Monday, October 4, 2010

Graphic Novels

On September 28th, during Banned Books Week, the Huffington Post featured an article on the top 10 banned graphic novels.  The article gives the reasoning behind each challenge, but balances this out with by quoting the current President of the ALA:
"Not every book is right for each reader, but we should have the right to think for ourselves and allow others to do the same," said ALA President Roberta Stevens. "How can we live in a free society and develop our own opinions if our right to choose reading materials for ourselves and our families is taken away? We must remain diligent and protect our freedom to read."
Here are the top 10 challenged graphic novels and the reasons behind it all:
  1. Sandman (Neil Gaiman): Anti-Family, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group
  2. Blankets (Craig Thompson):  Sexually Explicit content, Other (unspecified)
  3. Bone (Jeff Smith): Sexually Explicit content, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group, Drugs
  4. Fun Home (Alison Bechdel): Sexually Explicit content
  5. Maus (Art Spiegelman): Anti Ethnic
  6. Pride of Baghdad (Brian Vaughn): Sexually Explicit content
  7. Tank Girl (Jamie Hewlitt): Nudity and Violence
  8. The Dark Knight Strikes Again (Frank Miller): Sexually Explicit content
  9. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (Alan Moore): Nudity, Sexually Explicit Content and Unsuited to Age Group
  10. Watchmen (Alan Moore): Unsuited to Age Group
Have you read any of these graphic novels?  Do you have anything to say about the reasons behind the challenges to each one?  Do you think there should be any guidelines for what is allowed in graphic novels aimed at younger audiences?


  1. #1: define the age group for these, please, those of you who are complaining! Isn't the whole POINT of YA crossover (which all of these, except perhaps Bone, are) to be ADULT novels/graphic novels presented in a non-patronizing tone to younger, mature readers?

    #2 Perhaps they ARE unsuited to 10 yr olds, but at what point do we allow our children to become young ADULTS? Oh, and FYI, people, my kids knew about sex and drugs--rather more than I really wanted them to, I must say--at 6 or 7!

    #3 At what point do we give our no-longer-children credit for being able to say: "This isn't really appropriate for me: too much sex, too much violence" (which many do)?

    So not only should we let our children have ACCESS to these texts in respect to their growing maturity, but we should repect that maturity's capability of self-censorship and selection of personally appropriate reading material.

  2. I think some of this comes down to where the books are placed in the library. Graphic novels are often assumed to be for kids when really they are made for older audiences. That being said, I don't think it is inherently wrong for youth to read books intended for adults.

    Of these, I have only read Maus, Watchmen, and Fun Home (I'm embarrassed to admit that I haven't read the rest).

    With Maus, I wonder if the "anti-ethnic" reasoning is because it is anti-Nazi or because people think it is anti-ethnic portraying Jews as rodents? I haven't found any answers to this question online.

    Watchmen I think would be fine to be included in the YA section of a library. There is physical violence and sexual violence, but I think young people can handle these issues. The graphic novel is challenging in a way that I respect and think young people could benefit from as graphic novel readers.

    And Fun Home, yeah there is sex, masturbation, possibly nudity(?), and homosexuality (which is perhaps more the issue for censors). I thought this graphic novel was great and I don't think that young people who read it will be damaged in any way (and I think they could get a lot out of it). That being said, it also wouldn't be my first choice for inclusion in a school library. I read this as an adult and felt like it was written for someone of my generation - I wonder if it would speak to young readers quite so much?

  3. Out of these I've read the Bone series by jeff smith, Maus: my father bleeds history and and here my troubles began and finally the league of extraordinary gentlemen, but I have also skimmed through a little bit of Blankets and Neil gaimans the sandman: the dream hunters.

    1st in Bone very kid friendly I'd say 10 and up as far as sexuality love notes and a bath that they dont even show drugs cigars and beer language hell and damn also there is mild violence not like real gory Example: freddy vs jason the graphic novel. or showing people being shot in the head Example: Red by warren ellis just fist and sword fighting although there are a few parts an arm cut off a tounge ripped out but nothing a child older than 10 couldnt handle.

    2nd maus: Im not really sure about the whole anti ethnic thing but yes this meant for more mature readers some things they left out nudity women parts vol.1 man parts vol.2 language shit damn bitch some violence mature content. but it is very good a must read.

    league of extraordinary gentlemen what they have is right add violence and you'll be done.

    blankets add nudity

    sandman add nudity sexually explicit content

    oh and also a recomendation I would recomend taking off bone and take neil gaimans sandman down to 2 and make alan moore and melind gebbies lost girls number 1 for sure and if you dont know what i mean look it up it would be 1 for extremly full of sexual content