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Eight Stories for '05 #2 -- The Gordon Lee Case Goes To Trial
posted August 22, 2005
 

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I hope for justice in the forthcoming Gordon Lee case, which is scheduled to go to trial on Monday, September 12.

The facts have been widely disseminated. Lee, the proprietor of Legends, in Rome, Georgia, faces multiple charges stemming from an incident whereby a minor participating in a community Halloween celebration inadvertently received as a trick or treat gift the 2004 Free Comic Book Day offering by Alternative Comics (cover pictured below). That comic book featured a selection from the historical drama "The Salon," by Nick Bertozzi. The scene in question showed the first meeting between Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque. Picasso is depicted in the nude on three pages in reflection of historical fact.

Facing charges that include heavy fines and jail terms, Lee contacted the comic book writer Peter David, who is also a Comic Book Legal Defense Fund board member. The CBLDF voted unanimously early in 2005 to support Lee's case. Local attorney Paul Cadle and the Atlanta firm of Begner and Begner were retained for Lee's defense.

imageMore than any other case I can remember, the Gordon Lee case and the CBLDF's backing of it suffered from a wave of small-c conservative backlash. Many expressed feelings that Lee's case was not worth supporting because the retailer had made a mistake in serving the public. This largely childish, asinine reaction not only lacked a measure of generosity, it was baffling in terms of understanding the CBLDF's basic mission. The Fund doesn't exist to support virtue in retailing, or mistake-free service, but to promote the free speech of a comic book industry the frontlines of which are made up of the retailing community. This means they must go after pernicious anti-speech laws like those that are being brought to bear in Georgia wherever they come up and however they might be utilized.

As the summer has progressed, the bulk of comics professionals, industry members and active readers have thankfully been much more helpful in stocking the Fund's war chest for this and any other fights that may crop up in the near future. Most heartening was a strong convention season that featured what seemed like a significant amount of American mainstream professional support.

imageMainstream comics culture's support of the CBLDF is crucial because very often a comics pro working within the constraints on content in place at companies like DC and Marvel has a difficult time seeing himself or herself in the place of the artist and kind of art that gets targeted by overzealous prosecutors. When the CBLDF can communicate that kind of common cause to an artist like Jim Lee, who's been on board for a while now, that's a great victory and indicates widespread support for the Fund's effort if not a common cause. Also, the bigger companies, the pros who work for them, and their fans tend to have significant personal resources from which to draw when it comes to generating needing donations.

Fundraising in general is key because it speaks directly to the CBLDF's ability to hire the best defense possible on a case-by-case basis, maintain their newly relocated office in New York where media and free speech resources can be more easily accessed, and retains their flexibility for any future cases that might come up.

As the Fund's initial filings make clear, Gordon Lee's case primary importance stems from need to strike down the laws being invoked against the retailer. A victory could also potentially be a win for the CBLDF in further rallying a wide cross-section of the comics industry to its side, which could be a key to fighting any future cases.

In September, all comics industry eyes should focus on Northwest Georgia.