Saturday, September 27, 2014

Twice Challenged: The Watchmen

Saturday, September 27, 11:30 am

Support Banned Books Week, bring a lunch and learn about the misunderstood history of a commonly censored genre from WCPL librarians and Epic Loot Games & Comics staff. Trivia (with prizes) after the talk. 

Banned Books Week: September 21-27, 2014

Banned Books Week celebrates the freedom to read by bringing awareness to censorship and challenged materials. Every year The American Library Association with the national Banned Books Week planning committee selects a theme or genre of books that have been challenged. This year the focus is on the frequently challenged genre of comics and graphic novels. During the week leading up to Banned Books Week and throughout the week itself, we are devoting our Fine Print posts to graphic novels.  We hope to raise awareness of the ongoing threats of censorship and to spread knowledge about graphic novels as a unique form of storytelling.

I am going to begin by saying the only graphic novel I have ever read is Captain Underpants and this was because my son was reading the series and I wasn't sure I liked them. He loved them! They made him laugh and gave him the desire to go back to the library to read more of them. I tolerated Professor Poopy Pants, because my son was reading books. Reading them. Devouring them and coming back for more. How do you say no to that? I can't/couldn't/wouldn't and last but not least won't say no to any book that will get my child to read. If I ever have a question about a book my children want to read, I pick it up and read it before they do. 

I have never had a desire to read a graphic novel. Sure I enjoy reading comic books, who doesn't? They are an easy diversion from everyday life and they are quick reads.  I am not so sure that The Watchmen will be a quick read. It is huge. My son assures me this graphic novel will not harm my sensibilities (can you tell I am a bit nervous to read my first adult graphic novel). Sounds silly to be afraid to pick up a book, after all it is a book and I love books. But this one has been "challenged" am I going to let that stop me. No! I laugh in the face of danger.  Well obviously, son is leading the charge. In my mind I keep hearing the little engine that could say, " I think I can. I think I can."  

I did it! I have read my first graphic novel and now I wonder what the fuss was all about. The Watchmen is a Hugo Award-winning graphic novel, which chronicles the fall from grace of a group of super-heroes. It's set in the 1980's in an alternative timeline where the U.S. won the Vietnam War. This is a dark story, but it also has moments of unbridled humanity. It dissects life, love, death, war, comic books and the superhero as a romantic/mythological figure for the century. Much to my surprise, I enjoyed the book. I then went on to read why this book was challenged.

Two schools challenged The Watchmen. The first challenge was in 2001 at a High School in Harrisonburg, VA. This challenge was unsuccessful and two copies of the book remain in the school library today. The result of the second challenge, which occurred in May 2004 at a Florida school, is unknown. The reasons for the challenges include sexism, offensive language and that it is unsuitable for the age group. You might be interested to know that Captain Underpants is one of the most frequently challenged books. It is challenged for  its use of offensive language, violence and unsuitable for the age group. Guess that's why I had doubts about it, but it got my son to read. Again I ask how do you say no to that?

Banned books week is a celebration of our freedom to choose what we read. I am thankful that I have the right to choose what I read are you?

No comments: