Tagged: This One Summer

Martha Thomases: Banning Yourself

This week is Banned Book Week. Read a banned book.

Luckily (I say sarcastically), more and more often, this means to read a comic book or graphic novel.

I think this happens because, despite nearly three decades of graphic novels aimed at adults, comics are still perceived as a children’s medium. Almost all defenses of censorship wrap themselves in the guise of protecting kids from “harmful” ideas. What constitutes “harm,” is, of course, wildly unspecific. It can be sexual content. It can be political content. It can be the idea that racial differences don’t make one group of people less (or more) human than another.

Most recently, it seems that most objections to graphic novels have to do with LGBTQ content as if the mere existence of queer people is in and of itself obscene. To quote Marika Tamaki (This One Summer), “I stand by my assertion that any person who wants a book removed from a library for having queer content should have to make their case to a panel of LGBTQ readers as to why their lives shouldn’t be represented in the library.”

Banning other points of view doesn’t make reality change, it only makes the perception of reality change. So banning books with queer characters doesn’t make everybody straight.

I assume most of you know how strongly ComicMix supports the First Amendment. I also assume you know about the many such organizations that support free speech and diversity of opinion.

Therefore, I’m going to talk about another form of censorship — self-censorship. This isn’t a First Amendment issue, but I think it can be just as relevant to you, Constant Reader, and to living your fullest life. I’m going to talk about going out of your way to encounter other points of view.

It is easier than ever to live one’s life without ever hearing a significant disagreement. I, personally, live in one of the most progressive zip codes in the country. I read lots of news and opinions, online and on paper, and while I watch less television news than I used to (talking heads drive me batty, because they rarely dig down into facts but rather tend to blather in sound-bites), I still spend a few hours a day trying to keep up with the world.

And I still don’t see every perspective.

Here’s an example. During the debate over the GOP plans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, I heard a lot of different perspectives about what was wrong and right about Obamacare. However, I didn’t see any actual defense about what was in the specific bills designed to replace it. The CBO said the plans would push tens of millions out of the insurance markets, and I couldn’t find a single Congressperson who said this was a good thing, or why.

When we discuss what’s wrong with the news media, I would say right there is a problem. Reporters weren’t asking that question.

Lucky for me, the New York Times did, finally, run a few Op-Ed pieces defending the Republican plans or criticizing Democratic plans on policy terms, not popularity contests. I disagree with both of these columns (and we can discuss that in the comments, if you like), but I appreciated the thoughtful — even wonky — articulation of the situation.

As a fan of graphic story-telling, I especially enjoy a deep dive into other worldviews. Most recently, I’ve found it in Irmina and The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye. The first showed me how it felt to be a loyal German in World War II, and the latter immersed me in the history of Singapore that was entirely new to me (and I studied Asian history in college).

Censorship is wrong, not only because it shuts people out, but because it shuts them up. I will never be able to consider every opinion and perspective, but my life would not be worth living if I couldn’t try.

Mindy Newell: Happy Birthday, Isabel!


Just got back from a mahhh-velous soiree at Casa El Deseo held in honor of my niece Isabel’s 15th birthday. Wow. Seems like just yesterday I was the bath witch giving a screaming infant girl her evening absolutions before tucking her into her crib.

That little infant girl has grown into a talented young woman who is not only an orchestral cello player, but also an aspiring professional actress of musical theatre, studying voice, dance, and the theater arts. She also plays a mean piano.

Iz loves Doctor Who.

And the sequential art story form – comics and graphic novels, boys and girls.

I’ve been following the Challenged Comics Summer Reading Challenge vid series hosted by Maddie and Anya Ernst, otherwise known as the “twins, teens, geeks…Tweeks!” found right here on ComicMix, of course. (I’m a huge fan of theirs. You should be, too.) All of these books have been attacked, removed, and/or banned for one stupid reason or another. Here’s the discussion schedule:

  • 7/13: Bone, Volume 1: Out From Bonesville by Jeff Smith
  • 7/20: Drama by Raina Telgemeier
  • 7/27: This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki & Mariko Tamaki
  • 8/3: The Graveyard Book Volume 1 (the graphic novel) by Neil Gaiman & P. Craig Russell
  • 8/10: The Color of Earth Book 1 by Kim Dong Hwa
  • 8/17: Sidescrollers by Matthew Loux
  • 8/24: Perepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi
  • 8/31: Maus: A Survivor’s Tale by Art Spiegelman

If you’ve missed July’s entries, don’t worry, there’s plenty of summer left – officially until September 23 this year, the first day of autumn.

I am very proud to say that Isabel has already read two of the challenged graphic novels: Jeff Smith’s Bone, Volume 1: Out of Boneville – which she discovered on her own and, by the way, she’s read the entire collection – and Raina Teglemeir’s Drama, which her mom bought her. (Iz also read Smile when she got braces.)

Like all great books, the reviewers raved.

Of Bone:

“Charming, character-driven fantasy with an elegant design and masterful story-telling in the tradition of Walt Kelly, Charles Schulz and Carl Barks.” – Publisher’s Weekly; “Like Pogo, Bone has whimsy best appreciated by adults, yet kids can enjoy it, too; and like Barks’ Disney Duck stories, Bone moves from brash humor to gripping adventure in a single panel.” – ALA (American Library Association) Booklist;

“Bone has the multi-level writing and artwork of the best Chuck Jones cartoons or early Disney movies. It’s overflowing with subtext about conflicting philosophies of power, cultural imperialism and political responsibility – though not enough to get in the way of its silly fun.” – CMJ New Music Monthly

“One of the best kid’s comics ever.” – Vibe Magazine;

“…Sprawling, mythic comic is spectacular.” – Spin Magazine;

“I love BONE! BONE is great!” – Matt Groening; “Jeff Smith can pace a joke better than almost anyone in comics; his dialogue is delightful — so are all his people, not to mention his animals, his villains, and even his bugs.” – Neil Gaiman

Of Drama:

An utterly charming graphic memoir of tooth trauma, first crushes and fickle friends, sweetly reminiscent of Judy Blume’s work . . . Irresistible, funny and touching–a must read for all teenage girls” by Kirkus Reviews;

“A charming addition to the body of young adult literature that focuses on the trials and tribulations of the slightly nerdy girl” by Publishers Weekly;

“It hits home partly because there is nothing else out there like it” by The New York Times Book Review.

So here’s a challenge.

Don’t be a schmuck.

Get going, choose your favorite book retailer, brick-and-mortar or on-line, and buy these books for your kid(s) – or yourself. You won’t be sorry. You might even find yourself – *gasp* – having an intelligent discussion with your offspring about them. Y’know. Like in a book club.

And what did I get Isabel to celebrate her big day?

This One Summer.

With the rest of the list to follow.

Happy Birthday, kid!


Tweeks: Read “This One Summer” This Summer: #ChallengedChallenge Week 3

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!

Tweeks: ComicMix’s Challenged Comics Summer Reading Challenge

It is officially summer for us! Yay!  So, we thought this would be the perfect time to tell you about our summer reading plans.  In this week’s episode, we tell you about the CBLDF and announce our Challenged Graphic Novel Reading Challenge.  Our hope is that kids and parents (and everyone else) will read along with us.  Because you seriously can’t question that book be suitable for library shelves if you haven’t read it, right?

CMCC Picture

This summer we will be reading 8 graphic novels that have been challenged or banned in school libraries and then every week we will discuss one of the titles.  We’ll talk about why it was challenged, how to best talk about the questioned topics or themes in the book with your kids.  We’ll also tell you from a kid’s perspective how we viewed the appropriateness of the books for us, because sometimes adults forget what they could handle and understand when they were our age.

We also hope that you will support everyone’s right to choose what they want to read by doing some sleuthing in your local or school library.  Take a look at our reading list and see which of the books are available for you to check out.  You can post your findings in Social Media like Facebook and Twitter (@ComicMix and @The_Tweeks) with #InTheStacks and/or #ComicMixChallengedChallenge, hopefully generating further discussion. We also think you should check out the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund’s site.  We talk more about them in the episode.

So, get to reading!  Our discussion schedule is:

7/13 Bone, Vol 1: Out From Boneville by Jeff Smith
7/20 Drama by Raina Telgemeier
7/27 This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki & Mariko Tamaki
8/3 The Graveyard Book Vol 1 (the graphic novel) by Neil Gaiman & P. Craig Russell
8/10 The Color of Earth Book 1 by Kim Dong Hwa
8/17 Sidescrollers by Matthew Loux
8/24 Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi
8/31 Maus: A Survivor’s Tale by Art Spiegelman