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What's with the name?

Allow us to explain.

And That's Terrible

Canadian Customs Confiscates Comics


Artists on their way to this weekend’s Toronto Comic Arts Festival encountered unusual circumstances when they tried to cross the Canadian border. Which is to say, the copies of their comics that they were bringing to show and sell at the event were confiscated, seemingly indefinitely. Dylan Williams, representing Sparkplug Comicbooks, was carrying copies of Young Lions, by Blaise Larmee, while Tom Neely was relieved of five copies of Black Eye, an anthology that he had been published in.

Said Neely:

The 5 copies of Ryan Standfest’s BLACK EYE anthology I brought with me to TCAF were confiscated at the border for “obscenity.”

I tried to get them to just ship them back to me at home, but they said they were required to send it to Ottawa for review. If they found the material to be “obscene” they would take “further action.” I asked what “further action” meant and (the customs guard) said they would just destroy them, or that there was a chance they might ship them back to me. It was the page of Onsmith’s gags that they first saw. I tried to tell them that it was “parody” and “humor” and the rest of the book had essays on the history of dark humor… The customs guy was really cool and understanding, but he said he just couldn’t let them through. I just hope “further action” doesn’t involve being arrested the next time I try to cross the border. They went through everything in our car. Opened every suitcase and looked through every book.

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund notes that this is part of a “growing trend of customs searches and seizures of comics” that they are following, and has a guide (PDF) available for anyone who might be worried about losing their books while traveling abroad.

(via Digital Spy.)

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  • Anonymous

    WTF? Seriously, we’re well into the realm of thought police at this point … there are people suffering due to real crimes, yet someone decided that some words and drawings are worthy of wasting taxpayers money on censoring.

  • http://amidstdancers.blogspot.com/ Shard Aerliss

    Whoever organised the event should really have known about this, and have let people know. It’s pretty well known in the manga community that Canadian customs do this. And now that the conservative party in Canada is in again, you can bet it’s only going to get worse.

  • Serenitystowaway

    Really? Wow. Apologies on behalf of my country…that is ridiculous.

  • Khrysta

    @Holleyx: I’d like to argue that “some words and drawings” denies the power that comics and other forms of art have on their readers.

    @ The article author, Susana Polo: The PDF you included is a guide to getting material across the US border. Any chance you have something equivalent for the Canadian border? I’m sure artists would greatly appreciate information to help them breeze through Canadian gov’t restrictions.

  • Anonymous

    Indeed, I should reword that …

    There are people suffering due to real crimes, yet someone decided that
    censorship across the border is worthy of wasting taxpayers money on.

  • JJ

    In Canada this is common, we all know about it, it’s been going on for a long time.

    Our customs agents don’t do the body scans & pat downs that the US does (which BTW is why I’ll never fly to the US as long as it continues), but you can be darned sure Canada Customs will sniff through bulk reading materials.

  • Nightfall

    I used to have a house in Canada.  I sold it after my swords I was planning to decorate my den with were confiscated and I was arrested and threatened with weapons smuggling charges after 2 hours in a cell with no heat (it was somewhere around 3 degrees F outside).  The reason for the confiscation?  I was told that the swords were “too sharp” and they had to check to see if they were legal.  I will never get those back, and some were gifts.  I sold my house for less than it was worth just so I never had to go to Canada again.

  • Nightfall

    Oh yeah, this was after a 5 hour search of my car and trailer in which they went through everything (looking at and making jokes about everything from receipts to underwear), and an additional 3 hours waiting for the drug dog to show up.