The webcomics blog about webcomics

Awesome Things, Disturbing Things

Let’s start with the fun stuff.

  • Do you like free booze? Sure, we all do.¹ Good news for you, Sparky — Dave Kellett has worked his magic and (yet again) lined up a free booze sponsor for his latest book launch party. Those of you lucky enough to be in the vicinity of Beverly Hills can check out the latest Sheldon and Drive collections, and pound down completely free tequila until the very fancy people eject you from the venue, and possibly the city limits. If you’re found two days later in a tub full o’ ice missing a kidney, don’t blame Dave; tequila must be treated with respect.
  • Heard on the premiere business-information program of these shores on Monday afternoon: a story on policing internet behavior and a reference to the Greater Internet uh, Jerkwad, Theory. Heard on the same program Tuesday afternoon, a belated recognition of the authors of said theory. Dunno if Mike and Jerry listen to Marketplace or not, but this is as close as you can get to an official imprimatur from the business community that They Matter.
  • Speaking of commerce, Andy Bell sold literally a thousand of his Android toys at San Diego, and only via careful rationing did they last to almost lunchtime on Saturday. For those of you not lucky enough to score some, the newest resupply is due up at the Dead Zebra site in the next week or two.
  • Guess what I’m getting: Dr McNinja Boy Scout patches! The Potomac Council is selling its leftovers, details of which can be found here. If you’re interested I’d email sooner rather than later, but it’s one very nice woman named Susan that’s taking care of this sudden influx of attention, so be polite and patient with her. Also, she’s trying to keep track of order requests, addresses, and payment info, which is much simpler if you reply to her emails instead of starting new ones with each exchange.

Okay, time to get serious. Go read this piece at The Comics Journal on censorship in Sweden, then come back. For those of you who are contrary and don’t feel like reading, it concerns an established, long-respected manga translator who was convicted in June on the charge of possessing child pornography, for having on his computer a few dozen scanned manga pages related to translation projects. The pictures were deemed to be “of a sexual nature” and to depict “characters under the age of 18”. Woo, pedophile off the streets, we can all sleep better at night, forces of decency triumph.


Nobody knows how explicit the pictures (again, not photos, not anything that actually depicts any living person, much less a child) might be because it’s illegal for them to be seen by anybody, and therefore we have only the prosecutor’s word to go on. And here’s the kicker:

In Sweden, all images – be it photos, movies, animations or drawings – depicting what one can understand to be a child (i.e. under the age of 18) in a sexual situation, are regarded as child pornography, since the legislators agreed on using the word “image” instead of “photo” in the law. The ban does not apply to text, though, only images.

This law has been active for almost a decade, but this ruling is the first one ever in Sweden where drawn images have been deemed child pornography in a court of law, and it might thus create a precedent. This could have far-reaching consequences for comics, both for artists and readers. Serious depictions of abuse, autobiographical stories of sexual debut, or simply children without clothes on, may now be classified as child pornography. [emphasis added]

We’ll neglect for the moment the fact that the age of consent in Sweden is 15, and that it’s impossible to decide if a cartoon character that’s meant to be an adult is “too young-looking”. Instead, let’s concentrate on this:

One major problem is the fact that since it is illegal to even look at images like these, the images that were the grounds for the conviction cannot be shown anywhere. This leads to a Catch-22 situation where it is virtually impossible for anyone to decide whether something is illegal or not.

Until this gets settled? You probably shouldn’t read Rene Engström‘s highly-regarded work within the geographical boundaries of Sweden, since Johan and Tina might have been underage, Little Shit might look too young, and diary comics of bathing your kids are obviously criminal in nature.

Those links don’t work, because as much as we know that none of those things described is wrong in any way, somebody out there is screaming Won’t you please think of the children? and might make things difficult for Rene and I won’t make it any easier for them to start their witch-hunt. The fact that I need to think in those terms really pisses me off.
¹ For maximum impact, read that line in the voice of Informercial Sally Struthers.

The fact that peligroso means “dangerous” in Spanish I guess calls for double respect for that particular tequila.

I’m sorry, but my last comment to this post was flagged as spam.

These pictures were deemed demeaning to every child everywhere in general. That’s how the law is constructed.

[…] I’ll leave it to you to browse the archives, considering that Sweden’s morality police could very well decide that Rene Engström is a vile threat to society based upon elements of […]

[…] Kellett throws book release parties — this is a truth-fact. Once again, his latest book will be dropped onto an […]

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