Image Comics has announced a limited run of variant covers in support of free-speech advocacy group The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF).
Tim Seeley, the man behind HACK/SLASH, and Image publisher Eric Stephenson have joined forces and rounded up a selection of both censored and uncensored covers for titles including The Last Siege, Bully Wars, Curse Words, Unnatural and many more.
"Comics have been uniquely affected by censorship since the very beginning," Seeley said in a statement. "I wanted to do something with my fellow Image creators to call attention to the problem, and to raise money for CBLDF to help their efforts to fight back. They own the Comics Code Seal of Approval, the censorship stamp that used to govern almost all comics until that organization died in 2011. We thought we'd bring back the Code for one month, to show how ham-fisted those censorship attempts were while having some fun making money for the CBLDF's important work."
Image Comics looks to be a natural bedfellow for the CBLDF, as the imprint has had its share of cover controversy and censorship. One of its latest examples came in 2017 when an issue of Howard Chaykin's The Divided States of America featured a graphic lynching scene as its cover art. After receiving backlash, Image opted to pull the book and issue a statement that both apologized for the artistic choice, while also reminding readers of their commitment to freedom of expression. Another Image controversy occurred in 2013, when an issue in the popular series Saga was pulled from several digital platforms for featuring sexual scenes some distributors found objectionable. The latter episode prompted Saga creator Brian K. Vaughan to encourage readers to "...support the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, which helps protect retailers who are brave enough to carry work that some in their communities might consider offensive."
The CBLDF has been working on behalf of challenged or banned comic works since 1986 when a young comic shop manager in Illinois was arrested and charged with displaying obscene materials. The shop's owner, Frank Mangiaracina, sought help from comic artists and publishers to raise funds for his employee's defense, and from that incident, the CBLDF was born. Over the years it has received vocal support from the likes of Vaughan, Neil Gaiman, Frank Miller and countless others within the comic industry and across a wide range of artistic disciplines.
Check out the gallery of cover art below:
[vn_gallery name="Image Anti-Censorship Variants" id="1388762"]
The variant covers can be ordered from the CBLDF website until August 13th and will be available on September 5th.