This is the text of a speech Warren Ellis gave earlier in the month on the subject of comics. And it absolutely nails the reasons that I love this medium more than any other. It’s purity, it’s honesty, it’s speed of response mean that you can do things in a comic form that would either be impossible or unfeasibly expensive otherwise. Give it a read. If only for the jokes about Grant Morrison and the brown acid.
Regular members of The Readership will recall my posts late last year on the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill, and it’s attack on free speech as pertaining so called “violent pornography”.
Well, as expected, that bill passed and is now being used to protect us against something else that isn’t a threat.
And this time it’s really personal.
The fuckers are going after comics.
The problem arises around this Bill used in conjunction with Section 49 of the Coroners And Justice Bill, currently being reviewed before making it’s way to the Lords. Take a look:
It is an offence for a person to be in possession of a prohibited image of a child.
A prohibited image is an image which—
falls within subsection (6), and
is grossly offensive, disgusting or otherwise of an obscene character.
(3) An image is “pornographic” if it is of such a nature that it must reasonably be assumed to have been produced solely or principally for the purpose of sexual arousal.
(4) Where (as found in the person’s possession) an image forms part of a series of images, the question whether the image is of such a nature as is mentioned in
subsection (3) is to be determined by reference to—
(a) the image itself, and
(b) (if the series of images is such as to be capable of providing a context for the image) the context in which it occurs in the series of images.
(5) So, for example, where—
(a) an image forms an integral part of a narrative constituted by a series of images, and
(b) having regard to those images as a whole, they are not of such a nature that they must reasonably be assumed to have been produced solely or principally for the purpose of sexual arousal, the image may, by virtue of being part of that narrative, be found not to be pornographic, even though it might have been found to be pornographic if taken by itself.
(6) An image falls within this subsection if it—
(a) is an image which focuses solely or principally on a child’s genitals or anal region, or
(b) portrays any of the acts mentioned in subsection (7).
(7) Those acts are—
(a) the performance by a person of an act of intercourse or oral sex with or in the presence of a child;
(b) an act of masturbation by, of, involving or in the presence of a child;
(c) an act which involves penetration of the vagina or anus of a child with a part of a person’s body or with anything else;
(d) an act of penetration, in the presence of a child, of the vagina or anus of a person with a part of a person’s body or with anything else;
(e) the performance by a child of an act of intercourse or oral sex with an animal (whether dead or alive or imaginary);
(f) the performance by a person of an act of intercourse or oral sex with an animal (whether dead or alive or imaginary) in the presence of a child.
Got all that? Anyone see the problem yet?
Well, as with the CJIB last year, the issue is with the distressingly vague terms with which the terms are couched. That old chestnut “must reasonably be assumed to” creeps into the text on more than one occasion. And of course “grossly offensive, disgusting or otherwise of an obscene character.” That really ties it down, don’t it? My idea of grossly offensive is, I will bet you anything you like, different to my neighbour, the nice lady at the petrol station or the average copper who has to try and make sense out of this lax, lazy attempt at anti-child porn legislation.
In fact, it gets almost surreal. Please, reread section 7, subsection (e) and (f). And then shed a tear for the unicorns.
Let me make it simple for you. A drawing of a child is not a child. A drawing of a character that looks child-like is not a child. A drawing of that character engaged in pursuits and endeavours of an adult nature is still not a child. Tell you what, you tell me. How old is Astro Boy?
How about Princess from Battle of The Planets?
(incidentally, this pic was hosted on the BBC Cult website, which described it as… oh, see for yourself).
One more, as noted on the Comic Shop Voice website when mentioning the even more bothersome Section 52, which states:
(6) Where an image shows a person the image is to be treated as an image of a child if the impression conveyed by the image is that the person is shown as a child.
and for comparison…
(which I ganked from the Daily Mail website, who seem more than happy to print this kind of pic. Actually, linky to the whole page for more pics with kid actors underneath, which viewed out of context could be seen to be highly inappropriate.)
So, yet again, another piece of badly thought out, poorly examined and potentially ruinous legislation from a government that is passing laws that seek to criminalise me with every passing month.
Seriously. I own a copy of Lost Girls. Under the new laws, that makes me a criminal. God only knows what that makes Alan Moore.
Links for you to read include Comic Shop Voice who have a more detailed and much angrier version of the argument, and The Comic Book Alliance, a force for good in the industry. The Register have a very good (ie effing terrifying) version of events here.
There’s a big meet in Brighton about the whole situation this Monday. Bleeding Cool have the details. Worth lending your support.
Off sick today, which is always a bore. I’ve been pretty much stuck upstairs, shuttling between the bedroom and the loo (don’t ask, really, unpretty situation.)
Which leads, of course, to a day of Rob’s favourite pastime, Fannying Around On The Laptop. Listen to the author’s squeals of joy as he archives off 10 gigs worth of ephemera to the external drives! Rejoice with him as he gets Last.fm working along with Growl, and spends the day watching a window pop up on his desktop every time a new song plays! Gasp in near-orgasmic wonder as he … oh, you get the idea. Geeking out is what I do, and it can sometimes be good to have the excuse to do nothing but for a day.
So, concerning the local amenities, I’ve juggled things around eso slightly. There’s now a Last.fm list widget, so that you too can enjoy my musical “tastes”. I prefer to call them eclectic, although the accusation often levelled is “schizophrenic.”
There’s also a Facebook widget, and updates to the blog will now appear as new Notes in my FB profile. Sharp-eyed readers may notice a change to the quote in the header, and really sharp-eyed observers will note I’ve tweaked the logo. Notice I have resisted the temptation to stick a lightning bolt in the middle of it.
There’s been a few updates to the growing pile of juicy content in the writing rooms. Satan’s Schoolgirls will always update on a Sunday, so Chapter 5 has just gone up. I upped a new short story Saint Charlie to the Short Fiction room earlier this week, and I’m rather proud of it. Any updates to the fiction or film room will always be noted in This Week’s Special, the text box to the top right.
A couple of interesting links, because obvs I sent a chunk of time hitting the feeds today.
Finally, as a writer, I am by definition a language technician. My chosen language (or rather the one that circumstance and to a certain amount laziness has forced onto me) is one of the most illogical and eccentric on the planet. With a vaudvillian twinkle, Ed Rondthaler takes us through a few of the pitfalls and pratfalls that the English language has in store for us.
(Youtube vid, better quality here)
Following a recommendation from Katherine Farmer at the Forbidden Planet Blog, I’ve just spent the morning reading Evan Dahm’s Rice Boy.
It’s an extraordinary, surreal, moving and thoughtful tale, telling the story of the titular Rice Boy, a limbless, mushroom-like blob, and his quest to prevent a war and save his world.
The artwork is lush, while still remaining accessibly cartoony, and the story twists and turns, leading to an epic climax with a twist that I genuinely couldn’t see coming. I’m reminded in a very good way of Lewis Trondheim’s Donjon books. It’s a genuinely all-ages story, with enough to keep an inquisitively-minded reader absorbed for hours. I really can’t recommend it highly enough.
The good news is that while you can read Rice Boy for free on Evan’s site, you can also now buy it in a lush hard back edition with tons of extras. For 18 quid, it looks like a bit of a bargain, and a perfect example of the new try-before-you-buy self-publishing model that I’ve banged on about in the past before.
Speaking of which, the trade of the first arc of Warren Ellis and Paul Duffield’s Freakangels is out soon…
(Via Forbidden Planet.)