Changing of the Guard at CBLDF

by  in Comic News Comment
Changing of the Guard at CBLDF

Official Press Release

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund elected new officers at its Board of
Directors meeting at July’s Comic-Con International. Founder Denis
Kitchen retired from the Board, and will be replaced as President by Chris
Staros, publisher of Top Shelf Productions. Milton Griepp was elected as
the organization’s new Treasurer, succeeding Frank Mangiaracina. Peter
David, John Davis, Neil Gaiman, Frank Mangiaracina, Greg Ketter, and Louise
Nemschoff were also re-elected to serve another term on the Board of

Kitchen’s retirement from the Board marks the end of an era for the Fund,
which he founded 18 years ago. “The challenges facing comics are
different from when I founded the Fund,” Kitchen said. “In the eighties,
comics were still fighting for respectability and it was perhaps easier for
them to be stigmatized as kid stuff. Two decades later, comics have
attained a certain respectability, but are facing new sets of challenges. I
think it’s fitting that the generation directly facing these challenges, led by
Chris Staros, a publisher after my own heart, should be the ones standing
up to them.”

Chris Staros recalls, “Back in ’97 I wrote Denis Kitchen to tell him that ‘one
day, when I’ve earned my place in comics, I’d love to serve on the CBLDF
Board of Directors,’ as I’ve always believed in the absolute importance of its
mission. For two years I’ve had the pleasure of serving on the Board under
Denis, and have witnessed first hand what an amazing asset he’s been in
defending the First Amendment rights of our industry. It’ll be tough to fill
the shoes of the founder of the Fund, but I’m honored to take over as
President, and look forward to working with the entire community in this

Milton Griepp’s election as Treasurer was received as good news by
Kitchen who said, “I’m delighted that Milton is the organization’s new
Treasurer. He brings a particular corporate expertise and extensive
experience in non-profit fiscal management that I’m certain will help the
Fund grow even stronger in the future.”

Kitchen adds, “I look forward to continuing my support of the Fund from
the other side of the table. I feel that I’m leaving the organization in good
hands, with an active Board under the leadership of Chris and Milton, and
a strong office under the management of Charles Brownstein. I’m
confident that the Fund can only become stronger as it confronts the
challenges on the horizon.”


A Personal Message from Chris Staros:

Hello, everyone. Thank you so much for the warm reception. I’ve received
dozens of heart-felt and congratulatory emails since the above
announcement was released by the CBLDF. It’s nice to be in such a
supportive community, and I look forward to working with all of you in the
coming months.

You know, comics is the last truly free artistic medium. Yet the fact that
it’s relatively small makes it extremely vulnerable to politicians and
prosecutors trying to make names for themselves on the often-overzealous
moral ground of “protecting the children.” It is here that First Amendment
battle lines are drawn and precedent setting cases are determined, and
that’s why it’s critical that all of us — publishers, distributors, retailers,
creators, and fans alike — support the CBLDF in any way that we can.

It may surprise you to learn that there are currently only 1,300 members of
the CBLDF. In an industry of over 3,000 retailers and at least 5,000
professionals — the most likely to be defended by the Fund — as well as
over 250,000 fans, there are only 1,300 people who feel strong enough to
become “card carrying” members of the CBLDF.

We’re fortunate enough to live in a stable country, which gives us
the “luxury” of becoming complacent about political matters. But in a post
9/11 environment, when the battle for our civil liberties is being fought at
all levels, this is not the time to sit on the sidelines.

I’ve personally witnessed — as Top Shelf — what this community is capable
of when it rallies behind a cause. And the CBLDF is a cause worth rallying
for. In his acceptance speech for the CBLDF’s Defender of Liberty Award at
this year’s Eisner ceremony, Jim Lee eloquently stated “You certainly don’t
need the likes of me to tell you what dangers we face as an industry and

as a community: dangers from overzealous local prosecutors looking for
easy, under-funded targets for political gain; dangers from a federal
government using an environment of fear and uncertainty to weaken our
civil rights. … We live in a scary time — a time when the power of the First
Amendment is truly being tested and it is my honor to be able to help in
any way possible. But we need your involvement as well. Every professional,
every retailer, every fan here should be a member of the CBLDF.”

And in Chuck Rozanski’s Defender of Liberty acceptance speech from the
previous year he impassionedly expressed, “One of the things that’s come
up lately is the concept that patriotism involves repression. I think that in
this country — my adopted country — that patriotism, true patriotism,
involves defending the rights that the people who came before us fought
and died to achieve. … we owe it to the next generation to not leave them
a world which has greater repression and less freedom than the world we
were given. So I ask you all to support the CBLDF in any way that you can.”

When pillars of the community voice articulate and emotional pleas like
this, there is no excuse not to take action.

Get involved in something worth fighting for.
Please commit to a one-year membership today (starting @ $25):

With one click you can join the fund:




(ALL membership proceeds to the CBLDF)

Your friend thru comics,

Chris Staros

President, CBLDF Board of Directors

Publisher, Top Shelf Productions

PO Box 1282

Marietta, GA 30061-1282

Changing of the Guard at CBLDF