A Sign of Our Times

A column article by: Ace Masters

Indulge me down this path I will lead you, but I forewarn this does not end happy - for now.

Imagine that you have visited a foreign country. It has been pleasant, but now it is time to return and you are looking forward to the comfort of your home and the warmth of your own bed.

Then you are suddenly pulled out of line at the airport and unceremoniously arrested.

Later you are told that manga was found on your laptop. You are thrown in jail, charged with possession of child pornography and face up to one year in jail.

In case you didn’t read it properly or didn’t believe it the first time around: Yes, manga, possession of which has now brought charges of child pornography.

As I forewarned, not a happy ending, but the story isn’t over yet.

If this sound like something out of 1984, Fahrenheit 451 or even Brave New World, you’re right. It’s dangling close to that edge.

The sad fact is, is this isn’t a story - it’s true.

You would think this country would have completely alien values to us.

But no, that is NOT the case. This is a country you would believe understands the value of art, especially comic books. A country with values not unlike America. An ally. A friend. A neighbor.

Think up north.

Yes, an American citizen is being held on charges of child pornography for possession of manga in Canada.

Canada, what art thou doing?

You should find this disturbing, and it is. manga is NOT porn, even if there is a fetish of making female characters look young and sometimes ‘school girlish.” Keep this in mind; manga is the Japanese art form of comic books. In Japan the ‘school girl’ look is common place and never given a second thought.

But what if the next time it isn’t manga? What if someone crosses the border with a copy of Warlord of Mars with a seductive cover and Dejah Thoris - who is supposed to be hundreds of years old?

What would happen if you happened to have a copy of Image’s Morning Glories – about teenagers at a boarding school? I would think twice about crossing the border with copies of Teen Titans or Runaways.

Morning Glories Cover

What’s next, The Muppets with Miss Piggy on the cover?

This very really case is currently in play in Canada. Far more information can be found at the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund website.

Our fellow comic book and manga reader is currently known as Brandon X, to protect his real name. CBLDF is doing what they can to help.

The saddest fact about this case is even if the charges are dropped, Brandon’s life could be ruined forever. Just the charges of child pornography, however false they may be, can have far reaching repercussions. Even if acquitted and found to be falsely accused, many people won’t care. Some will only see the charge and assume it was true, guilty or not.

When it comes to children, charges like this rarely go away.

There have been too many cases like this over the last twenty-years. Just check out the CBLDF Case Files Page to see a small portion of these types of cases, and these are only the cases we know of. This is why the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund was formed. It shouldn’t be left just to them and the professional creators to stand up.

This case should be a WAKE UP call. To ALL COMIC BOOKS READERS! This should be a rallying point for us, the comic book fan base to stand up and stand against potential wrongful persecution of our own.

This is not a point to stand up and say WE ARE GEEKS! That won’t do or work. We need to stand up and say WE ARE PEOPLE!! We are fans of this genre and unfair treatment and persecution like this will not be tolerated.

How do we do this? First, support CBLDF. Give some money if you can, even if only five or ten dollars. It’s a start and the funds are needed.

Secondly, petitions against this type of accusations. If there aren’t any already out there, then start one! Get an online petition going, get comic readers around the world-wide web to sign it and send it to CBLDF. I’m sure CBLDF could get it to the right people.

We as readers can go to conventions, can wait in line to meet our favorite creators, can be at the comic store every Wednesday. We can turn little known comics into hit films.

We are a powerful force. Our voices against this type of mistreatment can be heard, and SHOULD be heard.

Just think, if one of us crossed the border with a comic in hand, the same could happen to us.

I am not going to leave you with a ‘Burning Thought’, or a ‘Next Time’ preview here. Why, because this issue is a ‘Burning Issue’ that needs to be addressed.

Decide for yourself, is this something we can afford to ignore?

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