08.Jun.2007 Comics Seized by Canada Customs
Toronto gay weekly Xtra has the breaking news about a seizure of comics by Canada Customs. The comics, all translated queer comics from French publisher H&O Comics, were destined for Priape, a Montreal book shop.
The seized titles are Dads & Boys vol. 1 & 2 , Justin vol 1 & 2 (both by English artist Josman), and the manga Arena and Gunji by Gengoroh Tagame. The Josman books contain depictions of incest and seem to be the focus of the seizure.
Tagame, at least, has been banned in Canada before. Here is a site with links to the CANADA BORDER SERVICES AGENCY’s lists of banned books in Canada. The lists are somewhat secretive, but are updated quarterly and are available via email request: firstname.lastname@example.org.
H&O is a small publisher and will not be disputing the seizure. Ditto Priape owner Bernard Rousseau, who claims in the Xtra article to have been unaware of the exact contents of the books when he ordered them for his store.
The seizure, which took place earlier this Spring, is the first major event of its kind that has been reported this year and the first since the Supreme Court denied Little Sister’s appeal for funding to pursue is suit against the Canadian Border Services Agency in January. The seizure is another example of the disconnect between the actions of the CBSA and other Canadian agencies, and it’s targetting of material directed at a gay and lesbian audience.
Little Sister’s Jim Diva is quoted in the Xtra article:
There is another reason Rousseau says he didn’t protest the seizure. “We didn’t protest because it was mostly about younger boys and incest,” he says. “We have protested before, but we decided that after looking into the matter it is too much.”
“They were determined to be obscene,” says CBSA spokesperson Chris Williams. “The indicators ranged from depictions of incest to sex with pain and sexual mutilation, defecation and vomiting.”
While Xtra has so far been unable to examine all the seized material, the Justin books are available on-line in English at the artist’s website.
“Does that mean that only certain people who are Internet savvy can access pornography?” asks Jim Deva, co-owner of Vancouver’s Little Sister’s Bookstore. “That it’s available on-line raises the question of how are we protecting Canadians from it.”
The on-line versions of the Justin books tell the story of a gay man who is reunited with his 18-year-old son, Justin, after several years. Justin moves in with his father and soon confesses his sexual attraction to him. In the two books, the two are depicted having oral and anal sex and, in one scene, Justin’s father urinates on him.
Priape purchaser Denis Leblanc says he didn’t know the storylines of the books when the store ordered them.
“I knew it wasn’t a church book. I knew it was erotic stories and that it was comics, but I didn’t know specifically what it was about,” says Leblanc.
Tourtois maintains that as adult fantasy comics, obscenity is H&O’s raison d’etre, and that they are not harmful and no actors are harmed or exploited in their production. He also says that no other country has stopped shipment of the books.