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Barstow College to carry book banned by library: Study of Japanese comics pulled after complaints about sexual images
[May 02, 2006]

Barstow College to carry book banned by library: Study of Japanese comics pulled after complaints about sexual images

(The Desert Dispatch (Barstow, CA)(KRT) Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge) May 02--BARSTOW -- The Barstow Community College library will display copies of a controversial book that has been removed from the shelves of the San Bernardino County libraries.

The book, "Manga: 60 Years of Japanese Comics," was ordered off the library shelves April 12 after complaints by First District county Supervisor Bill Postmus.

"Our feeling is that we would like to see the book returned to the shelves of the county libraries," Kyri Freeman, librarian at the Thomas M. Kimball Library at the college.

The book was yanked from the county library shelves after a 16-year-old Victorville boy told his mom that the book contained sexual illustrations.

Freeman said she and many librarians believe the book did not go through an appropriate process before it was banned.

"In effect, we feel it was an act of censorship and not appropriate," she said.

Freeman said she has not seen the book, but noted the book is a scholarly look at the history of a wildly popular form of Japanese graphic novels.

Once known as comic books, graphic novels are no longer ten-cent Captain Marvel, Superman or Donald Duck stories told in drawings. Moder n graphic novels take on many forms and many are published for adults.

Manga is said to represent 40 percent of everything published in Japan, a country that is known for its avid readership of magazines, books and newspapers. Manga run the gamut from girls' and womens' comics, and those depicting violent samurai, disturbing horror and apocalyptic science fiction, and issues of censorship and protest, according to a Web site by Paul Gravett, the author of the book that has become the local focus of controversy.

Although the college library will celebrate Banned Library Week in September, the Manga book will be on display before that. Copies of the book were ordered recently and the display will probably be in place before the end of the month, Freeman said.

The book is something that might have already been in the library's collection, Freeman said. "It's the type of book we would get to fit in with our collection development policy," she said.

The college will be offering a class on graphic novels and other books in the near future, she said.

Freeman also pointed out that the film "V For Vendetta" was based on a graphic novel.

Freeman said books and other materials available at the college library are primarily for students and faculty. Members of the public can come into the library and view the books, but not check them out. Children are allowed in the library only if accompanied by a parent or guardian, she said.

Although the Manga book cannot be checked out at the county library branches, a link to the county library's Web site allows a viewer to purchase the book for $24.95.

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