Michael Tierney of The Comic Book Store in Little Rock, Arkansas sent us a warning about potential problems with a DC book shipping this week, as well as another update on the status of Arkansas's new display law.
Here is the standing of Arkansas Act 858 (Display Censorship
Law) as of last Wednesday: Thanks to the lawsuits by a multitude of Arkansas bookstores and other concerned institutions (including the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund), Act 858 is waiting to be scheduled for a court hearing. It's my understanding that if the Attorney General's Office writes an unfavorable review of Act 858 (which I believe they will), then the judge can choose to kill the law right then and there. But... and this is a big but... the judge can choose to do whatever he or she wants. If, in his or her discretion, the law if found to be applicable, then there should be an appeals to the Arkansas Supreme court - which would rule about a year from now. I'd guess that they would be on the same page as the Attorney General.
It makes me nervous to have so much hanging on the decision of one person - whose hasn't even been identified yet. The good news is that I've had (strictly second-hand) reports that some Arkansas legislators are considering trying to kill Act 858 themselves. The Arkansas legislature isn't supposed to meet again until 2005, but because of a school district reorganization problem - a special session of the legislature is about to be called. If the legislators do take the initiative and recall the law, then this whole problem could be end - right back where it all started.
As of last Wednesday, I was starting a fundraiser to try and keep public pressure on the legislators. Support from the media is there - someone from either the television stations or a local paper talks to me every week about this situation. Sometimes several people call or come in. I really felt like this problem was on the ropes, until an employee threw me completely off track - last Wednesday.
He had been inspecting the weekly sneak-peak pack from DC, and handed me a copy of Fallen Angels #2. With no warning on the cover, the contents contained multiple references to a sex act (that makes quite a buzz word) that I can't repeat here. Looking at the reorder list that came with the pack, there is no MR after the title. But Fables, listed directly above, clearly lists the MR warning. Going back to Previews, I confirmed that there was no warning posted there either.
So... my last week has been spent trying to get a warning out to other retailers. Since Peter David's last book for DC had his great finish with the Crisis Supergirl, I might very well have sold this book to a little girl looking to replace her Supergirl reading. If this gets sold to a kid by some other store across the state, then the proponents of censorship will have the fuel they need to relaunch their crusade. They won't get that fuel from me, but I'm worried about other retailers - not just in Arkansas, but across the nation.
A week ago I gave a public warning to beware of censorship
Firestarters. I just didn't realize that the firebug would come from WITHIN my own camp. I've spent the last week asking others, from DC on, to help warn retailers about this potential problem. Did you hear about it from anybody but me?
Note: We asked DC for comment on this issue but had not received one by press time. Peter David has issued a warning to retailers on his Website.