21 Comic Book Challenges You Won’t Believe!

EDITOR’S NOTE: Half Price Books is committed to buying and selling anything printed or recorded, except yesterday’s newspaper! Did you know that HPB carries a great selection of comics, graphic novels and comic-related merchandise?


This year, we’ve teamed up with the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, our super heroes at protecting our right to read comics! Enjoy this post from our friend, Charles Brownstein, Executive Director at the CBLDF and we’ll see you this weekend! — Becky

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund is a non-profit organization that protects the freedom to read comics, and we’re proud to welcome Half Price Books to our roster of Corporate Members.  Many people ask whether censorship is still a problem facing comics, and the answer is a shocking yes.  In 2013 the year’s tenth most challenged book was Bone by Jeff Smith.  Last year also saw the Chicago Public Schools attempt to ban Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis.  The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund fights these challenges when they happen, getting involved at the first sign of trouble and assisting communities to help keep comics on the shelf.  We also create proactive resources to help increase understanding of comics before challenges occur.

Today we take a look at 21 surprising comics challenges, providing the title, where the challenge occurred, and the allegations brought against the book.  To read the full story of these challenges, or to learn more about the CBLDF’s important work, come on over to our website.

 1. Amazing Spider-Man: Revelations by J. Michael Straczynski, John Romita, Jr., and Scott Hanna

• Location of key challenge: A middle-school library in Millard, Nebraska

• Reason challenged: Sexual overtones

The parent of a 6-year-old who checked out the book filed a complaint and took the story to the media; the parent also withheld the book for the duration of the review process rather than returning it per library policy. Read more here.

2. Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again by Frank Miller and Lynn Varley

• Location of key challenge: Stark County District Library in Canton, Ohio

• Reason challenged: Sexism, offensive language, and unsuited to age group

Despite the challenge, the library retained the book and now holds two copies, which are shelved in the Teen section. Read more here.

3. Batman: The Killing Joke by Alan Moore and Brian Boland

• Location of key challenge: Columbus, Nebraska, Public Library

• Reason challenged: Advocates rape and violence

The library review board members present voted unanimously to retain the book when it was challenged by a single patron.  Read more here.

4. Blankets by Craig Thompson

• Location of key challenge: The public library in Marshall, Missouri

• Reason challenged: Obscene images

CBLDF wrote a letter to the Marshall library on behalf of Blankets and Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home, playing a key role in keeping both books on shelves. Read more here.

5. Bone by Jeff Smith

• Location of key challenge: Independent School District 196 in Rosemount, Minnesota

• Reason challenged: Promotion of smoking and drinking

A letter from Jeff Smith decrying the attempted ban of his book was read aloud at the library review committee’s hearing, and the challenge was ultimately rejected by a 10-1 vote, to the praise of Smith and the CBLDF. Read more here.

6. Dragon Ball by Akira Toriyama

• Location of key challenge: All public school libraries in Wicomico County, Maryland

• Reason challenged: Violence and nudity

The library review committee recommended that the books in the Dragon Ball series, which were recommended by the publisher for ages 13+, be removed from the entire public school library system, including at the high school level. Read more here.

7. Fun Home by Alison Bechdel

• Location of key challenge: The public library in Marshall, Missouri

• Reason challenged: Obscene images

CBLDF wrote a letter to the Marshall library on behalf of Fun Home and Craig Thompson’s Blankets, playing a key role in keeping both books on shelves. Read more here.

8. Ice Haven by Daniel Clowes

• Location of key challenge: A high school in Guilford, Connecticut

• Reason challenged: Profanity, coarse language, and brief non-sexual nudity

A high school teacher was forced to resign from his job after a parent filed both a complaint with the school and a police complaint against the teacher for lending a high school freshman a copy of Eightball #22, which was later published as the graphic novel Ice Haven. Read more here.

9. In The Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak

• Location of key challenge: Multiple locations

• Reason challenged: Nudity

In the Night Kitchen was not often removed from shelves; instead, librarians censored it by painting underwear or diapers over the genitals of the main character, a precocious child named Mickey. Read more here.

10. League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier by Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill

• Location of key challenge: Jessamine County Public Library in Kentucky

• Reason challenged: Sex scenes

Two employees of the Jessamine County Public Library in Kentucky were fired after they took it upon themselves to withhold the library’s copy of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier from circulation because they felt it was pornographic. Read more here.

11. Maus by Art Spiegelman

• Location of key challenge: Pasadena Public Library in Pasadena, California

• Reason challenged: Anti-ethnic and unsuited for age group

Nick Smith of the Pasadena Public Library describes the challenge as being “made by a Polish-American who is very proud of his heritage, and who had made other suggestions about adding books on Polish history… The thing is, Maus made him uncomfortable, so he didn’t want other people to read it. That is censorship, as opposed to parental guidance.” Read more here.

12. Neonomicon by Alan Moore and Jacen Burrows

• Location of key challenge: The public library in Greenville, South Carolina

• Reason challenged: Sexual content

Despite giving her 14-year-old daughter permission to check out the book, which was appropriately shelved in the adult section of the library, a mother filed a complaint, claiming the book was “pornographic.” CBLDF wrote a letter in support of the book, but it remains out of circulation pending review. Read more here.

13. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

• Location of key challenge: The public school system in Chicago, Illinois

• Reason challenged: Profanity, violent content

Furor erupted when Chicago Public Schools sent an email to local principals, directing them to remove all copies of Marjane Satrapi’s award-winning graphic novel Persepolis. CPS backpedalled on the initial email, sending a second email clarifying that the book was to be retained in libraries. It was removed from Grade 7 classrooms and remains under review for use in Grade 8 -10 classrooms. Read more here.

14. Pride of Baghdad by Brian K. Vaughn and Niko Henricho

• Location of key challenge: Various

• Reason challenged: Sexual content

Despite receiving high praise from the ALA and Booklist and featuring a cast consisting of animals, the book has been challenged at libraries for sexual content. Read more here.

15. Sandman by Neil Gaiman and various artists

• Location of key challenge: Various

• Reason challenged: Anti-family themes, offensive language, and unsuited for age group

When asked about how he felt when Sandman was labelled unsuitable for teens, Gaiman responded, “I suspect that having a reputation as adult material that’s unsuitable for teens will probably do more to get teens to read Sandman than having the books ready and waiting on the YA shelves would ever do.” Read more here.

16. Side Scrollers by Matthew Loux

• Location of key challenge: The public school district in Enfield, Connecticut

• Reason challenged: Profanity and sexual references

The school district removed the book from non-compulsory summer reading lists, possibly violating its own review policy, which states in part that “no parent nor group of parents has the right to negate the use of educational resources for students other than his/her own child.” CBLDF wrote a letter in support of the book and is still awaiting a response from the school board. Read more here.

17. Stuck in the Middle, edited by Ariel Schrag

• Location of key challenge: The public school system in Dixfield, Maine

• Reason challenged: Language, sexual content, and drug references

CBLDF wrote a letter in support of the book, and the school board voted to leave the book on library shelves with the caveat the students must have parental permission to check out the book. “While we’re pleased to see the book retained in the library’s collection, we’re very disappointed that it is retained with restrictions,” said Executive Director Charles Brownstein. Read more here.

18. Stuck Rubber Baby by Howard Cruse

• Location of key challenge: Montgomery County Memorial Library System, Texas

• Reason challenged: Depiction of homosexuality

The book was challenged alongside 15 other young adult books with gay positive themes. The book was ultimately retained in the Montgomery County system, but was reclassified from Young Adult to Adult. Read more here.

19. Tank Girl by Alan Martin and Jamie Hewlett

• Location of key challenge: Hammond Public Library in Hammond, Indiana

• Reason challenged: Nudity and violence

The Tank Girl books are meant to entertain an adult audience, frequently depicting violence, flatulence, vomiting, sex, and drug use. After the 2009 challenge, the Hammond Public Library chose to retain the book, and it remains on shelves today. Read more here.

20. The Color of Earth by Kim Dong Hwa

• Location of key challenge: Various

• Reason challenged: Nudity, sexual content, and unsuited to age group

When the American Library Association’s Office of Intellectual Freedom released their list of the Top Ten Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2011, the second-most challenged book on that list was The Color of Earth, the first book of a critically-acclaimed Korean manwha, or comic book, series. Read more here.

21. Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons

• Location of key challenge: Various

• Reason challenged: Unsuited to age group

Watchmen received a Hugo Award in 1988 and was instrumental in garnering more respect and shelf space for comics and graphic novels in libraries and mainstream bookstores. The inclusion of Watchmen in school library collections has been challenged by parents at least twice, according to the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom. Read more here.

Charles Brownstein is the Executive Director of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.

Movies Based on Comic Books: Underrated Favorites

This Friday one of the most anticipated movies of the season will be released – Marvel comic book heroes unite in the new movie, The Avengers. This will be a big money maker regardless of critics’ reviews. If you are a fan of action-packed comic book movies, here are my recommendations among the best lesser-acclaimed films based on comic books.
Blade (1998) – Blade, played by Wesley Snipes, was born a half-breed vampire and has the ability to move around by day, something other vampires cannot do. Blade, being left for dead as a child, is determined to rid the world of the evil vampires, so now the battle is on. This is an energetic movie with plenty of fun vampire culture to satisfy the horror fans, including the great opening scenes at a vampire nightclub. Just guess what is pumping through the sprinkler systems!

300 (2007) – Critics were not kind to this film. Based on Frank Miller’s graphic novel, the film is what you would expect– very dark in all aspects. However, every frame of this film is treated as if you are looking at an illustration and is beautifully shot the entire way through. This is an action-packed romp of swords and sandals. Be sure to check this one out if you haven’t already.

Ghost World (2001) – Rebecca (Scarlett Johansson) and Enid (Thora Birch) have just graduated high school and both are debating what to do with their lives. This is a fantastic film about coming of age, through the eyes of Enid, a counterculture rebel and her record-collecting friend played brilliantly by Steve Buscemi.

There are some other obvious choices for films based on comic books such as Batman Begins (2005), The Dark Knight (2008), Superman (1978) and Spiderman (2002), but I thought I would go beyond the classics and look a little deeper through my collection to offer up some films you might not have seen.

What are your favorite comic book films? Drop me a note and lets talk film! Also, comic book fans: Don’t miss the Comic Book Giveaway tomorrow at your local HPB.
And as always, no talking or texting during the feature presentation.
— Jim

40 Comic Book Heroes Worth Cheering For

I have to admit,  don’t know much about comic books.  In fact, if it hadn’t been for my brother (and Hugh Jackman), I would never have known anything about the X-MEN. (My brother is also responsible for my knowledge about Hot Wheels and Lincoln logs, but that’s another topic.)  However, with the Avengers assembling on the big screen this weekend, I thought it might be good to know a little more about comic books and their heroes.

Did you know that comic books and graphic novels have been around since 1837, when “The Adventures of Obadiah Oldbuck” was first published by Switzerland’s Rudolph Töpffer?  “The Adventures of Obadiah Oldbuck” then came across the pond in 1842 as the first comic book published in the United States.  

However, comics used to have the picture panels above and all the text below, like most political cartoons still do today.  So some consider Richard Outcault’s “Yellow Kid” from 1895 to be the first real comic since it was the first comic strip to use the speech bubbles, or balloons,  that permeate today’s comic books.  However it wasn’t until the introduction of Jerry Siegeil and Joe Shuster’s Superman in 1938 that comic books turned into a major industry. Apparently, the hero makes a big difference.

Today, there are more than 300 million comic books worldwide and more that 500,000 comic book characters. (That’s a lot.) So, which comic books should you read?  Which heroes should you be cheering for? To answer these questions, I turned to those HPB bibliomaniacs for some help. So, without further ado, here are 40 comic book heroes worth cheering for.

1. Captain America – 2. Wonder Woman –  3. Batman – 4. Wolverine – 5. Spiderman – 6. The Tick – 7. Rick Grimes – 8. Rouge – 9. Nightwing – 10. John Constantine – 11. Gambit – 12. Jean Gray – 13. Thor – 14. Bigby Wolf – 15. Flash – 16. Iron Man – 17. Hellboy – 18. Luke Cage – 19. Daredevil – 20. Conan – 21.  Deadpool – 22.  Hank McCoy (Beast) – 23. Barbara Gordon (Batgirl) – 24. Hal Jordon (Green Lantern) – 25.  Hulk – 26. Judge Dredd – 27. Invincible – 28. Fone Bone – 29. Rorschach – 30. Silver Surfer – 31. Aquaman – 32. Iceman – 33. Colossus – 34. The Thing – 35. Nightcrawler – 36. Doctor Manhattan – 37. Superman – 38. Punisher – 39. Storm – 40. Spawn

Don’t miss our Comic Book Giveaway on Saturday, May 5 at all HPB locations. Get a FREE comic book* with any in-store purchase while supplies last. See your neighborhood store for other special events.

— Julie

*From a pre-selected collection. See store for restrictions and details.

Meet the Avengers

The Avengers debuts in theaters this week. Need a refresher before you go? Get an introduction to the characters by watching these films first.

Who are the characters in The Avengers? Iron Man (Tony Stark), Captain America (Steve Rodgers), The Hulk (Bruce Banner), Thor (The God of Thunder), Black Widow (Natasha Romanoff), Nick Fury (Director of S.H.I.E.L.D.), Hawkeye (Clint Barton), Phil Coulson (S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent), Maria Hill (S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent), and Loki.

Hope you enjoy the movie. I am not looking for award-winning performances on this one. Just want to be entertained. Show up early to get your popcorn, and as always…

No talking or texting during the feature presentation. — Jim

8 Ways to Experience Comic-Con (If You Can’t Make Comic-Con)

Comic-Con is this weekend! Are you going? No? Perhaps this just wasn’t your year and you had to miss out on that road trip to San Diego once again? As a consolation, I have found that sometimes HPB can be the perfect place to get in the Comic-Con-ish spirit. So if you are stuck at home instead of going to California via Batmobile, here are my suggestions on how to shop our store with the Comic-Con spirit

Awesome “Walking Dead” employee at HPB in Louisville KYStep 1)  Dress up as your favorite sexy/tough/scary super-hero and/or villain and enter bookstore with unabashed fervor!

Note: If you want to shop around for longer than about 3 minutes, no weapons! And, please cover your offending parts so as not to be asked to leave — this is a bookstore after all.

Step 2) Bring a camera; you never know when you might see a celebrity in a bookstore. Trust us…we’ve seen them. You also never know when someone will want to take a picture with you!

Step 3) Take a leisurely stroll through the science fiction section. You may not be looking for anything in particular, but you may find a friend who knows who you are dressed as, and that might make you feel like a hero for the day.

Step 4) Walk briskly through the Romance section for these shoppers will be the most fearful.

Step 5) Spend most of your time in graphic novels and comics. You’ll be a conversation starter… you may even find the love of your life (perhaps she/he is reading this post and digging in the closet for a Hobbit outfit as well?) Check for some Charlie Huston or Grant Morrison’s The Invisibles. Give us some time and eventually we’re sure to get Supergods. I personally can’t forget to grab an Ultimate X-Men or two for a little weekend reading.

Step 6) Make sure to peruse the DVDs… I was just in one of our Texas stores last week and saw Season 1 of Dexter for a great price. You never know what you will find! Maybe your ex-girlfriend took off with your entire TNG collection or you are gathering up The Big Bang Theory season by season– never fail to check for your favorite series or movie. If you are feeling really retro, check out the VHS section– they practically give those away and that little top-loader VCR in your garage is just aching for a hook-up.

Step 7) Ask someone, anyone, if they want your autograph. It’s just fun.

Step 8) Get a recommendation from your nearest bookseller. If you hate his/her recommendation, you can scoff heavily and storm off (or you could actually love it and check it out).

All right– I’m not fooling anyone; I know it’s no Comic-Con, but it beats the lines and the entry fee is FREE! If you are one of the lucky ones, have fun in San Diego, but if you aren’t… maybe I will see you in the Sci-Fi section this weekend. Now, where’d I put my Princess-Leia-buns headband?

What Comic-Con-type books or movies are you shopping for this weekend?

 — Becky