The Comic Legends Legal Defense Fund announces that, 22 years after forming as an ad hoc fundraising organization in defense of a Calgary retailer charged with selling obscene materials, it has at last been formally incorporated. CLLDF Board of Directors member Derek McCulloch says, “It’s a long overdue step, and one we hope communicates our intention to grow the Fund as a bulwark in the defense of free speech in Canada.” McCulloch added that while the Fund has been incorporated with bylaws outlining its mission as a nonprofit dedicated to protecting the free speech rights of Canadian comics professionals and fans, its status as a charity is pending. “The paperwork is in at Revenue Canada,” McCulloch said. “We hope to have charitable status before the end of the year.”
The move toward formal incorporation comes in the wake of the CLLDF’s involvement, in partnership with the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, in the defense of an American citizen facing criminal charges in Canada for comics brought into the country on his laptop.
At the same time, the CLLDF announces that it has expanded its Board of Directors from three members to five. Joining founding Directors McCulloch, Leonard Wong, and Paul Stockton are two prominent Canadian retailers: Jay Bardyla of Edmonton, Alberta; and Jennifer Haines of Guelph, Ontario.
Jay Bardyla is the founder of Happy Harbor Comics, the award winning comic shop located in Edmonton, Alberta that works tirelessly to promote the craft of comics to schools and libraries through free presentations and who keeps its doors open to creators of all types to put their books upon their shelves. A 30 year collector, 24 year employee and 12 year owner in the comics industry, Jay believes he has only begun to understand the industry he loves dearly and looks forward to many more decades of learning about the medium, inspiring others to create comics and to protecting the hobby.
Jennifer Haines opened The Dragon in September 1998 in Guelph, Ontario. Since then, it has gone on to become the Echo Reader’s Choice best comic store in the area in 2009 and 2010, as well as an Eisner finalist in 2010 and 2011. Jennifer has an M.A. in Classical Studies, as well as a B.Ed, which has led her to form comicsintheclassroom.ca, a resource for teachers and librarians. Additionally, she works closely with schools and school boards to help them design specific graphic novel curricula. When she’s not in the shop, she works as a teacher, primarily of Latin and Drama.
“I’m very pleased to be a part of such an important organization,” Haines said. “It is vital to protect our freedom of speech by working on cases such as this one. Despite no longer needing the Comics Code to publish and sell comics, it seems comics are still the focus of attack by government agencies as a result of a historic misunderstanding of content. Therefore, we must continue to work to clarify the nature of comics in order to preserve our freedom to produce them, without fear of retribution.”
McCulloch says, “We welcome Jay and Jennifer to the Board and very much appreciate their willingness to give of their time and their expertise in support of this important mission. We look forward to working with them in defense of free speech in the months and years to come.”