Tag Archives: free speech

Graphic Novel Supports Terrorists?

ArmyofGod-cover-finalDavid Axe and Tim Hamilton‘s latest work, Army of God, has gotten the attention of the Office of Foreign Assets Control. The entity has confiscated the majority of an advance payment to Hamilton, claiming that they were laundering the money for onward transfer to a terrorist organization.

The graphic novel is a non-fiction telling of Joseph Kony’s activities in the Congo. The graphic novel, written by journalist Axe, was originally serialized on the Website Cartoon Movement, and is being published next year by Public Affairs, a member of the Perseus Books Group.

Earlier in December the money was seized when Hamilton’s agent attempted to wire the advance payment for extra chapters that the artist illustrated for the graphic collection. When Hamilton’s agent contacted the bank to find out more, he was told that the party holding the funds was the federal wire fraud unit, which suspected that the creators were laundering funds for a terrorist organization.

The federal banking authority, which monitors every wire, foreign and domestic, apparently seized the funds due to the title of the book, which threw up a red flag.

At the time of the press release about this issue, the funds have not been released to Hamilton or his agent despite the involvement of lawyers. The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has also been contacted and apprised of the situation.

The book itself is listed with Amazon and in Public Affairs’ online catalog.

Here’s the solicit text of the book:

It started with a visit from spirits. In 1991, Joseph Kony, the leader of a Ugandan rebel group known as the Lord’s Resistance Army, claimed that spiritual beings had come to him, instructing him to lead brutal raids against civilians supporting the Ugandan government. In the decades since, wars have been waged to supplant him, yet for all the horror and condemnation his brutality has aroused around the world, Joseph Kony still survives. In ARMY OF GOD, war correspondent David Axe collaborates with illustrator Tim Hamilton to create the first-ever graphic account of the global phenomenon surrounding Kony, from the chaos he has left behind to the long campaign to defeat him for good.

David Axe is a freelance reporter based in Columbia, South Carolina. Since 2005 he has reported from Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Somalia, Chad, Congo and other conflict zones, for Wired, the BBC, Salon, Esquire, C-SPAN, Voice of America and many others. David is the author of War Fix, War is Boring, and, most recently, The Accidental Candidate.

Tim Hamilton is a Brooklyn artist who has produced illustrations for The New York Times, Cicada magazine, DC comics, Marvel comics, Mad magazine, Nickelodeon magazine, and Lifetime. He adapted Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 into a graphic novel, which was nominated for an Eisner award.

To say this is an overstretch by the federal government is an understatement. It violates first amendment speech as well as interferes with the journalistic process. I’m not even sure how one would connect these dots to begin with.

Graphic journalist Matt Bors, who edited the graphic novel offers:

OFAC hasn’t responded to my request for comment yet, but their answering machine urged me to visit the U.S. Treasury’s website. Comics wouldn’t be a great way to fund terrorism. They don’t pay very well. But now we know no one fighting terrorism knows how to use Google, which sure makes me feel safe.

Around the Tubes

The weekend is almost here and I plan on reading a hell of a lot of comics, you?

Around the Blogs:

CBLDF – Facebook Removes Israeli Artist’s Cartoons – Censorship of any sort is unacceptable.

CBC – Winnipeg General Strike of 1919 depicted in graphic novel “Bloody Saturday” – Could be a cool read.


Around the Tubes Reviews:

MTV Geek – Before Watchmen: Comedian #1

CBR – Saga #4

Complex – Review: “Saga” Once Again Proves That It’s The Best Comic Book Series You’re Not Reading

Around the Tubes

It’s new comic book day, what’s everyone getting?

Around the Blogs:

Bleeding Cool – A Very Gay Orbital Party For Astonishing X-Men #51Awesome to see.

CBLDF – Artistic Censorship Continues to Plague Post-Revolutionary Tunisia – Sad to see.

MTV Geek – ‘Before Watchmen: Comedian’ Rewrites History In Controversial First Issue…But Did It Go Too Far? – Very bad taste.


Around the Tubes Reviews:

CBR – Avengers Vs. X-Men: Infinite #6

Library Pulls Alan Moore’s Neonomicon. Think About the Children!

Think about the children!  A South Carolina library has pulled two copies of Alan Moore‘s Neonomicon from it’s shelves pending a review after a parent complained their child checked it out and it contained pornographic pictures.  The book was in the “adult section” of the library but children over the age of 13 can check out items from that section with a parent’s permission.  The mother even looked at the book before her kid checked it out.  From a CBS 7 article:

It looked like a child’s book.  I flipped through it, and thought it was ok for her to check out.

Right there, I think you lose your right to complain.  The mother continues:

“I really think if they’re going to carry this type of material there needs to be a rating on it,”  Gaske says.  “There’s ratings on movies, music, video games.  My daughter cannot go to the video game store and get a mature video game without me there.”

And right there, her argument goes out the window, because as she admits, she was there, she was present, she did ok her daughter checking out the book.

The library has defended the book saying they’ve never had a rating system and it’s up to the parent to decide what’s appropriate for their children.  For now two books have been pulled pending a review.  The mother has filed a complaint.

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In Tunisia, Show Persepolis and Get Fined

In early May, a panel of five Tunisian judges Thursday convicted TV magnate Nabil Karoui of “disturbing public order” and “threatening public morals” by broadcasting the French animated movie Persepolis, based on the acclaimed graphic novel Marjane Satrapi.  Karoui was fined $1,600 while two members of his staff were each fined $800.  Prosecutors and lawyers representing Islamist groups felt they should be sentenced up to five years and a few even called for the death penalty.

The verdict was posted on a courtroom wall and the judges felt the case had brought out many to argue over the limits of free speech in a fledgling democracy just 15 months after a revolution.  Some felt the decision was a sign that the country would still limit speech that devout Muslims consider offensive and showed boundaries for the freedom of the press.

The U.S. ambassador to Tunisia, Gordon Gray, issued a statement condemning the decision.

I am concerned and disappointed by this conviction for Nessma television’s broadcast of an animated film previously approved for distribution by the Tunisian government.  His conviction raises serious concerns about tolerance and freedom of expression in the new Tunisia.

Interestingly enough before the revolution, the Tunisian government had issued a certification approving Persepolis for showing in the country.  Clerics felt the movie insulted Muslim values because it shows the face of God during a scene where he talks to the main character in the movie.

Doonesbury Gets Censored

Newspapers always stand behind the first amendment, until they don’t.  An Oregon newspaper, the Oregonian, has decided to pull next week’s edition of Garry Trudeau‘s critically hailed and politically relevant comic strip Doonesbury.  In an article explaining their decision the newspaper feels that in their…

judgment, went over the line of good taste and humor in penning a series on abortion using graphic language and images inappropriate for a comics page.

The editors felt it was a “clear call” and follows the decision of other newspapers around the country, including the Los Angeles Times and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

If there’s one thing all journalists and newspapers should stand by, it’s the first amendment.  While the editors might not have agreed with what was being said, or the images depicted, Trudeau has a right to show them and by pulling the strip, the newspaper is censoring them.  Due to their taste, the comic is being pulled.  Not an outcry, not some complaint, just because it doesn’t fit with their world view.  I hope there doesn’t come a day when the Oregonian needs someone to stand up for their right to say what they choose.

You can check out the strips online, http://www.gocomics.com/doonesbury, and judge for yourself.

CBLDF News: Cartoonist Charged With Treason! Cliff Chiang Speaks! Muppets Auction!

Treason in India

Aseem Trivedi, a freelance political cartoonist in India, faces imprisonment and fines over charges of treason and insulting Indian national emblems. His cartoons criticized India’s government, and he may face additional charges because another complaint alleges that his work is “defamatory and derogatory.” The latter complaint has led to the suspension of Trivedi’s website, www.cartoonistsagainstcorruption.com.

The censorship comes as no surprise, even from the world’s largest democracy.  Read More.

The Good Fighters: Cliff Chiang

“Creativity is nothing without free speech.” — Cliff Chiang

You may know Cliff Chiang for drawing the best Wonder Woman around, but he’s also passionate about Free Speech and works hard to support causes like CBLDF.  In addition to his prodigious talent as an artist, he’s a witty and generous fellow, always ready to donate his dwindling spare time to a worthy cause. When CBLDF asked Chiang to create a new vision of Lady Liberty for our 2012 member cards, he fashioned an image as iconic as the Statue of Liberty herself.

In this installment of The Good Fighters, we sat down with Chiang for a quick chat about the impetus behind his Lady Liberty design and why he supports CBLDF.  Read More.

Belgian Court Keeps TINTIN IN THE CONGO on Shelves

After a recent ruling by a Belgian court, Hergé’s controversial second book in the Tintin series, Tintin in the Congo, remains on shelves. The book faced charges that it broke several of Belgium’s laws against racism and incited racial hatred, but the court ruled that the book, which was serialized from 1930 to 1931 and collected in 1946 with significant revisions, was a product of its time and did not intend to incite racial hatred.

Tintin in the Congo was not translated into English until 1991, but it has faced significant backlash over its depiction of the Congolese and treatment of animals. Attempts have been made to ban it in the United Kingdom, where it is often sold with a warning about offensive content, and several other countries.  Read More.

Ultimate Comics Gives Back to CBLDF with Muppet Show Auction!

Did you ever want to see what Frank Cho, Eric Powell, or David Mack would do with an assignment to draw the Muppets? North Carolina retailer Ultimate Comics made it happen! They are proud to announce that it will be auctioning two dozen of its store exclusiveThe Muppet Show #1 variant covers, hand sketched by some of the greatest talent in the comics industry, with all proceeds going to support the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund!

The auctions start today! Keep reading for more details and an auction preview!

ComicsPRO Goes Big For CBLDF!

Last weekend the CBLDF’s Deputy Director Alex Cox visited the ComicsPRO Meeting in Dallas where he met with the industry’s best retailers and publishing professionals. He takes you into this ultimate insiders weekend, including full highlights from the exciting ComicPRO CBLDF Benefit Auction that raised more than $8,000 for the Fund!  Read More.

CBLDF Founder Denis Kitchen Talks Underground Comix and Free Speech at St. Mary’s College

CBLDF founder Denis Kitchen recently shared his love for underground comics and his experience as an editor and defender of Free Speech during a presentation at St. Mary’s College in Maryland. The Point News, St. Mary’s student newspaper, covered the presentation, getting takes from students who saw the lecture. Read More.

CBLDF News: Cartoonist Arrested in Oakland & Books Banned In Arizona

Cartoonist Susie Cagle Arrested, Released During Weekend Occupy Oakland Protests

Last weekend, more than 400 people were taken in during a mass arrest in response to the latest Occupy Oakland protests. Cartoonist Susie Cagle, who was arrested during protests in November, was one of several credential journalists taken in during the mass arrest despite Oakland Police Department policy that members of the media never be targeted because of their status as journalists. This time, Cagle was released on site, when an officer recognized Cagle from her last arrest. Cagle was told that they were doing her a “favor” upon her release.

The Daily Cartoonist has a rundown of Cagle’s tweets during the arrest and release here. Cagle wrote an article for AlterNet a few days before the latest protests, outlining OPD’s new policies regarding protests. Gavin Aronsen with Mother Jones, another journalist arrested during the protests, details his experience — which seems to contravene the policy OPD laid out for Cagle — hereRead More…

Big Easy Turns Out Big Time For CBLDF!

Last week, the CBLDF launched the first Member Appreciation events of 2012 in New Orleans with a party at Crescent City Comics and a booth at Wizard World New Orleans Comic Con, raising a total of $2,600 and meeting dozens of loyal supporters from all over the south. CBLDF Executive Director Charles Brownstein looks back on the trip and the CBLDF supporters he met.  Read More…

CBLDF Condemns Arizona School Censorship

In response to an Arizona state law banning the teaching of ethnic studies courses, the Tucson Unified School District released a list of books that have been banned from the classroom. Popular textbooks, novels, and collections by revered Mexican American and Native American authors were among the titles removed from classrooms. CBLDF has joined a coalition of organizations — including the ACLU of Arizona, ABFFE, ALA’s Freedom to Read Coalition, and many more — in a joint statement decrying this censorship.  Read More…

Comics Should Be Good: Why Joining the CBLDF Matters

CBLDF Deputy Director Alex Cox and co-founder of the Comics Should Be Good blog at Comic Book Resources took a moment to explain why people should join the CBLDF on today’s CSBG blog. Head over to CBR to get the low down on CBLDF, comic book censorship, and how CBLDF protects your right to make, sell, buy, and read comics!

Vietnam Censorship Fuels Interest in Banned Comics

Early comic book censorship in the United States was fueled by fears many adults had over a burgeoning youth culture that they could not understand and that they perceived as violent. Even today, would-be censors continually — and incorrectly — argue that comic books and other media are bad for children, something that has yet to be proven by valid scientific study.

The fear of youth culture as a driver for censorship isn’t unique to the United States, as a recent AFP article over at The Raw Story makes clear. The article relates how the banning of books in Vietnam, in particular books and comics aimed at youth culture, has actually driven sales of the books rather than keeping them out of readers’ hands. Read More…

CBLDF Reveals 2012 Member Benefits!

Fight Censorship!  Celebrate Liberty!

Join the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund today!

Today, the CBLDF unveiled its 2012 Membership Drive, featuring the best incentives and benefits in the free speech community, starting off with a stunning membership card by superstar creator Cliff Chiang! Channeling the classic depiction of Liberty through the influence of WPA art and comic book iconography, Chiang has created a powerful membership card that you’ll be proud to keep in your wallet. CBLDF offers membership plans for donors in every budget, each with its own premiums and benefits, and all of them are tax-deductible!

Joining the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund puts you on the front line of the fight against censorship! Your membership dollars provide the tools to fight back when comic book readers, retailers and artists are muzzled, censored, or attacked! When you become a CBLDF member, you are proclaiming that comics are important and that you are a protector of their First Amendment rights! Join now!

Membership starts at $25 per year, and every membership includes Chiang’s amazing membership card. At the $50 Supporter level, members receive a membership card, a car window decal, and a button set that includes a badge that proudly proclaims membership in the CBLDF.

The $100 Advocate members receive all of the Supporter premiums and also their choice of a CBLDF Tote Bag, featuring art by the great Sergio Aragonés; our popular “I READ BANNED COMICS” t-shirt; or a CBLDF branded water bottle, featuring the gone-but-not-forgotten Comics Code Authority emblem.

With a $250 Defender membership, donors receive the Supporter package, and their choice of TWO of the Advocate premiums. With the $500 Protector membership, members receive the entire Supporter and Advocate packages. At the Protector level, members will also have their name listed in a special “Thank You” section of the LIBERTY ANNUAL 2012, and they will receive a limited edition, full-color print of the membership card artwork, numbered and signed by artist Cliff Chiang!

The $1000 Champion membership includes everything in the other membership premium packages, plus the member’s choice of an autographed hardcover, signed on an exclusive “CBLDF Champion” bookplate, from one of the following creators:

  • WATCHMEN, signed by Dave Gibbons
  • MAUS, signed by art spiegelman
  • PREACHER Deluxe Edition vol. 1, signed by Garth Ennis
  • Y THE LAST MAN Deluxe Edition vol. 1, signed by Brian K. Vaughan
  • THE GRAVEYARD BOOK, signed by Neil Gaiman

Of course, the number one benefit of membership is peace of mind. You’ll know that there’s someone at the other end of the phone when a retailer gets busted or an artist is brought up on charges for exercising their First Amendment rights.

Become a member of the CBLDF today, and help protect comics in 2012 and beyond!

Comic Book Legal Defense Fund is a non-profit organization dedicated to the protection of the First Amendment rights of the comics art form and its community of retailers, creators, publishers, librarians, and readers. The CBLDF provides legal referrals, representation, advice, assistance, and education in furtherance of these goals.

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