Next week is Banned Books Week! This means now is your chance to take everything you learned in our 8-Week #ChallengedChallenge and use that knowledge to fight the good fight. Let every one know about why banning and challenging books is bad. Maybe even go to your local library or book store and find a banned book to read. (We’ve created a great display at our local library for next week & we’re sure others will have them as well).
And if you are one of those people who don’t trust a couple of kids about such a serious subject, we’ve brought in the big guns. At San Diego Comic Con, we spoke with Editorial Director, Betsy Gomez from the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund about why people try to ban books and had her show us some of their resources available to help those who find their reading rights are being taken away. Hey! And if you are a libraian or teacher this video is a great resource too, btw.
For our final Challenged Challenge book, we discuss Maus by Art Spiegelman. This Pulitzer Prize winning graphic novel is written about the author’s father’s experiences in a Polish Jew who survived the Holocaust. Obviously, the subject matter is brutal and is aimed at those who are mature enough to handle to content. We think that by middle school, kids have already been assigned The Diary of Anne Frank and have a basic knowledge of World War 2, so this would just be an additional resource. The Holocaust is an important piece of history that we all need to learn more about and this personal account and where each group is depicted as a different animal (Jews are mice, Nazis are cats, etc) really helps you wrap your mind around things.
Even though most people find this book to be of great value, some others have been concerned that it’s not appropriate for younger readers, and then someone else wanted it off the library shelves because it was anti-ethnic. This is why we read it. So, thanks for that, Banners. But seriously, they are way misguided.
If you are afraid the subject matter is too depressing, we also give you a couple things that made it enjoyable for us along with a bunch of other reasons why this is an important work that shouldn’t be restricted.
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi is our penultimate book in the ComicMix Challenged Challenge — and probably our favorite book of the bunch. This is a first hand account of Marjane’s childhood in pre- and post-revolutionary Iran. This graphic novel not only takes the roots of very serious current events issue and breaks it down so kids like us can understand it, but it is a total page-turner. Sure, it’s violent — but we are talking about war, and as far as wars go, this isn’t really very violent at all. This is a lot less violent than what we would see on the news.
Ironically, this book was most recently challenged by a community college student and her parents (Helicopter your adult kid much, Mom & Dad? Geez!) for it’s violence because she was expecting Batman and Robin in her graphic novel lit class. This brings up the subject of why it’s okay for fictional superhero comics to be violent, but not those about real life? We are so confused.
This book was also called out for language. But what gets us mad is that most of the bad language comes from what people said in catcalling (well, more like verbally abusing) Marjane’s mom for not wearing her veil and later for conservative women name-calling Marjane and others. This is how it went down with those words. The words are what makes it cruel and scary. These are not words the average middle schooler has never heard before and unfortunately lots of women here are called these bad names too. Can we talk about those actions first, then worry about the language? If it is so upsetting, then fix the problem, don’t ban the description of it.
There is so much to say, which we do in the video. If you haven’t read Persepolis, please do.
Last weekend, I was at LI-Con helping staff the Browncoats of NYC table.It was great fun and I met a ton of browncoats and other fandoms the two days I was there.At our meetup event, I got the chance to speak briefly about the Firefly comics from Dark Horse Comics.The reaction I got from one attendee kind of surprised me.
After the meetup ended, she started quizzing me about the Firefly comics a bit.I know, that isn’t surprising considering I was just talking at length about them.The first thing that she said that got to me was (and I am paraphrasing here) “You don’t see a female talk about comics a lot.”Well, if you have read even a fraction of what I have written, you must know how that chokes me up a bit.She meant it as a good thing, which I was out there talking and hyping up comics.Still, after all the female comic lovers that have come on to the scene, it is surprising that I stood out in this woman’s mind as a rarity.It was a very good reminder that there is still a stigma to female comic readers.
After we got past that I am a girl who reads comics, she asked me for comic suggestions. Her teenage son is not a big reader at all, and while she has discouraged comic reading in the past, her hope was that reading anything might be a gateway to reading more.And that broke me right there.I have never understood the negative reaction to comics in general.People still assume that they are only simple stories with pretty pictures.Like an overdrawn version of Dick and Jane.
Like any art form, comics have evolved over the decades into an incredibly varied genre.I was able to suggest books like March Vol. 1 & 2, which is written by Congressman John Lewis about his experiences during the civil rights movement.Not a topic that is easily understood by some adults these days, much less a child.I also touted Kill Shakespeare as a great way to introduce characters that every teen (with the exception of myself and a few others) loathes to study in high school.
As the Tweeks here on ComicMix have been discussing banned books this past summer, the overarching theme to me has been ignorance.A lot of people make judgements about a book, or a topic, or even a genre without facts.So many great books have been ignored and people have lost out because of that.
I am happy that someone felt I was a good source of information and I was proud to help.I learned a little something about myself and the world in the process.Next time you want to know something, remember this.All it takes is the courage to ask questions and the willingness to answer them.
Sidescrollers by Matthew Loux is about three boys who try to keep their friend from dating a football player who’s a total jerk. It was taken off a 9th grade OPTIONAL reading list because a parent thought the language and sexual content was inappropriate. We go kind of crazy over this. We’d like to explain, but it’s best you just watch the video. But WARNING: Parents might want to use discretion with our little viewers because we do talk about our 7th grade science teacher making us yell the names of male and female anatomy parts during class.
For week 5 of the ComicMix Challenged Challenge, we discuss Kim Dong Hwa’s graphic novel, The Color of Earth. Aside from the over use of flower metaphors, we loved the book. It’s about a Ehwa, a girl living in Korea with her widowed mom. The book deals with Ehwa growing up and so there’s talk of puberty and all that kind of related stuff that apparently makes some adults very uncomfortable. Uncomfortable enough for this to be the second-most challenged book. It’s a coming of age story and so we’re stumped as to why the essential parts of coming of age are so scary for the intended readership (who, you know, have just come of age or are in the process). But we try to break it down in our video.
It’s Week Four, which means we are at the half-way mark of the ComicMix Challenged Challenge. This week we take on The Graveyard Book Vol. 1, the graphic novel based on Neil Gaiman’s novel of the same name. This witty and compelling story was enhanced by P. Craig Russell’s graphic adaptation which includes amazing artwork by different artists in each chapter. We couldn’t help but love this book. We also couldn’t help but be confused as to why the CBLDF had to defend this touching book about a boy being raised by ghosts from being banned at a middle school. As middle schoolers ourselves, we don’t get it. We think maybe those who were so concerned with a few panels of blood missed the point of the story altogether. Not to mention that for the genre and for our age group, this book is not in the least bit shocking. Watch our discussion about why this book deserves to be read by everyone who choses to do so.
For week #3 of the ComicMix Challenged Challenge, we discuss This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki & Mariko Tamaki. This Caldecott Medal winner was challenged because some over-conscended parents didn’t bother to read the book jacket, assumed this ages 12 & up recommended book was meant for their young readers. Duh! So, yeah, we talk about that, why we loved the book, and what might be questionable if you are worried about the subject matter for you kids. Watch and learn and definitely read This One Summer!
It’s Week #2 of the Comic Mix Challenged Challenge! We talk about Drama by Raina Telgemeier, why some parents wanted to ban in school libraries, and why this drama over Drama isn’t about “sexual inappropriateness” it’s about homophobia. As middle schoolers (8th grade in the Fall, y’all) who are active in drama club, we break down why Raina got this book totally right & why people need to catch a clue as to what actual kids can and cannot handle. Spend an ordinary day in even the best middle school and you’ll quickly realize your kids see/hear/say/do many things more shocking. We suggest perhaps banning middle school.
Anyway, watch our video, learn about why this book is a great read for kids 8 & up, and support organizations like the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund so that all parents can have the choice to choose what their kids read.
Oh and also….when is someone going to make a movie based on this book? We need a movie! Or a TV show on ABC Family.
Welcome to Week 1 of the ComicMix Challenged Challenge, where we take a different book on the CBLDF’s list of the most challenged & banned comic books for young readers and we break down the reasons why it might be on the list. We also give it a quick review and discuss some of the main issues.
This week we talk about Bone: Out of Boneville by Jeff Smith. This is a book we have loved since we were 8 years old and truly is the book that introduced us to graphic novels. It’s a story about strangers in a strange land and in telling of Bone and his cousins, kids gets some examples of the consequences that can result when you aren’t well-behaved.
Spoiler Alert: We think it’s crazy that this book would even be considered being banned. Watch our episode to see why.