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November 11, 2009


School Board Restricts Comics Anthology

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A school board in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, voted without discussion on a recommendation to restrict access to the comics anthology Stuck In The Middle. That book can now only be checked out by teachers, making it the first book in eight years to be removed from general circulation. A parent's complaint cited the book's language, sexual references and depictions of smoking.

Stuck In The Middle was edited by Ariel Schrag, who made her name as a cartoonist and writer depicting in forthright fashion her own experiences growing up and the difficulties inherent in many folks' experiences at that time in their lives. It was published by Viking Press in 2007 and features contributions by an impressive line-up of alt-comics creators, including Dan Clowes, Joe Matt, Gabrielle Bell, Vanessa Davis, Lauren Weinstein and Dash Shaw.

CR asked several of the creator involved with the projects about their reaction to the school board ruling. Vanessa Davis responded, "That is interesting and disappointing about Stuck in the Middle. I'm sad to say though that it's not surprising that a parent might overlook a book's entire content and instead focus on the appearance of the word 'bitch' or something. Also unfortunate that there was no discussion of the content at the meeting, or representation by the school's librarian, if there was one, especially since this type of thing hadn't happened in so long in their district." She added, "Whoever decided that it could be on the consent agenda was definitely in the wrong. It just goes to show how random and inconsistent this type of 'regulation' is."

Lauren Weinstein also reacted to the news. "There's this weird disconnect between 'keepin' it real' for teenagers by and really telling it like it is. People never want you to be too graphic about sex and drugs and offend impressionable minds, when that's exactly the time that teens might be helped by something that is bluntly realistic, rather than the exploitive materialistic sexuality that's in a lot of popular media today," the cartoonist told CR "Because this book doesn't glorify sex or drugs or profanity, it's way more disturbing than something like gossip girl or any of the trashy teenage books that the parents don't actually read. Plus, parents are always freaked out by pictures and words together because it's easier to point to the nasty parts."
 
posted 4:35 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
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