FCBD Books Now Must All Be for All Ages
In previous years, the Free Comic Book Day (FCBD) committee has required that Gold titles (which participating retailers must purchase) be suitable for all ages, but Silver titles were able to put out more mature work with appropriate labeling. That’s good, since some comic publishers, like Fantagraphics, TCAF, and Alternative (to name past years’ participants), don’t focus on selling kid-friendly books, and so their FCBD comic can thus be reflective of their product lines.
This year, however… the participating publisher information has gone out, and the statement “Your book should be for all ages and contain no nudity.” has been added to the contract requirements for Silver-level participants.
Now, I can guess why. The Gordon Lee case has been running for over three years now. That retailer gave a comic containing nudity to a child by accident, and Georgia has been trying to prosecute him for the mistake ever since. The particular comic in question was a FCBD Alternative Comics sampler containing (among much other material) a historical, non-sexual presentation of a naked man. I can imagine that those behind FCBD aren’t pleased that their event, geared towards gaining positive press and promotion for the comic industry and specifically brick-and-mortar comic retailers, is mentioned in that context.
But are we really served by showing only a sanitized, kid-friendly version of comics? Shouldn’t the full range of publications be able to be represented on this day for outreach to potential new readers? What if a shop wants to sell comics to more people than just kids?