14 APRIL 2015
If you're like a lot of nerds, libraries may have played a sacred role in your childhood - the place where you read so many weird/adult books that the librarian talked to your mom; the place where you ate lunch in middle school after getting bullied in the cafeteria; the place where you got to read the graphic novels your allowance wouldn't cover and your parents wouldn't buy you. Libraries are an amazing part of our universe, right?
So it's always depressing and irritating to find out about the people trying to drive certain books out of library walls - shutting down public access to knowledge and entertainment, essentially. Now the American Library Association has released its list of the books that make cranky people make phone calls (or emails). And what do you know, they tend to be: YA novels, graphic novels and books by people of color. Sometimes all three.
If you're a comic fan, a few of these probably sit on your bookshelf - and if you've been paying attention to SDCC2015 special guests, you'll definitely recognize one of these names.
1. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
2. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
3. And Tango Makes Three - Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
4. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
5. It's Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris
6. Saga by Brian Vaughan and Fiona Staples
7. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
8. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
9. A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard
10. Drama by Raina Telgemeier
That's right, SDCC special guest Raina Telgemeier is among the ranks of the subversive. I haven't read her book Drama (though I plan to immediately) but Amazon describes it as "a diverse set of characters that humorously explores friendship, crushes and all-around drama!" So you can see why it would be a huge threat.
Possibly this is news to some, but comic books have always been targeted for censorship - hence the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. Efforts at silencing have come from other cultures, political groups and of course, Concerned Parents. But there's quite a difference between picking out your own kid's reading material and trying to stop anyone in a library jurisdiction from reading a specific book. So this is a report worth paying attention to, especially in this regard:
"The lack of diverse books for young readers continues to fuel concern. Over the past 12 months the library community has fostered conversations and fueled a groundswell toward activism to address the lack of diversity reflected in children's literature - both in content and among writers and illustrators."
At any rate, we know we have an inspiring creator (one of many) in our midst this July. Let's hope there will be some good panels on fighting censorship and fostering diversity - which is just another word for humanity, remember! - in comics. And let's all hope people of all ages get even more exciting books and graphic novels in the future.