In a landmark case the Swedish Supreme Court decided that Shota and Lolicon are legal. A Swedish manga-translator has been cleared of child pornography charges in a case that has sparked debate about whether cartoon characters can be considered people. Simon Lundstroem had appealed to the Supreme Court against his conviction for possessing 39 sexual images depicting young-looking characters drawn in manga style.
While child pornography is illegal in Sweden as it is everywhere, it wasn’t clear whether the definition extended to drawn characters. The court ruled that all images of fantasy figures can not be considered as images of real children. While potentially offensive to some, the images posed a substantially lower risk of provoking abuse against children than realistic ones, the judges found. They said it was important to recognise that manga cartoons are deeply rooted in Japanese culture.
Freedom of speech campaigners will take heart from the judges’ contention that criminalising the possession of such images would be an infringement of the freedom of speech and of information. The chair of the Swedish Writers’ Union, Mats Soederlund, had been concerned that Swedish law was at risk of "forbidding fantasies". "To punish the possession of such drawings is a threat to the freedom of speech and art," he said.
The verdict was also applauded by the child pornography unit of the Swedish police who warned that investigating such cases was a dangerous waste of resources. They argued that there would have been a risk that the focus will shift from combating pictures and films of real child abuse to a discussion of whether we will judge drawings of fantasy figures as child pornography or art. "Let us not forget that it is children we must protect and not put imaginary figures on an equal footing with them." they said. [via BBC News and The Local]
Some people just want to see the world burn. Even if it’s just to rebuild it on the ashes of its blatant injustice. One of these people who always seem to be out to make trouble, who just can’t stay away from controversy is indie publisher Karl Andersson. Not too long ago he pointed out the hypocrisy & utter hysteria within the modern queer culture when it comes to teenage boys with his infamous Destroyer Journal (and using Comic Sans in its blog’s header wasn’t the only controversy about it
But now that Destroyer is (queer) history, Karl couldn’t keep his feet still. In-between several trips to Japan he found the time to not only bring something to Europe’s bookshops that was hardly ever seen there before, he’s also making a point in a political & cultural debate that is dividing (not only) Europe’s gay culture, art scene and literary circles. It’s the debate about not only a legal issue but a matter that will be a crucial part in forming our future; a matter of free speech & common sense.
He is publishing what is, as far as I can tell, the first commercially distributed shota manga in Europe: Entartete Shota 01 by Japanese manga artist Tsukumo Gou, translated to English by Karl and, unlike in Japan, uncensored. As he explains on his blog “Shotacon (shota) comics are drawings of young boys having sex. The genre is popular among male as well as female readers in Japan, and the artists too are of both sexes. The girl equivalent is called lolicon (loli).”
Even though no real boys are involved at any point in the the production of shota manga, they are illegal in many countries. The Supreme Court of Sweden, Karl’s homeland, is about to decide if these laws, which you could just as well use to ban thousands of years old depictions of boy sex in classical art, are constitutional. A decision that could become a precedent for the world.
If you want to become a part of this little piece of queer history you can order one of the 500 available issues at I <3 Mags or win one right here. Just leave a comment under this post and let us know if you think shota should be legal or not and explain why you think so. We’ll pick a random winner tomorrow!
While scientists argue over the causes of sexual orientation, most gay kids know at an early age (or are quickly made aware) they’re gender non-conforming, and their attraction towards the same sex also begins in childhood.
But children’s literature is still pretty squeamish about admitting this. Gay tales of self-discovery first found a home in young adult literature, the genre that by inventing “problem novels” provided a foot in the door to mainstream publishing for many nonconformist stories. But picture books – even playful picture books like King and King, or scientifically factual ones, like And Tango Makes Three – remain at the top of challenged and banned book lists.
Rainy Day Recess (Northwest Press) compiles Dave Kelly’s “Steven Comics”, covers and drawings, which ran from 1995 to 1998 in gay and alternative newspapers. “Steven’s Comics” are for teens and adults, but like Lynda Barry’s work, concentrate on the social life of kids. Steven grows up in the Pacific Northwest in the 1970s (and seventies fans will revel in Kelly’s astute attention to detail…remember record music clubs? Donnie and Marie? We are Family?) His life isn’t ideal; his parents’ divorce means an extend stay with his grandma, and Steven is often uprooted and distressed due to his parents’ instabilities. Read on…
Did you know that The X-Men‘s Wolverine had a bisexual son named Daken? In addition to claws and a healing factor, he’s got special pheromones that can make anyone attracted to him. He basically sleeps with people to play mind games and gain access to secret files.
Anyway, Marvel just announced his comic book, Daken: Dark Wolverine (the only queer solo lead they’re having in their line-up), is being cancelled because it wasn’t making enough money. Did Marvel market him enough to the queer mutant community?
Readers bummed about Daken’s exit (February’s issue #21 is expected to be the series’ last) should know that he’ll still pop up in other series. And in the meantime, you can still enjoy the greater universe of queer comic-book characters, including The X-Men‘s bossy bottom, Northstar.
Miles Morales, a half-Black, half-Hispanic teen, has been introduced as the next Spider-Man. Marvel Comics killed off Peter Parker in the series Issue #160 last June. USA Today reports:
In his first appearance, he simply breaks up a fight. But readers will learn the true origin of Morales and how he became the new Spider-Man when Ultimate Spider-Man relaunches in September with a new No. 1 issue.
Morales’ journey will be a similar vehicle for today’s fans, says Marvel’s editor in chief, Axel Alonso. "What you have is a Spider-Man for the 21st century who’s reflective of our culture and diversity. We think that readers will fall in love with Miles Morales the same way they fell in love with Peter Parker."
But when a Marvel artist hints that a new gay superhero may be coming soon, does she mean that Morales will invite some men back to his web? Italian concept artist Sara Pichelli tells USA Today, “Maybe sooner or later a black or gay—or both—hero will be considered something absolutely normal.” So while Morales probably won’t be gay, another leading superhero character very easily could be. Considering the number of openly gay caped crusaders—from the DC’s lesbian Batwoman and the Question, gay alien Starman in the Justice League, and X-Men speedster Northstar—a bigger-name superqueero is on the horizon. But who? Well, as part of its company-wide relaunch in September, DC Comics revealed Superman will no longer be married to—or even dating—Lois Lane. [via Towelroad & Queerty, thanks for the heads-up to Rimmer]
Meanwhile other comic artists have solid plans for queer heroes and are trying to raise money for a comic called The Pride. Here’s what they say about their project:
Have you ever been sick of being misrepresented? Of having no one like you to look up to? Have you ever wanted to change everything? Well, FabMan has. In a world populated by superpowers, the superhero is common. Sadly for FabMan (Tomorrow’s Fabulous Man, Today), he feels a deep schism in the representation of his community, his own heroic exploits being presented as just big jokes in the news. Wan…ting to fight for change, he forms PRIDE, the world’s premier LGBT supergroup. Not a gay superteam, just a team where most members are LGBT. Not exactly receiving the desired response, the group faces opposition from the confrontational Justice Division, more aggressive misrepresentation by the media and are then taken advantage of in the plans of the nefarious Reverend. After a serious trial by fire, the team find themselves the only super team in the world capable of stopping The Reverend’s diabolical plot for world domination.
Join FabMan, Wolf, Sapphire, Frost, Twink, Bear, Angel and White Trash on their mission to help people and improve LGBT representation in the process. If you want to support the project (and see your name printed in it) you can donate a few bucks here.
Gay comic creators Mark Brill and Charles Christensen have created a new comic called The Power Within. Published by queer comic company Northwest Press, The Power Within follows a 13-year old boy named Shannon who turns to his inner superhero to combat anti-gay bullying. Sounds a bit awkward but we’ll see, the intention sure is commendable.
And not surprisingly, the men who made this found inspiration in their personal experiences and real life news. From Christensen’s introductory letter:
Fall of 2010 was a turning point. The news reports acknowledged the role anti-gay bullying played in [Tyler and others'] deaths… Peoples’ eyes were opened to the fact that anti-gay harassment shouldn’t have to be a part of growing up any more than sexism or racism and that there were grave consequences for ignoring the problem.
Like Mark and I, [Shannon] turned to comic book heroes for his escape; he found a superhero within him to help him deal with his day-to-day challenges. If you’re struggling, be that superhero. Fight the good fight to be who you are, without apology.
The Power Within will be available at comic shops soon, but Bleeding Cool reports that Northwest will also distribute the special one-shot issue to student and school organizations for free. A preview of a few pages can be found here.