Sunday, April 19, 2009

Censorship is alive and well, in Deutschland and the European Union...


Many of you have been anticipating the arrival of our first issue of The Boys of St. Precocious Academy, as have we. We have spent many long hours on its creation and we had hoped to have it finished very soon. However, we have just been thrown a rather substantial curve.

Our studio is located in the southern part of Germany, and we anticipated printing the comic in Germany, as well. While we have been busy, the European Union set up new guidelines for pron that encompass the younger years, and parts of it are rather distressing, and a bit over the top. Germany has decided (as of November, 2008) to employ the most Draconian of measures to fall into step with the EU's requirements. Even the members of other EU states have expressed surprise, although the UK is following suit with its own craziness.The German law (and the forthcoming British one) not only disallows any cartoon or drawing of teenaged boys engaged in any sexual activity, they will also disallow any image wherein anyone might ASSUME the character is not over 18 years of age. In other words, the character must be unambiguously viewed as over 18. In the vernacular, this means that Kristie would have to grow a beard.

Manga and Yaoi are no longer legal in Germany, and will not be legal in the European Union, shortly. Although we never intended that our younger characters would engage in such activity, we had assumed - by current European laws - that the older boys could have a bit of fun. This is no longer the case, and the penalties are severe. We cannot imagine how we can make Alain, Kristie, Ethan, Nicky and many others appear to be over 18 to ALL people, and the courts are already arbitrary enough without this kind of freedom to play with people's lives. Did we mention that this is unconstitutional, in Germany? It is, but who has the money to fight this idiocy? Well, there is one guy, and who would guess that it would be Larry Flynt who would come along and sue the German government for this new law? I didn't, and god bless him for doing so. Now, we wait to see what happens, although his suit does not address drawn images.

There is another, equally disturbing aspect to this law which is even more bizarre, and that is the prohibition of any writing which describes the sexual activity of any person under the age of 18, whether real or fictional. (When you get done shaking your head in disbelief, remember to bring your lower jaw back up to meet your upper.) Yes, they have now banned any literature, comic
or printed material of any kind which has any description of such an activity. Hmmmmm...a few biographies just got thrown off the bookshelves in most libraries. We'll put them on the pile of rubble with the pottery, sculpture, paintings and drawings that we just removed from museums in Berlin , Hamburg, Munich and many other cities in Germany. One of KJ's books will also have to be added to this pile, if he tried to print it in Germany or the UK. He won't, of course. Who knew that censorship of this magnitude would ever surface again? This aspect of the new law is also in direct conflict with the German constitution. Freedom of thought and word is a right, here, as it should be anywhere.

To see if this law has affected businesses in Germany, we searched on and other sites, and noticed that books in violation of this new law are still being offered. We have also seen that Manga and Yaoi are still available, as well. This is not surprising, since there was no fanfare about the new law. And, one has to keep in mind that LEA never go after the big boys when they want to set a precendent in law, for it is much easier to squash a mosquito than an eagle. Hence, our desire not to place ourselves in the position of being the mosquito. This is not to say we wouldn't fight such ignorance. It is astonishing that folks have already forgotten the history of seventy years ago, in Europe.

We are currently redesigning the first issue to comply with the new law, and we will keep a watchful eye on the bureaucrats to see how this all develops. In the UK comic artists and illustrators have formed a group and are pushing for a hearing on the upcoming changes. We wish them good luck, and we wonder where the German artists and illustrators are on this, since we haven't heard a peep out of them, yet.

We'll keep you posted.