The Comic Legends Legal Defense Fund was formed in 1987 by Derek McCulloch and Paul Stockton to raise money for the defense of Comic Legends, a Calgary comic shop whose owners were charged with possession of obscene material for distribution and corrupting morals by circulating obscene material. Police raided the store after a parent phoned to complain that her 14 year old son was able to purchase a copy of Aircel’s Warlock 5. While Warlock 5 wasn’t seized by the police, they did take copies of Bizarre Sex #5, People’s Comics, Zap #1, and Weirdo #s 4, 5, and 15.
Thanks to the financial and creative support of Canadian and international distributors, retailers, creators and fans, the CLLDF raised enough money to cover the cost of Comic Legends’ initial court case, which ended with the store’s owners declared guilty of possession and intent to sell obscene materials, and a fine of $3000. The CLLDF also paid for a subsequent appeal, which did not overturn the conviction, but did result in a reduction of the fine. In Canada, obscenity is a federal offence; what’s legally declared obscene in one part of the country affects the rest of the country.
Since then, the CLLDF has been maintained to provide financial support for those fighting the suppression of comic book material. There haven’t been many battles for the CLLDF to fight, though we have made several donations to the Little Sisters’ lawsuits against Canada Customs, and paid the expenses of expert witnesses brought in to testify on behalf of Marc Laliberte, a fanzine publisher in Windsor. Laliberte was acquitted on all charges.
But now we need your help again.
Last year, an American citizen entering Canada had his laptop computer searched by Canada Customs, who found scanned manga images that they considered child pornography. The laptop was turned over to police, who reviewed the material, and charged the American with possession of child pornography and importation of same into Canada. “Child pornography” is the new “obscenity,” and we’re helping to fund the American’s defense because whatever happens to him will affect all of us.
If you’re at the Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo (June 17-19, 2011), come by our booth. Talk to us. Make a donation. Buy some merchandise to support the CLLDF. If you’d prefer to send us a donation later, you can mail it to 183 Woodycrest Ave., Toronto, ON, M4J 3C2. We’re also online at www. clldf.ca and on Twitter at twitter.com/clldf. The Comic Legends Legal Defense Fund is available to assist any Canadian comic book retailer, distributor, publisher or creator who find themselves victims of Canada’s unique obscenity laws.