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May 10, 2011

Missed It: Young Lions Also Seized On Road To TCAF

imageThe Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has a concisely-written report on the seizure of two books on their way to the Toronto Comics Art Festival. They also include links. The two books in question were Black Eye, an anthology marshaled through producton by Ryan Standfest being carried to the show in the luggage of contributor Tom Neely, and Blaise Larmee's Young Lions, which was being taken across the US/Canadian border by publisher Dylan Williams of Sparkplug. Both were cited for obscenity.

I talked to both Williams and Neely at the show -- they were sitting next to one another. Neely says that the officer in question searched all of his material and with Black Eye flipped right to some material by Jeremy Onsmith which was probably the most graphically severe of any comic he was taking to Canada. (He also noted with a laugh that this was the material that was located at the deepest location within his suticase.) In contrast, Williams said that he suspected that the Larmee book was taken because its overall visual "look: and employed iconography could conceivably invite comparisons to child pornography, or at least the kind of art that people might associate with that kind of work. Williams laughed that some of the works he took across the border without incident contained much more harrowing details than anything Larmee had put down on the page.

Both Williams and Neely cited the overall professionalism of the officer involved, and the polite way with which they confiscated the material. This seems important to me because there's a tremendous tendency to want to personalize these encounters into instances of a bully exploit a poor, victimized artist when in this case and others like it the root cause is bad law rather than bad people. Some rules and laws are bad at their core, others are set up in a way they're badly executed, some are both.

According to this piece by Ryan Standfest, the books in question will go to Ottawa for review and then may be mailed back to the person from whom they were confiscated. Neither the cartoonist nor the cartoonist-publisher seemed to me to expect to see those books again.
posted 4:00 pm PST | Permalink

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