April 14, 2006
Manga Book Banned From Library
Paul Gravett's Manga: Sixty Years of Japanese Comics
was directed to be removed from library shelves all across San Bernardino county after a parent complained about potential adult imagery in the volume. Multiple goofy elements abound, like the newspaper twice ignorantly reporting this to be a comic book (although they're quick to claim credit for the removal), the parent seemingly not looking at the book herself, the district supervisor making grand and sweeping claims about who the library is for and what's appropriate there, and the library in this day and age filing books that might have adult imagery -- I don't even know that it does, to be honest -- with stuff aimed at kids.
In general, I'm not all that worried about this kind of story because 1) what goes in a library is
fair game for community discussion, and 2) the general trend is for smart filing and holding comics in high value. So my reaction to an article like this is more "that sucks; I hope they get with the times" than "manga and comics will never be understood" or "manga and comics are in trouble." On the other hand, it's obvious that another way to interpret this is that one is as a first shot in a crapload of specific attention to half-assed, dumb-as-a-rock, vaguely xenophobic cultural indictments with mid-term congressional elections looming.
Ideally in this case someone smart and adult will at least lodge a counter-protest; I'm sure a lot of us can think of our own parents when we were 16-years-old wanting us to have access to the best books written about a subject in which we were interested despite a dirty picture or two. Mine would have.
posted 3:51 am PST
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