Censorship is a double edged sword. It’s obviously limiting, but when oppressed, artists must use their ingenuity to get their ideas across and sharpen the edge of creativity. Of course, if you believe in the first Amendment you’ll be against any and all censorship. Image Comics has a book that tackles censorship directly, entitled CBLDF Liberty Annual 2013. All proceeds of this 48 page comic go to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a doozy of a read, now does it? Is it good?
CBLDF Liberty Annual 2013 (Image Comics)
This anthology one-shot contains 11 stories from acclaimed artists, writers and underground creators too. Each story has something to do with censorship: either characters dealing with censors directly, or a world where comic books make kids become raving monsters. The variety of stories in this issue are all over the place, visually and story wise, which is generally what makes anthologies so good. Don’t like the second story that ran two pages? That’s fine, keep reading, you’re bound to find something you like. And like I did, as well over half of these stories are entertaining and interesting reads.
The first page and subsequently first story in this issue.
The strength of anthology comics reside in the editor (in this case Scott Allie), as the stories need to ebb and flow to keep the reader’s interest and not stomp on each other’s feet. I think he succeeds as far as balance goes. I’m not going to delve into all 11 stories, but I lets just say if you have very specific tastes you may or may not come away completely satisfied. That said, if you’re open to different art styles and storytelling techniques, give this puppy a shot.
Stupid District Attorneys.
The strongest of the stories uses the Hack/Slash characters as they take on a villain known simply as The Censor. He has the ability to manipulate the pages themselves, force black bars over genitals and cover up all the swears these heroes love to use. It’s a fun eight page story that is as inventive with its art as it is with the dialogue within. Writer Tim Seeley has the characters go over why violence in comics isn’t exploitative, but actually a good thing and he makes a strong case for any naysayers. It’s incredibly poignant and, frankly, is so good it makes the entire issue worth picking up.
That’s followed up with a story by Josh Williamson that opens on some boys looking at nudie mags in the forest. We quickly learn Superman is an unknown hero as well as comics in general. Williamson shows us a universe where pornography is okay, but comics will literally make children into dangerous monsters. The art is cartoony, I want to say like Rugrats, and keeps things light when the gore and chaos ensue.
Of the 11 stories only three missed their mark, but that’s just me. Maybe the art style and stories would tickle your fancy more than my own. That’s the plus in anthologies, as long as a majority of them work, there’s no reason why it wouldn’t be a must buy.
This can’t end well.
- Two amazing stories, with another six that are just great
- The art is great in every single story
- A dud or two
Is It Good?
Hell yes. There is so much to love in this series, and on top of all that the proceeds go towards a good cause. Anyone worried about nudity or vulgarity shouldn’t be too worried either. There’s a bit of swearing, but generally the messages are more about why censorship is bad and the evils at which censors will go to stop creators rather than being vulgar for vulgars sake. This is a top notch anthology that is going to be in the running for an Eisner. Yeah, it’s that good.