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 Directors.

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 role."

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

Oberon #5

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