Yep, comics and graphic novels are regularly challenged or banned just as much as novels. At my library, we always have a display dedicated to the books that are widely challenged and this year is no different. If you want to know more about Banned Books Week, which is from September 27-October 3 this year, visit organizations like American Library Association and the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF).
Or, you can celebrate your freedom to read by picking up one of these challenged comics and graphic novels:
Amazing Spider-Man: Revelations
Synopsis: In the wake of the World Trade Center tragedy, Spider-Man comes to understand that not all heroes possess great powers. Meanwhile, Aunt May struggles with her discovery of Peter’s greatest secret.
Challenged: 2009 in Nebraska for “sexual undertones”
Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again
Synopsis: Written as a sequel to the groundbreaking BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS, this masterful hardcover takes place three years after Batman’s defeat of Superman. Faking his own death and creating an underworld civilization, Bruce Wayne has been keeping his eye on the world above. As that false Camelot reaches its breaking point, it’s is up to the Dark Knight to emerge from the underground shadows and once again return order to chaos. Joined by his army of Bat-soldiers and his female sidekick Catgirl, an elderly Batman wages a final war against a diseased world in an epic tale that features Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Arrow, Martian Manhunter, and the Atom.
Challenged: 2010 in Ohio for “sexism and offensive language”
Batman: The Killing Joke
Synopsis: In the story, for the first time the Joker’s origin is revealed in this tale of insanity and human perseverance. Looking to prove that any man can be pushed past his breaking point and go mad, the Joker attempts to drive Commissioner Gordon insane. After shooting and permanently paralyzing his daughter Barbara (a.k.a. Batgirl), the Joker kidnaps the commissioner and attacks his mind in hopes of breaking the man. But refusing to give up, Gordon maintains his sanity with the help of Batman in an effort to best the madman.
Challenged: 2013 in Nebraska for “advocating rape and violence”
Synopsis: Blankets is a story of self-discovery behind a mask of religion and limited possibilities. As a coming-of-age autobiography, the book tells the story of Thompson’s childhood in Evangelical Christian family, his first love, and his early adulthood. However, the story also relates to other cultural and emotional issues not entirely directed at Thompson that can be placed in a moralised viewpoint.
Challenged: 2006 in Missouri for “obscene illustrations”
Synopsis: Fone Bone confronts a host of dangers in Book 4 of the BONE saga, “The Dragonslayer”. He and Gran’ma Ben and Thorn have a terrifying encounter with Kingdok, ruler of the rat creatures. The Hooded One is inciting his army to full-scale war. Someone is continuing to haunt Thorn in her dreams. And then wise Gran’ma Ben disappears.
To make matters worse, Phoney Bone has hoodwinked the townspeople into believing that he is a mighty dragonslayer. When he actually does catch the Red Dragon — much to his surprise — he must face up to his promise: to slay the dragon at sunrise.
Challenged: 2010 in Minnesota for “promoting drinking and smoking”, 2011 in New Mexico for “smoking and drinking” and in 2012 in Texas for being “politically, racially, and socially offensive”
The Color of Earth
Synopsis: First love is never easy.
Ehwa grows up helping her widowed mother run the local tavern, watching as their customers – both neighbors and strangers – look down on her mother for her single lifestyle. Their social status isolates Ehwa and her mother from the rest of the people in their quiet country village. But as she gets older and sees her mother fall in love again, Ehwa slowly begins to open up to the possibility of love in her life.
In the tradition of My Antonia and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, from the pen of the renowned Korean manwha creator Kim Dong Hwa, comes a trilogy about a girl coming of age, set in the vibrant, beautiful landscape of pastoral Korea.
Challenged: 2011, too many to name ( it is on the Top 10 of most challenged books of 2011) for nudity, sexual content, and suitability for age group
Synopsis: Dragon Ball follows the adventures of Goku and his friends from childhood through adolescence as he trains in martial arts and begins his exploits. Goku embarks on a quest for the seven mystical orbs called Dragon Balls, which summon a wish-granting dragon when gathered. Inspired by traditional Chinese storytelling and myths, Dragon Ball is a modern take on timeless classics and embodies themes of friendship, rivalry, victory and loss. The graphic novels are the basis of the popular media franchise and subsequent spin-offs.
Challenged: 2009 in Maryland for “depicting violence and contains nudity”
Synopsis: Callie loves theater. And while she would totally try out for her middle school’s production of Moon Over Mississippi, she’s a terrible singer. Instead she’s the set designer for the stage crew, and this year she’s determined to create a set worthy of Broadway on a middle-school budget. But how can she, when she doesn’t know much about carpentry, ticket sales are down, and the crew members are having trouble working together? Not to mention the onstage and offstage drama that occurs once the actors are chosen, and when two cute brothers enter the picture, things get even crazier! Following the success of Smile, Raina Telgemeier brings us another graphic novel featuring a diverse set of characters that humorously explores friendship, crushes, and all-around drama!
Challenged: 2014 in Texas for being “sexually explicit”
Synopsis: A memoir of the author’s childhood, particularly focused on her relationship with her closeted gay father Bruce. As Alison grows older and realizes that she is a lesbian, she and Bruce are both forced to confront how his repression may have affected her own self-image and the way that she dealt with her sexuality.
Challenged: 2008 in Utah for “pornography,” 2015 in California for “pornography”
The Graveyard Book
Synopsis: A boy raised by ghosts, and his adventures through the graveyard where he lives.
Challenged: 2015 and information was confidential for “violent imagery” NOTE: the CBLDF’s defense was successful and the comic stayed on the shelves of the library.
Synopsis: Ice Haven is composed of a series of vignettes that describe the life of the small town and its citizens after the disappearance of a local boy.
Challenged: 2008 in Connecticut for “pornographic” material
In the Night Kitchen
Synopsis: A young boy’s dream journey through a baker’s kitchen.
Challenged: too frequently, for “nudity”
League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier
Synopsis: A sort of meta “sourcebook” for the popular series of the same title. Rife with literary and popular culture mashups, the book follows League members Mina Harker and Allan Quatermain as they seek the Black Dossier, an intelligence file that covers the founding and development of the crime-fighting cabal.
Challenged: 2009 in Kentucky for “pornographic” material
Synopsis: A son’s quest to learn about his father’s history as a Polish Jew who survived the Holocaust. The graphic novel is split into two alternating stories: One story is set in the novel’s present, with Spiegelman interviewing his estranged father about his experiences, and the second story is Spiegelman’s interpretation of his father’s life as a graphic novel.
Challenged: 2012 in California for being “anti-ethnic” and “unsuitable for younger readers”
Synopsis: The book incorporates Lovecraftian horror into a murder mystery.
Challenged: 2010 in South Carolina for “sexual content” and for being “pornographic”
Synopsis: The book collects Hernandez’s “Heartbreak Soup” stories, which originally appeared in the Love and Rockets series, a collaboration with his brothers Jaime and Mario. Gilbert Hernandez’s stories focus on the interconnected lives of characters from one family in the fictional South American town of Palomar.
Challenged: 2015 in New Mexico for being “child porn” and “sexual, graphic, and not suitable for children”
Synopsis: A graphic memoir of growing up during the Iranian Revolution.
Challenged: 2003 in Illinois for “graphic language and images that are not appropriate for general use. Banned or challenged regularly (#2 on the Top Ten List of Frequently Challenged Books)
Pride of Baghdad
Synopsis: A graphic novel that follows a pride of lions that escapes from a Baghdad zoo after an American bombing as they struggle to survive on the bombed-out streets of the city. The tale is based loosely on true events.
Challenged: Frequently challenged for “sexually explicit content”
Synopsis: When two soldiers from opposite sides of a never-ending galactic war fall in love, they risk everything to bring a fragile new life into a dangerous old universe. Fantasy and science fiction are wed like never before in a sexy, subversive drama for adults.
Challenged: 2014 in Oregon for “sexually explicit content” and “propagating anti-family values”
Synopsis: The Sandman is the universally lauded masterwork following Morpheus, Lord of the Dreaming–a vast hallucinatory landscape housing all the dreams of any and everyone who’s ever existed. Regardless of cultures or historical eras, all dreamers visit Morpheus’ realm–be they gods, demons, muses, mythical creatures, or simply humans who teach Morpheus some surprising lessons.
Upon his escape from an embarrassing captivity at the hands of a mere mortal, Morpheus finds himself at a crossroads, forced to deal with the enormous changes within both himself and his realm. His journey to find his place in a world that’s drastically changed takes him through mythical worlds to retrieve his old heirlooms, the back roads of America for a twisted reunion, and even Hell itself–to receive the dubious honor of picking the next Devil. But he’ll learn his greatest lessons at the hands of his own family, the Endless, who–like him–are walking embodiments of the most influential aspects of existence.
Challenged: Frequently challenged for “anti-family themes” and “offensive language” and for being “unsuitable for age group”
Synopsis: When high school students, Brian, Brad, and Matt learn that the new girl is going to the local rock show with Richard, the bully football jock, they decide to put aside their night of video games and junk food, and steer her away from him.
Challenged: 2012 in Connecticut for “profanity” and “sexual references”
Stuck in the Middle
Synopsis: A very unscientific poll recently revealed that 99.9% of all people who attended middle school hated it. Fortunately, some of those people have grown up to be clever and talented comic artists, with an important message to share: Everyone can survive middle school!
Edited by underground comics icon Ariel Schrag, this anthology of illustrated tales about the agonies and triumphs of seventh and eight grade features some of America?s leading graphic novelists, including Daniel Clowes, Joe Matt, Lauren Weinstein, and Ariel herself. With a sense of humor as refreshing as it is bitingly honest, seventeen artists share their stories of first love, bullying, zits, and all the things that make middle school the worst years of our lives.
Challenged: 2011 in Maine for “language, sexual content and drug references”
Stuck Rubber Baby
Synopsis: In the 1960s American South, a young gas-station attendant named Toland Polk is rejected from the Army draft for admitting “homosexual tendencies,” and falls in with a close-knit group of young locals yearning to break from the conformity of their hometown through civil rights activism, folk music and upstart communality of race-mixing, gay-friendly nightclubs. Toland’s story is both deeply personal and epic in scope, as his search for identity plays out against the brutal fight over segregation, an unplanned pregnancy and small-town bigotry, aided by an unforgettable supporting cast.
Challenged: 2005 in Texas for its homosexual content
Synopsis: The British series, originally set in post-apocalyptic Australia, follows the adventures of Tank Girl, her mutant kangaroo boyfriend Booga, and a varied cast of secondary heroes and villains.
Challenged: 2009 in Indiana for “nudity and violence”
This One Summer
Synopsis: Every summer, Rose goes with her mom and dad to a lake house in Awago Beach. It’s their getaway, their refuge. Rosie’s friend Windy is always there, too, like the little sister she never had. But this summer is different. Rose’s mom and dad won’t stop fighting, and when Rose and Windy seek a distraction from the drama, they find themselves with a whole new set of problems. One of the local teens – just a couple of years older than Rose and Windy – is caught up in something bad… Something life threatening.
It’s a summer of secrets, and sorrow, and growing up, and it’s a good thing Rose and Windy have each other.
This One Summer is a tremendously exciting new teen graphic novel from two creators with true literary clout. Cousins Mariko and Jillian Tamaki, the team behind Skim, have collaborated on this gorgeous, heartbreaking, and ultimately hopeful story about a girl on the cusp of childhood – a story of renewal and revelation.
Challenged: Challenged in several communities for “mature language and teen pregnancy”
Synopsis: This story chronicles the fall from grace of a group of super-heroes plagued by all-too-human failings. Along the way, the concept of the super-hero is dissected as the heroes are stalked by an unknown assassin.
Challenged: 2001 in Virginia for “unsuited age group.”