The New Haven Register has identified the comic book at the center of a controversy that saw a teacher resign in Guilford, Connecticut as Eightball #22.  As previously reported by ICv2 (see 'Teacher Resigns Over Eightball') English teacher Nate Fisher resigned after parents of a 14-year-old girl in his freshman English class complained about Fisher's assignment of Dan Clowes' Eightball #22 as a 'make-up' for a missed summer reading assignment.  Originally published in 2001 by Fantagraphics, Eightball #22 is scathing satire of small town life that was reformatted into an 88-page graphic novel and published by Pantheon in 2005 as Ice Haven.  


Narrated by the failed poet Random Wilder (an obvious allusion to Thorton Wilder, author of 'Our Town,' a classic, but more positive examination of small town life), Eightball #22/Ice Haven consists of 29 distinct comic strips done in a variety of styles that piece together to form a mosaic portrait of life in the small  town of Ice Haven.  A review in the School Library Journal by Matthew Moffett of the Northern Virginia Community College in Annandale, Virginia rated Ice Haven 'Grade 10 and up,' so Fisher, who gave the book to a 9th grader, didn't miss by much.  However Guilford Superintendent of Schools Thomas Forcella called the book, which contains images of a naked woman and a peeping tom as well as verbal references to various sex acts as 'inappropriate for freshman students.' 


Charles Brownstein of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund told the New Haven Register that the pictorial nature of the graphic novel medium itself is part of the problem especially when individual panels are taken out of context.  The girl's father said he was upset because it might look 'like we got a teacher fired over a Harry Potter novel or Catcher in the Rye,' yet it would be hard to argue that the language or sexual allusions in Ice Haven are any more 'adult' than those in Catcher in the Rye.  It is the pictorial technique, not the actual content of Clowes' work that led the girl's father to (mistakenly) call it 'borderline pornography.'


An ugly side effect of the whole situation appears to be that the girl at the center of the case is being harassed by students who liked Mr. Fisher's teaching and blame her for getting their favorite teacher fired.  As that great social critic Marge Simpson noted after seeing the unintended consequences of her crusade to get the violence out of Itchy and Scratchy cartoons: ' I guess one person can make a difference, but most of the time, they probably shouldn't.'