Our first installment for Banned Books Week takes a look at some of the most challenged, complained about, and banned comic books. What do you think? Do these comics deserve to be banned? Do the challenges have any merit? Why or why not?
To learn more about the issues, see the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund’s guide to Banned & Challenged Comic Books.
Blankets by Craig Thompson
Loosely based on the author’s life, chronicles his journey from childhood to adulthood, exploring the people, experiences, and beliefs that he encountered along the way.
Banned or challenged for: obscene images
Bone by Jeff Smith
After being run out of Boneville, the three Bone cousins – Fone Bone, Phoney Bone, and Smiley Bone – are separated and lost in a vast, uncharted desert. One by one, they find their way into a deep, forested valley filled with wonderful and terrible creatures. Eventually, the cousins are reunited at a farmstead run by tough Gran’ma Ben and her spirited granddaughter, Thorn. But little do the Bones know, there are dark forces conspiring against them and their adventures are only just beginning.
Banned or challenged for: promotion of smoking and drinking
Fun Home by Alison Bechdel
Charts Alison Bechdel’s fraught relationship with her late father. Her personal history, enlivened with humor, honesty, and literary allusion, tells of Bechdel’s growing up in what her family referred to as “Fun Home”–the house painstakingly refurbished by her father, Bruce Bechdel, and town funeral home. While in college, Alison discovers her father is gay, and then a few weeks after this revelation, he dies, leaving her with a legacy of mystery for his daughter to resolve.
Banned or challenged for: obscene images
Maus by Art Spiegelman
A memoir about Vladek Spiegelman, a Jewish survivor of Hitler’s Europe, and his son, a cartoonist who tries to come to terms with his father, his story, and with history itself. Cartoon format portrays Jews as mice and Nazis as cats.
Banned or challenged for: anti-ethnic and unsuited for age group
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
This graphic novel has black-and-white cartoon images that illustrate the author’s memoir of her childhood in Tehran, Iran, where she lived from ages six to fourteen while the country came under control of the Islamic regime.
Banned or challenged for: profanity, violent content
Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
This epic fantasy/space opera stars two lovers from enemy worlds. Alana is from Landfall, a technologically advanced world at war with Wreath, a planet fueled by magic and Marko’s homeworld. The couple flee the war and raise their daughter, Hazel, but are pursued by assassins, killers, enemy kingdoms, and people from their past. Sent to capture them is The Will, a hired mercenary, and his Lying Cat. Along the way he rescues a young victim of sex trafficking and teams up with Marko’s ex-girlfriend. Prince Robot IV, from a race of beings with televisions for heads, is also on the hunt for Alana and Marko. Protecting the desperate family is a spaceship made from a living tree and the ghost of a girl killed by a landmine left behind when the war came to her planet. Saga is a story about the importance of family, the devastation of war, and the cruelties of intolerance.
Banned or challenged for: sexual content, anti-family, nudity, offensive language, unsuited for age group
The Sandman by Neil Gaiman
Preludes & Nocturnes is the first of twelve novels collecting the complete run of The Sandman which introduces readers to a dark and enchanting world of dreams and nightmares–the home of Morpheus, the King of Dreams, and his kin, the Endless.
Banned or challenged for: anti-family themes, offensive language, and unsuited for age group
This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki
Rose and her parents have been going to Awago Beach since she was a little girl. It’s her summer getaway, her refuge. Her friend Windy is always there, too, like the little sister she never had, completing her summer family. But this summer is different. Rose’s mom and dad won’t stop fighting, and Rose and Windy have gotten tangled up in a tragedy-in-the-making in the small town of Awago Beach. It’s a summer of secrets and heartache, and it’s a good thing Rose and Windy have each other.
Banned or challenged for: sexual content, unsuited to age group
Y: The Last Man by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra
In the summer of 2002, a plague suddenly kills every living creature on the planet with a Y chromosome, all except for a young man named Yorick Brown and his male pet monkey, Ampersand. Yorick is determined to locate his girlfriend, who had been traveling through Australia when the world fell apart, but everyone else wants him, too. Some women want him dead to finish off what the plague did not, other want to use him to repopulate the planet, while others wish to experiment on him to unlock a cure. Several women aid him along the way, including the mysterious Agent 355 and Dr. Alison Mann, who may have more to do with the plague than she realizes. The story hits on the themes of sexual and gender identity and intersectional feminism from a post apocalyptic perspective.
Banned or challenged for: sexual content