Comic books are among the many forms of art that have explored the boundaries of our First Amendment rights. Fredric Wertham’s Seduction of the Innocent, published in 1954, famously portrayed comic books as dangerous to children, and sparked a campaign for censorship. The Senate formed a Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency, which held hearings that year specifically on comic books. I guess they had nothing better to do. The industry decided to self-regulate under the Comics Code Authority to preclude government regulation and the Comics Code held forth until the early 2000s.
The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund was born in 1986 to protect the First Amendment rights of the comics medium. You’d be surprised how often those rights are threatened, whether for making, selling or just reading comic books. Recently, the CBLDF successfully defended an American citizen arrested at Canada Customs for having manga images on his laptop. It carefully watches other cases, such as the Washington school district, in which a mother’s attempt to ban Mangaman was overcome by the library’s own review process. Cooler heads prevailed.
Today, I made a donation to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, because I believe in the importance of pop art in stretching our understanding of the First Amendment. And I like a good comic book, too.