The UK government is proposing a Coroners and Justice Bill that has ignited fears in the hearts of many law abiding, comic-book-creating citizens. Why? All because of some rather vague and circumspect wording.
The trouble is that the sections of the Bill that cover child abuse are unfortunately written in such a way that they appear open to interpretation – and the argument is that open interpretation in the hands of people who don’t necessarily understand an art form is just asking for trouble. According to Politics.co.uk, GM Jordan, editor of Comic Shop Voice, says that sections 49 (6) and 52 (3) are the ones striking fear into the hearts of UK – and worldwide – comic fans.
They specify that images cannot depict a child’s genitals, an act of intercourse with an animal or an ‘indecent pseudo-photograph of a child’ – and when you are specifically thinking about porn this makes sense, when you are thinking of ground breaking comic books, not so much. Basically this linguistic looseness means that it’s possible that a large number of comic publications, artists, writers and collectors could unwittingly fall foul to a literal translation of the law.
Censorship is a dirty word these days, and so it should be, and although artists and creators understand the dangers and responsibilities or creating art that deals with contentious issues – especially those such as pornography in relation to children – they also understand that art should be beyond certain restraints. Obviously this means walking the finest of fine lines sometimes and that’s when the responsibility firmly lands on the heads of the creators for better or for worse.
There’s a good reason for this Bill, it’s designed to combat the growing problem of cartoon porn that’s available on the net, but the way it’s been handled has ensured that fears that artistic expression will be stifled are rife.
There are plenty of books out there that I find abhorrent, and probably plenty of comic books too, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be allowed to exist. Banning subject matters from artistic spheres is a dangerous road to take even one step down – as I’m sure many people agree.
Luckily plenty of people from the comic book industry aren’t taking this possible threat lying down – not when books that have won high acclaim in the industry could be at risk. Leah Moore, daughter of now legendary Alan Moore, has set up an organisation called the Comic Book Alliance. An alliance that hopes to ensure that only the correct, indecent images and publications are targeted under the Bill, not artistic erotica – and it’s already gathered the support of prominent comic writers like Neil Gaiman, John Reppion and Bryan Talbot.
Good luck to them I say, no one wants to see art ‘accidentally’ curtailed. So now I’m off to sign their petition.