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How To Keep Manga Fans Out Of Jail

October 13, 2008 | | Comments 36 |

©iStockphoto.com/Alejandro Raymond

©iStockphoto.com/Alejandro Raymond

(2/14/10: Final sentencing update of Handley at bottom of post. Pretty grim…)

I’ve written about them before, but if there ever was a time for yaoi fans to donate some money to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, it’s now.

A Manga Fan Is Arrested In His Home For Owning Manga

From CBLDF’s October 09, 2008 press release:

Mr. Handley’s case began in May 2006 when he received an express mail package from Japan that contained seven Japanese comic books. That package was intercepted by the Postal Inspector, who applied for a search warrant after determining that the package contained cartoon images of objectionable content. Unaware that his materials were searched, Handley drove away from the post office and was followed by various law enforcement officers, who pulled him over and followed him to his home. Once there, agents from the Postal Inspector’s office, Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, Special Agents from the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, and officers from the Glenwood Police Department seized Handley’s collection of over 1,200 manga books or publications; and hundreds of DVDs, VHS tapes, laser disks; seven computers, and other documents. Though Handley’s collection was comprised of hundreds of comics covering a wide spectrum of manga, the government is prosecuting images appearing in a small handful.

To give some context for how extraordinary this is, CBLDF Executive Director Charles Brownstein said this:

Handley’s case is deeply troubling, because the government is prosecuting a private collector for possession of art. In the past, CBLDF has had to defend the First Amendment rights of retailers and artists, but never before have we experienced the Federal Government attempting to strip a citizen of his freedom because he owned comic books.

To Protect The Children

And what moved this postal inspector to set up this sting? Well, of course it has to do with alleged drawings of underage characters. Not photographs, mind you — or even drawings of actual minors — but drawn manga characters who only ever existed in the minds of the creators before ever seeing life on paper. Luckily, in this case, the judge dismissed the issue of alleged child pornography:

(Again from the press release)

Eric Chase and his team at the United Defense Group have been vigorously defending Handley, and scored a major First Amendment victory earlier this year when the judge found portions of the PROTECT Act unconstitutional in his ruling on a motion to dismiss. District Judge Gritzner of the Southern District of Iowa found that subsections 1466(a)(2) and (b)(2) of 18 U.S.C. 1466A unconstitutional. Those sections make it a crime to knowingly produce, distribute, receive, or possess with intent to distribute, “a visual depiction of any kind, including a drawing, cartoon, sculpture, or painting,” that “is, or appears to be” a minor engaged in sexual conduct. Judge Gritzner found that those sections restrict protected speech and are constitutionally infirm.

Simon Jones provides his as-always excellent analysis why the defense team succeeded in this motion:

…the presiding judge has ruled that the portion of the PROTECT Act which deals specifically with the depiction of minors cannot be applied to this case. (The Supreme Court earlier this year addressed this issue. While this section survived, the justices were also clear that it can only be applied to fictional imagery when the image is clearly based on or derived from actual identifiable minors, i.e. a tracing or digital composite imagery.) [EDITOR NOTE: I discuss this ruling a bit and quote some of the text in this comment -- look at the bottom of the comment for my discussion.]

But this manga fan can still be prosecuted for purchasing and possessing obscene material — and faces up to twenty years in prison for this alleged crime!

(Again from the CBDLF press release: )

Handley now faces charges under the surviving sections of 1466A, which will require a jury to determine whether the drawings at issue are legally obscene. The material cannot be deemed obscene unless it meets all three of the criteria of the Miller test for obscenity: “(a) whether the average person, applying contemporary community standards would find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest; [EDITOR NOTE: That means it's intended to sexually arouse -- offensive violence is, of course, in itself still considered protected speech. ] (b) whether the work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by the applicable state law; and (c) whether the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.” The jury must answer all three questions in the affirmative in order to convict.

How much danger is this manga fan in? Simon gives us the real-world context:

However, Handley is still on the hook for obscenity related offenses, and this is where the waters become murky. The defense’s best chance is to convince the jury that the manga passes the last of the three-pronged Miller test. But this is an uphill battle, as the jury is asked to decide (in the third portion of the test) whether the work has “serious artistic value,” instead of whether the work was a “serious artistic endeavor.” The spirit of the law really asks for the latter – serious artistic endeavors still routinely produce bad art that nevertheless deserve protection, unfortunately that’s not how the standard is worded. And obscenity laws have a built-in catch 22: if a jury finds the material not obscene, they are in effect saying that the material is regularly consumed in their community… at least, that’s what the prosecution would lead the jury to believe. Now, how many people who own porn would admit that to, say, a prospective employer? Their friends and relatives? In a court of law? The fear and embarrassment factor is so great, juries often completely disregard expert testimony.

So, without a lot of smart defensive lawyering, things look pretty grim for this manga fan. Now, why is this guy’s case important for you and me? Because case law sets precedent. If this guy is successfully prosecuted, it emboldens prosecutors to go after other manga fans and makes it more likely that they will get convictions. As we all know, “protecting the children” has tremendous political appeal — and manga fans both in this country and in others are often seen as easy targets for the media and the government.

What this prosecution needs is a splash of cold water.

What Can You Do

Prosecutions are very expensive — for the defendant. The government has vast financial resources they can to bring to bear to “protect the children” — fictional or not –and the typical manga fan, as you know, often doesn’t. The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund is contributing money, time and expertise to defend this manga fan — and I know they are just squeaking by in terms of having any money to work with. Let’s face it — when it comes to providing legal funds to protect comic book creators and retailers from censorship and prosecution, how many people do you know who have given any money at all?

Well, now’s the time. Even a little bit of money will make a huge difference. Give $20. Give $40. Hell, give $5 dollars. Whatever. If you think what the government is doing here is wrong — if you think people should be able to buy and own manga — even manga that you, yourself, might not approve of — without going to jail for twenty years, then give money to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund right now.

If you give $30 on this page, you even get a snazzy print of some green creature with horns holding a torch, and gosh, how cool is that?

(And if you don’t want to give one of their predetermined amounts, you can just use the PayPal Donation Button on the right sidebar of their press release page. [Scroll down just a bit on that page and look to the right for PayPal.] I just gave them $100 that way — took me ten seconds.)

You can’t let the government get away with this. You need to take action right now. Become a card-carrying member of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. Donate some money to help protect creators, retailers and fellow manga fans from unfair prosecutions.

Because the next manga fan they could go after — could very well be you.


(Thank you to MangaBlog for making me aware of this. For more information, here are other links Brigid at MangaBlog and Simon reference:

CBLDF in Manga Obscenity Case
Partial Victory in Handley Case Ruling
Charles Brownstein On The CBLDF Signing On As Special Consultant In Christopher Handley Case)

And here’s an opinion piece at The Comics Reporter about why the issue is the law not the man.

And now Simon points to an excerpt from the new issue of Comic Foundry that speaks to prosecutions relating to sex in comics in general. It doesn’t take in account of the latest decision in the Handley case that takes the chld pornography charge off the table, but it does speak to other laws, such as a new law in Oregon that “criminalizes giving or selling material with visual or verbal depictions of sexual conduct to anyone under 18, ‘for the purpose of arousing or satisfying the sexual desires’. Definitely worth reading.

UPDATE 12-17-08: And here are two editorials on this matter by industry giants that are both well-argued AND encourage support for the CBDLF, so if you’re still on the fence about making that donation, check these out:

Don’t Let it Happen: Donate to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund Today by Carl Horn

Manga, Censorship and Obscenity by Jason Thompson

UPDATE 5-14-09: Now here’s a great essay from ComiPress — really great, actually — on two cases of Americans prosecuted for viewing cartoon images. Balanced and smart. (And it reveals that Handley is likely to plead guilty in the hopes to end the nightmare the government is putting him through…)

The always excellent Brigid Alverson writes her own clear-headed, thoughtful and easy-to-digest take on that essay.

And a response from CBLDF Charles Brownstein On The Christopher Handley Case about why a guilty plea is even possible. (The CBLDF usually makes pleading “not guilty” a condition of their willingness to take on First Amendment cases.)

UPDATE 6-18-09: Handley, on the advice of his attorney, did in fact plead guilty. This Wired article gives the details and includes a link to Handley’s plea agreement (PDF file) (in which Handley gives up pretty much all of his rights and exposes himself to a potential sentence of a decade in prison for owning comics. While I don’t think that this attorney acted in Handley’s best interest here by advising him to plead guilty, I am not an attorney myself — hopefully, this will mean that Handley will be able to get on with his life and will not, in fact, be spending years in prison and/or paying a fine of up to $250,000.00. I suppose we’ll see when it comes time to sentence him.

UPDATE 2-14-10: Well, if being sent to prison for 6 months, serving five years of probation while receiving treatment “intended to provide [Handley] with diagnosis and treatment for sexually and/or gender identity or other mental health issues” can be considered getting on with his life, then it was a great decision to plead guilty. Based on what I was reading about the sentencing recommendations, I can’t say I am surprised, but the whole thing makes me very angry. While I’m not personally a fan of shota or lolicon, the books are just ink on paper with no actual children ever involved! This is an awful example of the best of intentions (protecting children) snowballing into over-reaching hysteria. It’s a travesty of justice and a very dangerous precedent. (Although, as Simon Jones of Icarus Publishing points out, happily not a legal precedent. Also, for more on the psychological treatment issue, check out the comments section of this The Yaoi Review post where the author of the ANN article reveals more details.)

UPDATE 2-21-10: I’ll close this out with one last link, from ICv2, which highlights both the absurdity and the tragedy of this case. The absurdity come from the prosecution’s argument that no real children needed to be involved in this crime because comics are “powerful”:

“Some may argue that the crime at issue is not serious because no real children were involved. Such a viewpoint is short-sighted because it gives little weight to the nature of obscenity crimes, in general, and to the specific images involved in this case. A picture, proverbially, paints a thousand words, and there is no doubt that comic books, graphic novels, and works of manga and anime have a powerful ability to communicate through their use of dramatic imagery. Since the 1960s, the genre of comic books has been transformed from a target market of younger customers to a broad, word-wide market aimed at older, more mature consumers. The ground-breaking graphic novel, Watchmen, by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons was even named by Time magazine of one of its top 100 novels of the 20th century. The power of the illustrated story should not be short-changed.”

and the tragedy is nicely summed up by Handley’s friend in a letter to the judge:

“Regarding this case, I am personally unable to understand the reasoning and justice behind the criminalization of the act of reading a comic book that contains objectionable sexual material. This is especially hard to understand when other more heinous material permeates our society and has not been criminalized.”

“Murder, for instance, is glorified and portrayed with real humans in movies. If it is true that a person is likely to commit the crime of child molestation merely because that person has been looking at drawings depicting that act then why is it not a crime to watch movies or look at drawings of murder?…”

“I am truly sorry that Chris has been the victim of such a pitiful legal defense and lawmakers attempting to legislate morality. It is my hope that you will also see the injustice of this situation. I fully trust and expect you to carry out your responsibility to ‘we the people’ and do what is right.”

Lost his job, lost his computer, five years supervised probation, 6 months in prison.

Sad, stupid and just awful…

)



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About the Author: Filmmaker by day, yaoi creator by night, Alex has dedicated himself to helping cute guys fight evil and find love.

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  1. ZER0 says:

    I believe this is because America is a shitty, homophoic, conservative-filled country that can't appreciate art. D:<

  2. @ZER0

    Yeah, I found this very frustrating too. :-(

    I'm not willing to count all of America out yet, though. (Talk to me after the election… ;-)) People want to protect children from harm so badly that overreactions like this can feel justifiable. I applaud the desire to protect kids from predators, but you can't throw reason and common sense out the door for "the sake of the children". There is real harm in these overreactions.

    Prosecutions like this have a chilling effect on creators of serious art who would like to explore the full spectrum of what it means to be human. And yes, that includes what it means to be sexual as a teenager. As a creator myself, there are stories that I hesitate to tell, not because I believe they would be harmful to anyone in the telling, and frankly not even because of the fear of jail time (I am sure I would eventually be vindicated), but because the expense and hassle of a trial are very, very daunting. I ask myself "Is this story really worth that kind of trauma?" and even just in the asking, I have to admit, that story is less likely to be told.

    If we saw those "objectionable" manga Handley is being prosecuted for, we might very well be disturbed by what we see, but if no real children were ever involved in their creation, it is nothing short of mania to make it a crime to own those comics.

    Sure, get mad, ZER0. But channel that anger. Give money to the CBDLF. Write thoughtful letters to your political representatives educating them about this issue — and the fact that they have constituents who deeply care about First Amendment rights. And most importantly, get out and vote the right way in this upcoming election — and get all your friends out to the vote too!

    Thanks for your thoughts,

    Alex

  3. Robyn says:

    Sorry, but I have to disagree on this 1. (& I know that I'm going to get hate mail for this but I really don't give 2 tits. That's right, I said it… TITS.) It depends on the type of manga. Personally, I think shota & loli manga & anime are sick & I do my absolute best to avoid that crap like the plague. I don't mind yaoi & yuri that features people who are adults or have an adult look. But when they look like little kids or have "chibi" features & child like bodies I take great offense to that because even tho they are drawn images they still are still portrayed as children or being very childlike. To me, it's basically making use of a very sick loophole. & Don't even think that just because America has a new leader things will go in your favor. The new administration WILL NOT tolerate or be on the side of ANYTHING that even REMOTELY looks like kiddie porn– even if it's anime.

  4. @Robyn

    Robyn, thank you for your thoughts. While I don’t presume to speak for everyone who is troubled by this prosecution, I don’t think your experience of shota & loli would be all that different from that of most of those who feel that the government has overstepped here. Personally, I don’t care for shota or loli. Not being a medical or psychiatric professional, I would not use words like “sick” to describe those materials but I often find what I’ve seen of shota/loli to be very disturbing. I’ll never be a fan.

    But that’s not the point here. We live in a country founded on rights. One of those rights is the right to free speech. In order for rights to have any meaning, they must represent a special claim against the majority. Even if a view is tremendously unpopular, that cannot be the basis on which to suppress it. The fact that something turns our stomach — that we think it is “crap” — is not enough. If we truly are to value free speech, then we have to allow the dissemination and viewing of things we dislike so much we want to call it names like “sick” and “crap”. Otherwise, it is not a fundamental right — it’s merely a permission granted by the majority that can be revoked based on current tastes at any time.

    If we are to suppress speech — and of course I am using the term “speech” here to mean anything publicly communicated including anime and manga stories — we need a much more compelling reason, usually one that involves the serious endangerment of other fundamental rights, such as the right to personal health and safety. The classic example of unprotected speech is shouting fire in a crowded movie theater — the very real risk of immediate physical harm is clear and difficult to deny and it’s fairly easy to see that it outweighs the harm in suppressing that speech. Likewise, threatening to murder someone also falls outside of protected speech for similar reasons.

    But in the case of shota and loli, one is forced to ask, who exactly is being harmed? The reason child pornography is so heinous isn’t because people take “great offense” — we’re a cranky species, people take great offense at a lot of things — rather it’s because child pornography involving actual children has clear, awful and often lifelong consequences for the real children involved. This is why even though there is plenty of pornography that falls under the classification of protected speech, no form of child pornography does. The clear, actual harm to real, living young people is just too great — their right to safety and health far outweighs the pornographer’s right to free speech. But if no actual children are involved in the making of a shota/loli manga — and the work is only viewed by consenting adults — you can’t make that argument.

    Of course, you might try to claim harm through indirect means. You could argue that those who view shota/loli are more likely to be encouraged to eventually act out their fantasies with real, live children. But this is a question of fact that must be proven — and it’s my understanding that there is little evidence to support this even with pornography involving actual children. (PDF) You might also argue that shota/loli manga could be used by pedophiles to seduce minors into believing that underage sex is appealing and thus its possession might be harmful in that way — as a means to “groom” young people. But just because we can picture a potential possible misuse of a literary work is not sufficient justification to prosecute those who own it. I might potentially choose to beat a flight attendant over the head with my copy of War & Peace, but that doesn’t mean that the TSA should be detaining me for packing Tolstoy in my carry-on.

    Now if we can establish through factual evidence a clear connection between owning shota/loli and actual harm to real children or adults, then yes, we would absolutely need to take action in spite of the right of free speech. But that doesn’t seem to be what’s happening in Handley’s case. What seems to be going on is that a handful of materials that Handley owned turned the stomach of a postal inspector and an overzealous DA. And instead of doing what you choose to do — which is to do your “absolute best to avoid that crap like the plague” — they chose to arrest him and expose him to great legal expense and potentially years in prison.

    Now you might say “Good for them! Anyone who likes that stuff deserves what they get!” But we live in a diverse country. Is there nothing in your library that those in power could take “great offense to”? There were many people who felt not only that the Harry Potter books were “crap”, but that they were actively, perniciously satanic and evil. Being in the comfortable majority who do not agree with that view, we might smirk at those people, comfortable that we are safe from any prosecutions they might lobby for. But at least for me, as a gay man, I am fully aware it was not that long ago that people like me could be arrested, incarcerated and institutionalized for owning erotic material that turned the stomachs of those in power. Even though everyone involved in the making of those erotic materials would be consenting adults — even though that material would be owned by a consenting adult for use in the privacy of his own home — that didn’t matter. What mattered is that those in power thought it was “sick” — and so they were going to enforce a “cure”.

    And this is why I feel this is a battle worth fighting. Not because I think you or President-Elect Obama or anyone else should develop an affection for cartoon kiddie porn. But rather because it is not right for my government to be prosecuting its citizens for owning drawings that harm no actual living beings.

    I doubt anything I say here is likely to convince you that Handley is being unfairly prosecuted. But when you do argue against this issue, it’s important for you to remember why people like me think it’s important. Not because we approve of what Handley was reading, but rather because we find it dangerous for the government to arrest its citizens for owning “child pornography” that never involved any actual children.

    No, I might not want to have a beer with Mr. Handley, but I certainly am not so naive to think that what the government is doing to him could never happen to me. It’s not about whether we approve of any particular genre, it’s about government abuse of power. And if there is any way that the new administration is relevant to this discussion, it’s in the hope that we might just see a little bit less of the latter…

    Anyway, hope to see you and any number of tits you’re willing to give here again sometime. Our High School BL story “Tough” might be a bit young for you, but the characters in “Artifice” are all full-on grown-ups, both hunky and sweet. Perhaps we can get you on the side of that. ;-)

  5. Alex,

    I don't know if you've seen any info regarding the Simpson's characters child porn case but the guy was found guilty. What do you think? Here's the link to the article on the case:

    http://www.icv2.com/articles/news/13879.html

    EDIT: I didn't initially see this was an Australian case and not one in the U.S. so I was concerned about how it would affect the Iowa case but in this instance, it wouldn't.

  6. @The Yaoi Review

    Yes, that case is one of those moments of international insanity that gives you some hope for our system in the States. That the judge would argue that cartoon characters should be considered "persons" in need of protection is just bananas. (And, in fairness, it seems he was also hoping to "deter the production of other material, including cartoons, that could 'fuel demand for material that does involve the abuse of children''. – stuff..co.nz – the "slippery slope" argument again.) We are in a state of irrational hysteria over the very worthy desire to protect kids in the U.S. right now, but seemed not to have taken it to that extreme quite yet…

    In other news, Neil Gaiman has joined the fight. And based on that article, it seems like yaoi books might be at issue. So, I suppose this fight is even more relevant to us than I originally thought…

    Thank you for commenting. :-)

    Alex

  7. @Alex Woolfson

    I did see that Neil Gaiman got involved and have been watching the case closely. BTW, it was supposed to go to trial earlier this month but court files show they got an extension until February. I believe if I remember correctly the case has been pushed off 11 times so I don't hold out much hope this is going to be resolved anytime soon. They are still fighting over the evidence to be allowed into the trial. Oh well… if it means he has a better chance then so be it. I just feel bad for this guy. It's got to be extremely stressfull knowing you may be spending a minimum of 5 years in prision for liking manga.

  8. Dee says:

    Speaking of this guy, I wonder what happened to the case.

    Hmmm… very valid points in your 4th post, dude. The need for at least some creative leeway is a must so that creators can explore certain issues without being clamped down on.

    Reminds me of something, btw: I've read at least a few hentai/yaoi works that took a much more realistic point of view concerning rape and covered the consequences of it. And yes, some of the victims were minors, teens to be exact.

    Now the thing is: a lot of people didn't like those works 'cos it was "freaky". Heck, if some of them really wanted to, they probably would've campaigned to get such topics banned and to prevent such works from ever being published in .

    My thoughts were: the works speak of the suffering, trauma and damage to the victims as they suffer the consequences of issues like drug addiction, non-consensual sexual arousal and the fact that they took everything for granted, so no one is there for them. Of course it'd shock, jar and even terrify the readers and not be accepted by many.

    Now, if such works were banned, I'd be very sad. Why? Because there is "pretend rape" and "real rape". And there're a lack of comics willing to discuss "real rape". And there're a lot of people who don't understand why rape hurts because they've never experienced it before. Short of showing them a real video, comics might be a good medium too.

    • Dee -

      Yeah, I've been wondering about the Handley case myself. The internets, unfortunately, have been silent. The most recent update I could find says that the Handley case has been postponed with no firm date set but that was in February…

      And I certainly agree that the realistic portrayal of rape and violence can be an appropriate choice for artistic expression. I remember watching Heavenly Creatures and finding the sudden, very realistic violence at the end an amazingly important counterpoint to the fantasies of violence that came before it. I think that our media spends so much time offering sanitized violence as entertainment, it can be easy to lose sight of what the effects of real violence are. I of course don't think that "sanitized violence" should be censored, but I do think that creators do us a service when they show us the real consequences of one human being trying to hurt another. And comics can absolutely be a great way to show that.

  9. Dee says:

    Hmmm… thanks for the info. I tried looking at at a bunch of sites but was unable to find much info about the case status. May things progress well for him.

    Thanks for the link, too. The movie sounds interesting.

    Yeah well… sanitized violence can be all right if you're tired of all the blood and gore but I often prefer writing with consequences. Otherwise, the writing just treats everyone and the after-effects equally, that “no matter what happened, they’ll live happily forever and everyone will be friends for life”.

    I recall this oneshot, Install by Chi-Ran, where this teenager(likely heterosexual) was raped repeatedly by some man and other males which brutally reinforced that rape is always about power and control, that the victim is an object and that an aggressor will use any means to break someone.

    The manga didn’t really show the long-term after-effects of the rapes but it did hint that whatever his future, it’d likely revolve around addiction to m/m sex and other psychological effects.

    But the best thing was the author’s understanding that bdsm is about trust and consent, sexual torture/rape is not, which too many stories(novels, comics, etc.) fail to grasp and distinguish.

    A pity that this oneshot isn't available in English, since the content makes it difficult for licensing and I suspect most readers aren't prepared to deal with the rape of a straight male. =(

    Oh and the layers… make me realise that writing isn't easy even if it's a short story.

    • Yeah, I hope they will too — and that this delay is something that benefits Handley instead of running up expenses and killing his defense's momentum.

      But the best thing was the author’s understanding that bdsm is about trust and consent, sexual torture/rape is not, which too many stories(novels, comics, etc.) fail to grasp and distinguish.

      Indeed. I do believe there's a place for pure rape-fantasy — where there isn't consent but it's still hot. Those kind of stories are a turn-off for me, but seduction stories are actually a big turn-on for me, and it could be argued that there's some kind of connection there with non-con, so I could see those for whom fantasy non-con is hot.

      But in real life, the distinction is very important and subject to a lot of misunderstanding. And, even in fantasy lit, rapes can be treated so trivially as to be downright ridiculous Extra points to authors who can handle it well.

  10. Dee says:

    Same here, if the delay actually makes things worse… it'd be disappointing.

    Well, you do make some valid points about rape fantasy being hot and having some amount of attraction. Let it be said that the "forbidden" is sometimes more exciting than the normal stuff 'cos people just enjoy breaking the routine or even pretending to. Btw, what do you mean about "seduction" stories?

    And I think that cos of that poor distinction and lack of understanding about rape, there needs to be much more discussion about that topic. I don't think any human deserves to live in shame and constant humiliation just because prick decided to f*ck around with their life.

    Yeah, kudos to Chi-ran when she actually decides to tackle interesting topics. Most of her art seems to feature feminine-looking men though so there's little I could recommend if it ever got licensed. *laughs*

    Bah… Duo Guardian? Their writing is pretty simple since it focuses a lot on smut.

    Well, try Miyamoto Kano instead. Her writing is not everyone's cup of tea but she can write pretty credible stories.

    http://www.amazon.com/Lovers-Souls-Yaoi-Deux-Miya

    There's also The Judged by Akira Honma(DramaQueen) but too bad it's likely out of print. A shame since this mangaka's stories can seem more like Hollywood action stories at times. I really wanted to get it but oh well.

    Or for truly in-depth stuff, if you're not against Korean manhwa and a touch of dark, twisted drama, Let Dai is quite interesting. Though it doesn't seem as tragic as many write-ups portray it. It's about 15 vols though.

    http://www.amazon.com/Let-Dai-Vol-Sooyeon-Won/dp/

  11. Btw, what do you mean about “seduction” stories?

    Pretty much what you'd expect. Erotic stories where one person is initially reluctant but eventually really gets into it. I find that change kinda hot. Look for it in an upcoming chapter of Tough;-)

    I don’t think any human deserves to live in shame and constant humiliation just because prick decided to f*ck around with their life.

    Of course I agree 100% with that.

    try Miyamoto Kano instead. Her writing is not everyone’s cup of tea but she can write pretty credible stories.

    Yeah, I can see she has some chops. I've actually read Lovers and Souls at least three times, trying to get up momentum for a review of it. But, for whatever reason, I just wasn't turned on by it, in any sense really. I could recognize above-average writing and art, but the stories didn't do much for me and I didn't really want to write a "meh" review. While negative reviews can sometimes be entertaining — and I will occasionally write them if moved strongly by the material as you saw with White Guardian — for the most part, I want my reviews here to be recommendations of things I think most folks will enjoy. With Lovers and Souls , I just couldn't go there.

    But Let Dai sounds interesting. That it's called a book of "unbridled passion and unfathomable pain" gives me some pause — I'm not sure I'm ready to sign up for a 15 volume ride that ends in tragedy. But I like what the Amazon reviewers are saying about it… Does it all end in tears?

  12. Dee says:

    "Pretty much what you’d expect. Erotic stories where one person is initially reluctant but eventually really gets into it. I find that change kinda hot. Look for it in an upcoming chapter of Tough… ;-)"

    Oooh… I think I know what you mean. Ahhh… yes, those can be fun too. *snickers* Oooh… Tough! :D

    Well I agree that Miyamoto's work isn't for everyone. Some love it, some dislike it. Then again, she has a lot of titles with many couples and differing writing, so… it can be hard to recommend her titles. And you’re right about not reviewing certain titles ‘cos if one has got nothing good to say, then it’s very hard to give out constructive criticism.

    About "Let Dai", this is why I said some of the reviews sound a little "over the top". Gee… they make it sound like 3/4 of the cast died or something. Anything that deals in-depth with issues of violence and teenage problems would not be very light-hearted, no?

    Besides, I suspect it's their expectations that media can't contain matured topics, that affect their comments. To me, Let Dai is not that bad as I've seen worse stuff in comics, which can be far more depressing and soul-crushing than this. However, why not borrow the first 2 to 3 volumes for a look-see? If you think that it's going in a very tragic direction, then stop?

    Oh and to add on to the Harley case, btw… I notice that certain manga characters can look really young to some people's eyes. Maybe it's just an art style or maybe it's modelled after Asians(Japanese, Chinese, etc.) who tend to look really young and so on. But I can see how the accusations against him could arise since people often apply gender and age stereotypes when reading manga. Like “all 20 year old men/women must look like ____ or _____.”

    Oh and the lack of facial and body hair in lots of manga only makes it worse since in most Western societies, adults are supposed to have some. And in certain Western comics(print and electronic), if you’re not going to depict that, then you need to find other ways of making them look/appear “matured” like having big breasts, lots of muscles, being macho, applying ethnic/socio-economic stereotypes, etc. Otherwise, lack of facial/body hair becomes a social taboo(same for having too much of it, btw). Perhaps I’m off on this, though.

    • Hey Dee,

      You've convinced me. I'll give Let Dai a shot. After an investment of reading 15 volumes, I would want a happily-ever-after ending, but so long as it is not oh-so-tragic, then I still think I'll find the journey worth it. I'll order the first 2 books from Amazon and we'll take it from there. :-)

      And yes, I think that the fact that many anime characters look quite young to Western eyes is part of the problem manga fans here in the U.S. face. Read through that article I linked to yesterday (now below this comment — hmmm… not sure what I think of the new WordPress Inline Reply feature…). In that article you can read how misunderstandings on the part of Handley's Pre-Trial Officer about anime and manga have caused him all kinds of trouble — and this is all while he is "presumed innocent"!

      Considering that showing pubic hair in manga has been restricted under Article 175 of Japan's Penal Code it can be quite easy to perceive even fully adult characters as very underage. That article is the most sobering and scary thing I've read on this subject so far. I have sympathy for Handley if he feels he just can't go on, but I really hope that he does not decide to enter a guilty plea — this crazy interpretation of the law needs to be challenged.

      • Dee says:

        >>>>You’ve convinced me. I’ll give Let Dai a shot. After an investment of reading 15 volumes, I would want a happily-ever-after ending, but so long as it is not oh-so-tragic, then I still think I’ll find the journey worth it. I’ll order the first 2 books from Amazon and we’ll take it from there.

        Well, the ending is fairly ambiguous: it’s not 100% happily ever after but more like it “hints in that direction”. However, though I didn’t exactly like it, it was strictly in line with the philosophical direction the manhwa had taken. The storyline had been kinda ambiguous all along so it’s left to the reader to think and decide, from start to end.

        >>>>And yes, I think that the fact that many anime characters look quite young to Western eyes is part of the problem manga fans here in the U.S. face. Read through that article I linked to yesterday (now below this comment — hmmm… not sure what I think of the new WordPress Inline Reply feature…). In that article you can read how misunderstandings on the part of Handley’s Pre-Trial Officer about anime and manga have caused him all kinds of trouble — and this is all while he is “presumed innocent”!

        Yep… I just read it. So this means that though by law, they’re supposed to assume he’s innocent, they’re unable to put away their opinions and pre-conceptions. It’s troubling, actually, since these days the system doesn’t mean accommodating and listening to everyone’s opinions and stands but instead, shoving one’s ideals on others. One can only guess what’s going to happen next.

        And I think everyone embraced globalisation a bit too early so the legal and other aspects of many countries and systems haven’t caught up yet, so there’s a lack of understanding of certain concepts from other countries, and so there’ve been few to no attempts to frame legislation suitable for all these instances.

        Though of course that’s just “idealistic thinking” from me since many countries lack even lack decent laws regarding topics like the internet and related issues like “cybercrime”, “identity theft”, etc. and law usually doesn’t work like that. More like creating a set of laws after the jury/judges/etc. have to handle a case where there is no framework, etc. to work with, so they design a path for future legal forces to follow and apply.

        Oh and I recall reading up on opinions from the other side: authorities/groups like crime prevention, anti-child pornography, etc. I guess they want to do all they can to prevent crime against children.

        However, I suspect that these days, it’s easier for everyone to ban something and pretend it doesn’t exist, than to talk about it and to get away with little to no research on the topic. Plus, I’m not very 100% sure it’d mean someone’s going to start preying on children after reading some book about it. Rather, I suspect child predators will use some medium just ‘cos they found it and liked it. Most criminals like to say that something influenced them ‘cos it’s easier to manipulate others into understanding them, to find an excuse than to admit that they are responsible for the crime. And the public buys into it ‘cos it’s easier to pretend they can understand an issue, than to truly think about all the facets regarding it.

        >>>> Considering that showing pubic hair in manga has been restricted under Article 175 of Japan’s Penal Code it can be quite easy to perceive even fully adult characters as very underage. That article is the most sobering and scary thing I’ve read on this subject so far. I have sympathy for Handley if he feels he just can’t go on, but I really hope that he does not decide to enter a guilty plea — this crazy interpretation of the law needs to be challenged.

        I know about this law but it’s hard to figure that one out. Why would they restrict showing of pubic hair? Is "pubic hair" considered obscene or even disgusting?

        There’s a rather interesting article about child pornography in manga, btw:
        http://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/356

        Man, well… and Daryl Surat’s reply in that ComiPress article is kinda disturbing. Are they really the same people, I wonder? If so, Handley’s screwed.

  13. Dee -

    On 5/12/09, ComiPress released a great essay about these issues (I've updated my post above with the link) and in it, it states that it looks like Handley is going to enter a guilty plea in the hopes of ending the nightmare the government is putting him through. So, there's an update of what seems to be going on.

    And, unfortunately, with this "success" I imagine the government will be emboldened to do this all over again. :-(

  14. Dee says:

    Oops and no, the end of Let Dai isn't that much of a tear-jerk. *smacks head* That's what I get for not proofreading my comments. :P

  15. @Dee

    (I decided to axe the inline replies — too confusing, I think.)

    I think you make very good points in your comments. Yes, I believe the display of pubic hair (just like an unobscured penis) is considered obscene in the eyes of Japanese law (or, at least used to be, it seems like there might be some change in that area but can't find the link where I read that now…) and thus the reason for the prohibition.

    And as for "Daryl Surat's" reply — it was an ad hominem attack on the author, not anything to do with Handley, so I don't think it will matter to his case one way or the other. Whether or not the author of that essay has a horse in this race isn't really germane to whether his arguments and legal reasoning are compelling, which I do think they are. Ad hominem attacks are red herrings intended to distract us from the issue at hand, which is whether we want our government to be prosecuting and punishing a citizen's thoughts — where the mere viewing of cartoon images can get you government harassment and a jail sentence.

    As I said in the original post, we may find the cartoon images in question and even those who purchase/create them to be personally disgusting — but that's irrelevant to the argument. Be it thought-crimes or torture, the likability of its victims doesn't matter — our government simply has no business doing this to its citizens. It's foolish, hysterical and wrong.

  16. Dee says:

    And ack for lack of proofreading: "But you’re obviously right that just because you dislike/don’t want to be associated with someone, doesn’t mean you should reject everything he says". It's too bad I can't edit my post.

  17. Dee says:

    @Alex:
    >>>>(I decided to axe the inline replies — too confusing, I think.)

    (Yes, the inline thing was also starting to annoy me because all the posts were scattered, thus leading to general confusion.)

    >>>>I think you make very good points in your comments. Yes, I believe the display of pubic hair (just like an unobscured penis) is considered obscene in the eyes of Japanese law (or, at least used to be, it seems like there might be some change in that area but can’t find the link where I read that now…) and thus the reason for the prohibition.

    Thank you. Considered obscene, eh? I guess laws in all countries have their quirks or things relevant in their time, but which now need updating. Then again, I’m not entirely aware of what exactly the law says or even means. Or even its context.

    >>>>And as for “Daryl Surat’s” reply — it was an ad hominem attack on the author, not anything to do with Handley, so I don’t think it will matter to his case one way or the other.

    Thanks for the explanation about ad hominem, it’s one of those darned terms I can never remember. Hmmm… I don’t know. You’re right that it might have well been an attack by Daryl. Yet, I think ComiPress could’ve shown better judgement in their selection of authors since stirring up more controversy won’t help Handley at all. Then again, I’m not so sure since the author has replied, yet… sorry, I do have big problems about child predators and it’s best that I abstain from saying anymore while I cool down. :P (Comment continued below)

    >>>>Whether or not the author of that essay has a horse in this race isn’t really germane to whether his arguments and legal reasoning are compelling, which I do think they are. Ad hominem attacks are red herrings intended to distract us from the issue at hand, which is whether we want our government to be prosecuting and punishing a citizen’s thoughts — where the mere viewing of cartoon images can get you government harassment and a jail sentence.

    (Comment continued from above) You may be quite right. I’ve been questioning my own train of thoughts, which I found disturbing. If I’m willing to listen and read about a terrorist’s comments about their thoughts and actions and criticism of other people/countries/etc., then why am I unwilling to listen to someone who may or not even have been guilty of “said crimes against children”. I guess it’s time for some introspection.

    Also, you bring up some interesting thoughts about “punishment of thoughts”. Hmm… in my country, I think they do punish people for thoughts, really. Little I can do about that, though… since it’s another whole issue. But to get back to the topic, I don’t think it’s right to arrest someone just for thinking about it. Just because someone writes and comments about murder, doesn’t mean he’s going on some stabbing spree. There’s too much assumption and generalisations there.

    >>>>As I said in the original post, we may find the cartoon images in question and even those who purchase/create them to be personally disgusting — but that’s irrelevant to the argument. Be it thought-crimes or torture, the likability of its victims doesn’t matter — our government simply has no business doing this to its citizens. It’s foolish, hysterical and wrong.

    Hmm… interesting. Sorry, my country isn’t as open as yours so some of this is fairly new to me. I’ll slowly think about this issue. And again, I’ll have to consider all the whys and hows, involved. But you’re obviously right that just because you dislike/don’t want to be associated with someone, doesn’t mean you should reject everything he says. [EDIT: TRUNCATED TEXT FIXED BY ALEX]

    Hmm… oh yah, I was discussing manga with a friend(who doesn’t read manga) and he was saying that the East tends to be obsessed with youth which in turn has an impact on stories, meaning a huge emphasis on teen and pre-teen protagonists. And then he said something like “Too much emphasis used to be on the ancestors” and that it was a “pendulum swing” and “From looking totally to the past, the cultural emphasis has swung around to looking to the future”.

    And now that I think about it, this was maybe a kneejerk reaction: a rejection of much or all that stands for tradition(probably middle-aged to older people) and an embrace of all that stands for new(children, young people). Of course, time passes… and this has become a tradition/standard as well. And has perhaps affected manga too… since there’s even sexual stuff containing images of “children”.

    Erm, btw: I’m no American nor do I live in the US(I’m from South-east Asia) but I believe this case could have lasting repercussions, not just for America but many other countries. Hence, my interest.

    This is because changes/additions to the laws/acts/etc. in 1 country can be mirrored in others. Or in this case, even have an effect on regional trade and creation of manga/anime. Because once you use the term “child porn”, I can bet that people will start scaremongering and screaming about the “corruption of our youth/children”. And the politicians will often follow suit with certain motives and intentions.

    And now some more random comments:

    That same friend aka EK (mentioned earlier), btw, also said that “I think the US has trouble realising there’s all different types of Manga, honestly. Because to most Americans, Comics = Superheroes. Because they are used to thinking of comics as a genre rather than a medium, they look at Manga the same way.” And someone else who was reading the discussion also said: “I think that’s changing with manga somewhat… And with stuff like Sin City and 300.” And again, EK later said: “And the idea that a comic might not be aimed at kids is still very new to a lot of Americans.”

    LOL… I apologise if this post is getting out of hand since I like to bring in outside perspectives at times into discussions. And, does WordPress support the quote thingy? I can’t recall! >_<;;

  18. @Dee

    I’m not entirely aware of what exactly the law says or even means. Or even its context.

    I found this very thorough essay: Obscenity and Article 175 of the Japanese Penal Code: A Short Introduction to Japanese Censorship. It can be a little dry, but it's very thorough and the subject matter is fascinating. (WARNING: Some NSFW pics used as examples.)

    in my country, I think they do punish people for thoughts, really.

    Now I'm curious. :-) You say you live in South-East Asia – where exactly are you from? And what thought-crimes do people get punished for?

    he said something like “Too much emphasis used to be on the ancestors” and that it was a “pendulum swing” and “From looking totally to the past, the cultural emphasis has swung around to looking to the future”.

    I haven't heard this argument before. It's an interesting take on the focus on schoolgirls in erotica, etc.

    I believe this case could have lasting repercussions, not just for America but many other countries. Hence, my interest.

    I think that's true. While I believe people in the U.S. can be a bit arrogant and presumptuous about our place in the world, our laws and decisions do have an effect on other countries, especially in the areas of sexual morality and censorship. And not just by example — our government is quite willing to bring political pressure against countries that it feels are acting improperly in regards to sexual behavior and this is especially true when minors are involved. I believe I've read in a few places that Japan's recent crack-downs on obscenity in manga have been motivated in part due to outside perceptions by countries like the U.S. that Japan creates "child-porn comics". (Although I've also read that it's a purely internal movement, too.)

    Ultimately, it's in everyone's interest that good law be made here in the U.S. for these issues.

    I think the US has trouble realising there’s all different types of Manga, honestly. Because to most Americans, Comics = Superheroes.

    I think this is true as well. This has definitely been changing over the last decade or so, but it will be quite some time until comics are considered as valid a form of visual storytelling for adults as, say, film is now.

    does WordPress support the quote thingy?

    Sure it does. Use the blockquote tag.

    It’s too bad I can’t edit my post.

    Well, I've gone ahead and fixed your original comment. :-) There is a plugin I like called AJAX Edit Comments that I've disabled because it hasn't played well with my caching plugin (which readers have told me is more important – that the pages load quickly.) There's been a few updates — I'll try activating it again, but if it slows down my site, I'll have to remove it…

    I apologise if this post is getting out of hand since I like to bring in outside perspectives at times into discussions

    No need to apologize. I'm glad that the subject matter and my post has inspired such passion and thoughtfulness. That's ultimately the greatest compliment you can give a writer. :-)

  19. Dee says:

    As promised in the previous post!

    Actually, let me revise my statements: those who're cracking down on people like Handley are missing the real issue at heart or they just don’t want to touch the “hot topics”. This is after re-reading all those articles about child sex abuse and comments by law enforcement who get frustrated by senate and facets of governments or even “do-gooders” who’ve not an idea about what “child sex abuse” is exactly and start championing about “child rights” when what they’re doing creates a haven for pedophiles or takes away funding and important attention away from the real issues instead.

    The real "child predators" include the fathers/mothers who're raping their 1 year old son/daughter and who bring in defense attorneys to talk about keeping the family together. They’re ordinary people with a family and not some "deviant" as portrayed in Hollywood and all those fiction and non-fiction. Often, they just don't care whether it's a kid or not, as long as they can have sex and satisfy their own curiosities and desires.

    They're the ones who will film the act of raping a kid and who sell the dvd for money or “credits”, or even use the film as a bargaining tool for exchanging kids with other pedophiles. These people are unlikely to be satisfied with or even bother with fictional(no real humans of any age, months or years, involved) child and adult/child on child sex and would go for the former if presented with two choices: real or fantasy sex.

    To all those who don't get it: look, it's the line that separates the sick, cruel bastards from the rational, normal humans. Rational, normal humans imagine and write/draw/etc. about it(“It” can be anything: rape, murder, experimentation on animals/humans, etc. ). They won’t do anything beyond fantasy because they’ve got checks and limits like empathy, bonds, guilt, love, fear, respect for life and others’ values and emotions, etc. that stop them from doing so. They may also “pretend” to do it during sex or something else like on film as a prank or silly act but they won’t go out and try the real thing. They know someone will be hurt if they step over that line. It can be sick/frightening stuff they/their minds will produce but that’s not the right people the law should be looking at because the law should be looking at “protecting people”, not “diverting attention from the real issue”. Btw, all these “checks and limits” represent the line or what you could call “the boundary”.

    The sick, cruel bastards imagine and put their thoughts into action instead on real humans. What line? What feelings? They don’t care about all those things! They may write fiction about committing these deeds but they won’t stop at it. It’s what separates the likes of Marquis de Sade or even that nice teacher who’s preying on her pupils from humans who maybe fantasise about being cruel but stop short when you ask them to bash someone’s skull open or to do “a certain sexual act” to a crying, screaming kid. I say “humans” ‘cos those people like pedophiles, Marquis de Sade, etc. are monsters and have already gone past the limit and turned into some sick screwed-up bastard.

    For those interested, Andrew Vachss makes some very valid points about child sex abuse and how child predators are often created, in his article: “Preying on Predators, Not Praying for Their Forgiveness”
    http://www.vachss.com/av_interviews/razorcake.htm

    My statements may be strong but I think such discussions need way more realistic research and facts, if people really want to understand the “whys” behind an issue and not just jump at the “effects”. And everytime the law spends time hounding after issues like Handley case, there’re at least 2 to 3 kids who’re whored out by their parents/caretakers to others while no one gives a damn ‘cos it’s too disgusting for them to even bother finding more about and also ‘cos talking about it will scandalise their careers. "We want to be pure and perfect, you see." "But at the expense of what and whom?"

  20. Dee says:

    Crap… it should be "protecting people like real victims", not "protecting people"(which is too vague). =P

  21. Dee says:

    I found this very thorough essay: Obscenity and Article 175 of the Japanese Penal Code: A Short Introduction to Japanese Censorship. It can be a little dry, but it’s very thorough and the subject matter is fascinating. (WARNING: Some NSFW pics used as examples.)

    Right… I skimmed through the article. Interesting… but it only reinforces my thoughts that laws can get defunct over time and how outdated interpretations can literally affect a medium for it is law and who wants to run afoul of it? As for “vague” definitions, they’re of course vague! At that time, they didn’t have to deal with things like certain types of literature and other topics.

    Now I’m curious. You say you live in South-East Asia – where exactly are you from? And what thought-crimes do people get punished for?

    Yikes… I am so not giving myself away. :P Explanation: It’s more like there’s a set of invisible boundaries defining which topics we can discuss and which topics we can’t. Most of the topics like food, comics, plays, etc. are safe. Some topics like homosexuality, certain political issues and other topics aren’t. However, the challenge is that the boundaries tend to shift and change over time, which is why they’re invisible. So, if you accidentally slip up and discuss said topic and are caught doing so, that’s it and you’re in for a punishment of some sort. You don’t have to be caught in the act of “doing” what you’re speaking about; just saying is equivalent to action. Just thinking about it is equivalent to getting punished for it.

    These invisible boundaries serve as self-censorship for you’re forced to hold your tongue unless you want to land into hot soup. It hasn’t stopped majority of the population, though, from going online and bashing anything the government does(whether right or wrong). But on the other hand, it’s very sad when even teachers and families practise self-censorship for fear of punishment.

    I haven’t heard this argument before. It’s an interesting take on the focus on schoolgirls in erotica, etc.

    To clarify, we weren’t talking about erotica but rather, about manga or society in general. It started with me saying “just cos people think it’s not socially acceptable for people who look too young to be discussing about sex or anything else.”, stiffling of comics, etc. Then he was saying “date girls” and “Japanese society is obsessed with the sexualisation of underage people.” and “The Japanese practise of paying schoolgirls to ‘date’ older men.” and “They usually dress younger.” That was followed by the comments I posted previously, about the pendulum swing and so on.

    The comment about such a thought/perception affecting various mediums, comes from me. If a certain thought system becomes popular, why won’t it affect society in general and even how we see ourselves? And if a certain medium is also exported/introduced into other countries, then some of its’ perceptions/views will have an effect on many who’re constantly exposed to that medium.

    Ahh yes… I’ve also read comments from certain law enforcement officers who deal with child sex abuse about how they fear that exposure to such materials/concepts like “sexualisation of minors” in various mediums like comics, television, etc. can be equivalent to sexual grooming.

    And yes… it could be sexual grooming but on the other hand, the parents should be the ones monitoring their children and teaching their children the skills for surviving on the net/other media/etc. and how to deal with such materials. I mean: sure, you can try to protect children by introducing permissible limits on a message board or site but that doesn’t mean anything when they enter the “wild, wild West”.

    I think that’s true. While I believe people in the U.S. can be a bit arrogant and presumptuous about our place in the world, our laws and decisions do have an effect on other countries, especially in the areas of sexual morality and censorship. And not just by example — our government is quite willing to bring political pressure against countries that it feels are acting improperly in regards to sexual behavior and this is especially true when minors are involved. I believe I’ve read in a few places that Japan’s recent crack-downs on obscenity in manga have been motivated in part due to outside perceptions by countries like the U.S. that Japan creates “child-porn comics”. (Although I’ve also read that it’s a purely internal movement, too.)
    Ultimately, it’s in everyone’s interest that good law be made here in the U.S. for these issues.

    Ahh well, “we’re superior than countries which don’t practise full democracy” and “anyone who doesn’t abide by our values system regarding religion, literature, racial/ethnic/gender/etc. stereotype etc. is lesser than us even if we still have less rights/respect for certain people than some countries do” is my opinion of US. I’m not anti-American, just anti-dumb government and people, btw.

    Well originally, my comments were actually about how politicians like to randomly implement laws and concepts from other countries, with little thought or understanding for “whys” behind them while writing up massive comments and essays to convince themselves that they’re right for being idiots. This tends to translate either into pure idiocy(inconvenience the masses) or hurt random people.

    I think this is true as well. This has definitely been changing over the last decade or so, but it will be quite some time until comics are considered as valid a form of visual storytelling for adults as, say, film is now.

    That’s true… developments always take time and same for acceptance and education, too.

    Sure it does. Use the blockquote tag.

    Right, thanks.

    Well, I’ve gone ahead and fixed your original comment. There is a plugin I like called AJAX Edit Comments that I’ve disabled because it hasn’t played well with my caching plugin (which readers have told me is more important – that the pages load quickly.) There’s been a few updates — I’ll try activating it again, but if it slows down my site, I’ll have to remove it…

    Naw, you don’t have to go all the way if it’s at expense at others.

    No need to apologize. I’m glad that the subject matter and my post has inspired such passion and thoughtfulness. That’s ultimately the greatest compliment you can give a writer.

    That’s ‘cos it’s an interesting topic! :D

    I actually have harsher comments about the Handley topic but that’s for the following post. MS Word currently lists this as page 5 out of 7. Besides, it’s meant more in response to some of those crazier comments I’ve read about this case.

  22. Bunny says:

    Wait, so he was getting imported lolicon and shotacon comics?

  23. tyciol says:

    These events are tragic. This man shouldn't serve a sentence for reading a book.

  24. ai.therapy says:

    Still, what if they start going after the manga with a highschool setting? What if they start going after characters dressed in lolita clothing, saying that they appear to be minors?

    It's not in every manga that a age is determined, and in some high school manga's, a character turns 18 within the story. The inspectors aren't going to read through the whole story to find out that they later turn 18.

    It's ridiculous to treat a manga book, fictional and purely not with real people, as you would a pornographic tape that was recorded.

    I don't want to be arrested for supporting my favorite authors and artists overseas. I don't want rash speculation about the contents of my manga, I don't even read shotacon or lolicon! We shouldn't have to look at the cover of our manga before ordering it and wonder if it will look suspicious to authorities.

    (Yes, I am donating by the way, Alex. :P)

  25. @ai.therapy

    Well put. And it's particularly frustrating when there is a double-standard for films where high school romance and drama seems to get away with a lot more…

    Good for you for donating to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund! You're making things safer and fairer for everyone! :-D

  26. Amaya says:

    This totally shocked me. I mean, going to jail for manga, even if it's lolicon or shotacon?! Ironically enough, I'd just been wondering a lot about whether or not you could get arrested for reading yaoi under 18, (if it actually counts as porn or not), since I'm DEFINATELY not the only underage yaoi fan I know, and I've talked to even more underage fans online. So it got me thinking, and I was wondering your opinion on underage yaoi fangirls is, since I started reading at around age 11, and from polls and such, most start reading between 10 and 20. It might seem creepy, or screwed up, but I want someone else's opinion and this seemed like the best place to ask.

  27. @Amaya

    Howdy and thank you for commenting. I'll do my best to answer your question, but just to be clear, I'm not a lawyer (I don't even play one on TV) or a child psychologist, so my thoughts are based on my own research and opinions on these matters. If you're concerned about being arrested for anything, you should actually reach out to a real lawyer and not just take my word for it.

    Could some yaoi be considered "porn"? Certainly. As the Handley case shows, sexually-oriented material in comics can be legally considered "obscene" and "appealing to prurient interest" and that's really what matters in terms of something "counting as porn".

    That said, my understanding is that there isn't much risk of being arrested if you are a person under 18 who gets their hands on adult material (so long as it's not actual child porn — if actual children are involved in any sexually explicit material you have, you can get into huge trouble. Just look what's happening with teenagers getting arrested for sending nude pics of themselves to their friends aka "sexting". There you have child porn laws — meant to protect children, mind you! — actually being used to hurt kids. Idiotic and evil, IMHO — but I digress…)

    The real risk is if an ADULT provides someone underage with that material. There are laws on the books of most (all?) states here in the U.S. that makes providing sexually explicit materials to a minor a crime. This is why events like YaoiCon are 18-and-over and why I market my books to adults. (Now, for something that I know isn't going to get sexually explicit like Tough, it's tempting to label that 16-and-over — but even there, I hesitate. There are no hard and fast rules for what is acceptable content for minors and frankly, it's just safer to say that everything is 18-and-over. And to be extra safe, I'll make the truly sexually explicit stuff "for-pay" because you need to be over 18 to get a credit card — legally, that barrier is supposed to offer me some protection.)

    My opinion is that it is perfectly normal for young people to be interested in romance and sex. Most kids post-puberty are. I personally don't think it's "creepy or screwed up". I would hope that there are responsible adults in those "underage fangirls" lives — like their parents — who they could turn to for guidance and support in discussing those feelings and interests. I know that's not always the case, but I will say, oftentimes parents can be more understanding about such things than we expect, particularly when questions are asked in a calm and straight-forward manner. I would hope in your case that there is such a person — be it a parent or family friend or guidance counselor.

    My opinion on underage fangirls? Well, I love all fans of our work — and have nothing but warmth in my heart for them — but for my own protection as a publisher, Yaoi 911 comics are meant for adults. Even though most of the content is fairly tame, if you are under 18, I'd ask that you wait before reading our comics. It's the safest — for me. (And there are plenty of yaoi fans over 18 so I have no need to market to young people.) That's the official Yaoi 911 opinion — no winks, no nudges.

    But on a personal level, I'm glad you're out there asking questions. I would hope that you in no way feel that you're "creepy and screwed up" for your interests. There are yaoi publishers out there who specifically court younger readers (like June and netcomics.com who have a number of 16+ books) — they might be worth checking out. And I hope you feel I've answered your questions fairly and helpfully.

    Take care of yourself :-)

    Alex

  28. Amaya says:

    @Alex Woolfson -

    Thanks for reading my confusing question! (I admit, it was a bit hard to dicipher, even to me.) You're probably right in saying that one should wait for a few years (and maybe I'll just stick to shounan-ai for a while). But even if you say so to me, there are still loads of underage kids out there reading yaoi or smut. So I'll try to speak to those I know, but changing one's mind, or lifestyle in many cases isn't exactly easy.

    ————————-

    I would hope that there are responsible adults in those “underage fangirls” lives — like their parents — who they could turn to for guidance and support in discussing those feelings and interests.

    ————————–

    I know I personally have a few friends to talk to, and there are online boardss for other fans, but from chatting with some of them, I can tell that a lot of them don't even have a friend to talk to, and most of them don't tell their parents, for fear of discrimination against them.

    Either way, thanks for responding, and keep up the good work as a bold yaoi writer!

  29. @Amaya

    Welcome back. :-)

    You’re probably right in saying that one should wait for a few years (and maybe I’ll just stick to shounan-ai for a while). But even if you say so to me, there are still loads of underage kids out there reading yaoi or smut. So I’ll try to speak to those I know, but changing one’s mind, or lifestyle in many cases isn’t exactly easy.

    While my comics are intended for adult readers, the truth is, I really don't have any "shoulds" I'm looking to put out to young people who are interested in yaoi — except that they should listen to their own hearts and judgments (guided by the advice of responsible adults) about what they are comfortable with and shouldn't feel pressured to read stuff they aren't comfortable with. Some people under 18 are going to be comfortable and ready to explore harder stuff, some will be much happier just sticking to the fluffier stuff. I won't break any laws, but other than encouraging tolerance and acceptance for those we find different, I don't have much interest in "changing people's minds", young person or adult — I'd rather be about building self-esteem and helping people feel comfortable about who they are. :-)

    In your case, if shonen-ai is what feels most comfortable and interesting to you, I'd say there's a lot of great work out there that falls in that category (and that IMHO the writing of those works tends to be superior to the harder works that can get by on "good looks" as it were.)

    I know I personally have a few friends to talk to, and there are online boardss for other fans, but from chatting with some of them, I can tell that a lot of them don’t even have a friend to talk to, and most of them don’t tell their parents, for fear of discrimination against them.

    I think the isolation you describe is quite common and it saddens me. In my case, it was the school guidance counselor I felt most comfortable confiding in. My parents turned out to be much more accepting than I thought they would be when I eventually came out to them, but sometimes it can feel safer to reach out to another adult. Personally, I like the "school guidance counselor" option because those professionals have very specific rules they have to follow that help protect kids from exploitation and, due to the nature of their jobs, often have people looking over their shoulders to make sure they follow those rules. If you're chatting with someone who is feeling isolated, I'd encourage you to recommend people at their school as an option. Also, if they are wrestling with their own feelings of sexual identity, there's a national Hotline, The Trevor Project, that I hear good things about:

    The Trevor Project
    (866) 488-7386

    (They also have a page for Asking Questions and a page for finding local resources like Gay Youth Groups etc.)

    Also, I hadn't heard about the site Amplify Youth Resource before I did a Google Search, but after a quick look-through, they seem to be saying the right things and are not as focused on crisis-prevention as The Trevor Project. They have a listing of Hotlines as well as young gay "Peer Educators" kids can ask questions to. Definitely worth a look.

    Now, this is probably a lot more information than what you were looking for, but I thought I'd include it here, just in case other young people find their way to this site — perhaps someone will find it helpful. :-D

    Anyway, thank you very much for the compliments. I'm glad to hear you have friends to talk to. And I hope you're having a great week!

    Alex

  30. tyciol says:

    It is very saddening how this case went =( I hope at least the response to it has raised awareness so next time it happens (as it seems rather inevitable) the victim of our system will know where to turn for help. People who feel let down that this was not fought I think may be in stronger support.

    It's my hope that the CBLDF will establish guidelines on how to deal with this and fight it. These obscenity laws are ridiculous. Gaiman save us.

  31. Gamergirl202 says:

    Woooowww. People don’t get in trouble for watching porn! This is ridiculous!!!!!

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