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It's Banned Books Week, and there's nothing I hate more than banning books (no, not even the New England Patriots and Dallas Cowboys), so I'm doing my little bit with a fundraiser for the COMIC BOOK LEGAL DEFENSE FUND.

The CBLDF is a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting the rights of free speech and free expression in comics books, graphic novels, and related fields. My own roots as a "funny book" fan go all the way back to the letters of comment I published in FANTASTIC FOUR, AVENGERS, and other Marvel comics back in the early 60s. I also attended the very first comicon, and won my first writing prize for an amateur prose superhero yarn (an Alley Award, which I never received, sob), so comics are a medium dear to my heart... as anyone who has ever read my own long-running WILD CARDS series of mosaic novels surely knows.

Accordingly, I've donated one hundred (100) signed hardcover copies of the Wild Cards mosaic novel INSIDE STRAIGHT to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, to be offered to the first hundred donors making contributors of $100 or more.


The copies have all been signed by yours truly... as well as by my assistant editor, Melinda M. Snodgrass, and writers Daniel Abraham, Carrie Vaughn, Michael Cassutt, John Jos. Miller, and Caroline Spector. Which is to say, by ALL the contributors save for the elusive S.L. Farrell. This "Seven Signature Special" will continue only so long as the supplies last.

All contributions to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund are tax deductible.

For more than 25 years, the CBLDF has been protecting the comics medium in courtrooms, libraries, and classrooms all over the United States by providing legal counsel and education on issues relating to comics censorship. A proud sponsor of Banned Book Week, the CBLDF is supporting several events around the country supporting the Freedom to Read, and offers a rich range of resources about banned comics and how to defend against challenges on www.cbldf.org.

Most recently, the CBLDF has called for a school district in Connecticut to rescind a graphic novel ban carried out against the district's own policies. In the past year the Fund prevailed in a case defending an American comic book reader who faced wrongful criminal charges in Canada because of Japanese comic book images on his laptop computer. An amicus brief they authored was also cited by the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to strike down an unconstitutional California law seeking to regulate violent content in the case Brown v. EMA.

"The CBLDF is a small organization with a powerful mission, and that work is only possible because of the generous contribution of our supporters," CBLDF Executive Director Charles Brownstein says. "We're extremely grateful to Mr. Martin for this generous contribution, and to everyone who will have the opportunity to own one of these unique signed novels. The CBLDF is a tremendous team effort between the creative and readership communities who value the importance of intellectual freedom for comics and all media. We're thankful to be celebrating Banned Books Week with George in this extraordinary way."

To make your contribution, and order your copy of INSIDE STRAIGHT, go to:


All monies should go direct to the CBLDF, not to me.

Sorry, I cannot add a personal inscription to your book. The copies have already been signed by all concerned (save for Mr. Farrell), and are on their way to the CBLDF.

Free speech is one of the cornerstones of our democracy, yet somehow it is always under attack. The world is full of people who think they know better, and want to tell you what you should read, what you should write, what you should see. Christian fundamentalists, Muslim extremists, the right, the left... everybody seems to have a book or two they want banned, an idea or two they don't want expressed. Well, I say it's spinach, and I say the hell with them.

Donate some money, get a tax deduction, visit the world of the Wild Cards, and add a swell signed collectible to your collection... that's a win, win, win, win if I ever heard one.

And thanks.


Ray Feighery
Oct. 2nd, 2012 07:12 pm (UTC)
Very Generous George and for a wonderful cause.

I volunteered for the CBLDF for years and Charles is a friend. I always try to help them out (as well as Hero Initiative) whenever I can and wish I was in a position to do more.
I still go back to the case of Jesus Castillo who as a Comic Store Manager (not the owner he just worked there) was tried and convicted of violating Texas law because he sold an Adult Comic which was in a clearly marked "Adult Section" of the store to...an ADULT Undercover Police Officer!
While the Prosecution met none of the Federal Standards for Obscenity he was convicted based on the fact that 'Comics are for children and therefore his intent was to sell this to children" Something which he never did.
The trial cost the fund I believe between $70-90K for the defense which went to the Supreme Court who chose not to hear the case... so the Donations are key!
Rose Marie Holt
Oct. 2nd, 2012 09:38 pm (UTC)
I hate comics now but used to like them.

Anyway no books should be banned, ever. Otherwise how are kids supposed to subvert their parents?

OK anxiously awaiting my book - tho the USPS doesnt like my dirt road so I'll have to drive to the PO. Which is fine. There's a good diner there.
Dan Cotter
Oct. 2nd, 2012 10:00 pm (UTC)
Not Every Political Philosophy Wants to Tell People
Libertarians, like myself, believe in the non-aggression principle, which means that you can't commit acts of aggression against the innocent. In other words, you can only use aggression in self-defense. In other words, keep your hands to your self and don't steal. All of our views start from this first principle. Then you must define property rights, which we would do through Lockean homesteading principles. The human race needs a healthy dose of "mind your own business."

If you care to understand what it means to be a libertarian and why we are wholly different than the left-right paradigm, read this:

Oct. 3rd, 2012 09:27 pm (UTC)
Re: Not Every Political Philosophy Wants to Tell People
Libertarians are against censorship? Truly? I have to admit that while I would disagree with some stances (ie I believe there needs to be environmental protections because when corporations were left alone to take care of it they did a poor job), that would make me intrigued?

I always hear that the Libertarians are all about freedom. And when I think of Freedom, I think of Thoreau's Civil Disobedience. But I always wondered "Whose Freedom?" My questions could go on forever, and this isn't the place. I will check out that site.

Edited at 2012-10-03 09:29 pm (UTC)
Dan Cotter
Oct. 4th, 2012 07:55 am (UTC)
Re: Not Every Political Philosophy Wants to Tell People
Yes, of course, libertarians are against censorship. We believe people should be free to do as they wish as long as they don't commit acts of violence against another person or his property. As for the environment, we believe that it should be illegal to pollute another person's property. That would be an act of aggression. Obviously, it is a complex issue, and you get knee deep in the complexities of libertarian theory when you delve into our views on the environment, but it is safe to say that we also want to live in a clean world. If you check out that site you'll find much on environmental issues, as well as answers to any other question you would have about the libertarian philosophy.

Before delving into a specific issue, though, I would recommend a few books that lay out our main principles so that you can better understand how we come to the positions that we do. Most of these books you can get for free at mises.org in their literature section.

Libertarianism Today by Jacob Huebert
For a New Liberty by Murray Rothbard
The Ethics of Liberty by Murray Rothbard
The Market For Liberty by Morris and Linda Tannehill
and Democracy The God That Failed by Hans Hermann Hoppe

I lived most of my life as a pretty die hard liberal, but those books completely changed my life. If you ever do have questions, feel free to friend me on facebook. I'd be more than happy to help in any way I can. I love the discussion of ideas more than anything so don't hesitate to ask whatever you like. If I know the answer I'll tell you, and if I can't explain it well enough then I can point you in the right direction.
Oct. 3rd, 2012 05:15 pm (UTC)
Also, if your public library is like mine, they're probably doing something this week that could use support. We're doing a marathon reading of banned books. I participated Monday and the person before my part read from Animal Farm. I hadn’t read that book in years and had completely forgotten it was once considered subversive. It was good to hear old Major's education of the barn yard animals again so I picked up my old copy when I got home. Anyway, maybe some folks on here would like to see what’s going on at their own local library. As far as ensuring an open marketplace of ideas, supporting your library’s a good place to start.
Oct. 3rd, 2012 09:22 pm (UTC)
Banned Books.... Censorship should be ILLEGAL
I was just reading Fahrenheit 451 with my class. This is such an amazing book! I think everyone should read it. Luckily we have the version with his section at the end (I think it is entitled CODA) where he really lets loose about censorship.

Kudos to you for helping with the fund. But I think a law outlawing censorship would be a great step in the right direction.
Oct. 4th, 2012 05:57 am (UTC)
Re: Banned Books.... Censorship should be ILLEGAL
Well, we actually have a law outlawing censorship : the first amendment.

Not that it has stopped the censors over the years.
Oct. 4th, 2012 11:23 pm (UTC)
Re: Banned Books.... Censorship should be ILLEGAL
Most of this banning was done by schools, libraries and school boards. The theory is kids do not have the same first amendment rights that adults do because they need to be protected from certain salacious material (Like the writings of Thomas Jefferson in Texas). That was also the reasoning of The Seduction of the Innocent etc. It’s an interesting area of law now because it’s all “balancing tests” which make for inherently mystifying and hard to apply case law. Lots of age consideration and community standards. So, yeah we have a law but it’s not without exceptions particularly where kids are concerned. I’m actually having a hard time coming up with a book that was outright banned by the US Government across the board (The Pentagon Papers but that wasn’t technically a book). Maybe Henry Miller counts since his works were nabbed by customs inspectors…
Michael Berl
Oct. 3rd, 2012 11:14 pm (UTC)
There is only one thing to really comment about, as everything else Mr Martin said is indisputable.
But the little side blow to the Patriots provokes a response! Go Patriots! Offensive Player of the Week for Tom Brady in Week 4! Another record, tied with Peyton Manning (the best quarterback in his family).
Oct. 4th, 2012 01:00 am (UTC)
Sir, I know this is not the discuss, but I read what you said about the fanfics. I can understand truly, I love books and I dicovered fanfics about 7 years, I wrote too and I really love this universe. But I understand your concern, cause I am a lawyer, and alwys defend fanfics for be a love fan work and no profits, no own commercial use, or intend. But what I see now on ff.net is a large scale of fanfics be published, and a big part of the fandons are suporting this immoral and ilegal actions, and buying the books. Before, if some fanficwriter was good would write and publish his/her original story, now he/she is eat alive the work and the fandom of a author.It´s ridiculous. So, I am really disapponted about it. One of famous case now is this 50 shades of Greys that were a Twilight fanfiction, and few care about how wrong this is. Both works are literature trash, but I care about the implications of copyright and respect about this delicate line fanfics-copyrights.
I met you on Comic Con this year, I could take you sigh on my notebook in front the Marriott Hotel, I was so nervous and afraid to bother you, that I did not said nothing, less than nothing..haha. But your books are fantastic, I love the political-historical- puzzle thing... All the complex of characters.
Thank you so much for your work.
Salutes from Brazil!
Oct. 4th, 2012 05:56 am (UTC)
Re: Fanfics
Thanks for the kind words.

I am not wading into the fanfic swamp again, however. I made my position clear last go round. Nothing has changed.

Please, no further discussion of fanfic here.
Oct. 4th, 2012 06:01 pm (UTC)
I'm curious how fast this sells out.
Oct. 5th, 2012 09:49 am (UTC)
"I say it's spinach & the hell with it" - Best Berlin song to whistle along to in history.
Please run for President.Anyone wanting public office should automatically be barred as unfit.(BTW $100 is only £60).

Edited at 2012-10-05 10:58 am (UTC)
Oct. 5th, 2012 08:07 pm (UTC)
Couldn't agree more with your comments about free speech
George, It is interesting to be on the same side with you politically. So often I disagree, not so much with your intent, but on the way to get there. On this, though, there can be no debate. The Bill of Rights makes no provision for offensive or even inaccurate speech. It protects all speech, and whether I agree with what someone is saying or not, I will always defend their right to say it. In fact, I want to express my respect for you on this issue. As I stated, I sit across the aisle from you politically, and while I read the forum regularly, the only times I comment are when my views clash with your own. You have never blocked my comments and have occasionally responded to them personally, and I respect and commend that. Today, upon seeing the last few paragraphs (especially) of your above post, I nodded and walked away from the computer, pleased -though not surprised- by your stance. Then I thought about things and decided that, while I'm only one usually-dissenting voice, that I would express my agreement on this occasion when our views harmonize. I think we would be better off as a country and a people if more would celebrate the things we agree on and work to better those aims together.
Rose Marie Holt
Oct. 6th, 2012 05:31 am (UTC)
Wild card
Just started Wild Card 1 (newer version) and it is knocking my eyes out! If I were young again or if I werent fried from running around today I'd be up all night reading it. I took it into Costco to read while having a hotdog and lemonade after some serious shopping and I was LOST - <3 <3
Oct. 6th, 2012 01:22 pm (UTC)
Banning ideas takes a certain kind of childish fear and/or hate. How old are these banners, five?
Eli Patrice
Oct. 9th, 2012 09:19 am (UTC)
Free Speech in America?
With the presidential debates going on this month I decided to explore why they are set up the way that they are. This lead me to the Commission on Presidential Debates, and I was shocked (not really "shocked," but more like: oh of course, why shouldn't there be corruption here too? there is everywhere else) to discover that this was a private corporation jointly established by the Democratic and Republican parties. Which would explain why there have only been Republicans and Democrats featured in these presidential debates since the CPD took over, and which would further explain why no third party has been able to gain a foothold in the polls year after year. The mainstream media, of which the presidential debates are a big part, is after all the most powerful tool for influencing potential voters. The "free speech" appears to be awarded only to the corporate donors for each of the two powerhouse political parties and the lobbyists in D.C., nevermind about the people. When the wealthy and powerful control the very mechanism that informs voting, how is voting an accurate expression of free speech? Anyway, this is only loosely related to book censorship, but my point is that when I discovered this, I thought of good old Littlefinger, who also uses his power/money to buy more power/money. And this is why I love ASOIAF: because it speaks to so many of the truths of society and human nature, both admirable and ugly. I think King's Landing and Washington shows us that the ugly seems to be nurtured and facilitated when people and groups of people become empowered. However I'd much rather read about King's Landing than Washington because I have to think as an author you'll be dishing out some just desserts and poetic justice here and there; I don't often see them in real life.

Edited at 2012-10-09 09:27 am (UTC)
Oct. 9th, 2012 07:19 pm (UTC)
is this banning?
"Most recently, the CBLDF has called for a school district in Connecticut to rescind a graphic novel ban carried out against the district's own policies."

Do you have any more details about this? It could very be a school district dealing with a limited budget deciding not to buy graphic novels. They tend to be far more expensive than regular books. Also, you can make the argument that they don't provide as much value to someone as reading a regular book. I would think that English teachers would wants kids to do book reports on actual books and not on books with lots of pictures.

I don't know the details about this. Also about lifting the 'ban'. Its easy enough to lift the 'ban' and then have the people who purchase books simply not buy any graphic novels. I would agree with this. As stated, the cost of graphic novels is higher, so you can get a wider variety of regular books than you can get graphic novels. I would also argue that the educational value to kids is higher with a regular book than a graphic novel.

Again I don't know the details of the ban.
Oct. 10th, 2012 04:36 pm (UTC)
Graphic Books v 'Regular' Books?
Interesting. My tuppence worth: My primary school (5-12yrs) used graphic books of Shakespeare's plays, Chaucer's Canterbury Tales & Robert Burns's 'Tam O'Shanter. This helped understand the unfamiliar words & phrases & sparked a passion for literature I have kept my whole life.
Oct. 12th, 2012 02:45 pm (UTC)
ASOIAF in Brazil
I just want to inform that this week, here in Brazil, all 5 ASOIAF books are among the Top 10 Best-Selling books.
Rj Buckler
Oct. 13th, 2012 01:42 am (UTC)
Hi George!

I've been enjoying watching my girlfriend read the ASOIAF books. She's an Irish lass who is into history and ancient scenery. She picks up a lot of small tips of the hat to Irish history in the plotting of Ice and Fire. I never knew about the trope of the king killed by a boar til she told me about it. It's fun to learn about it from her.

She was wondering about the photo of you on the back of the paperbacks. It's a black and white photo of you in front of a castle. She is wondering if that castle/tower might be in Ireland and if you know which one it is?

P.S. - When Arya is Cat of the Canals, she's also wondering if that's a subtle Molly Malone reference?

Oct. 17th, 2012 02:15 pm (UTC)
Irish etymology in ASOIAF
Ooh, yes, & 'Bran' in Irish gaelic means 'raven' or 'crow'.
Oct. 14th, 2012 01:55 pm (UTC)
I've just written you the private LJ message concerning one Russian SF convention. Thank you for your answer in avance! :)
Thiago Brito
Oct. 14th, 2012 05:32 pm (UTC)
49ners or giants??
my money is on San Francisco...


George R.R. Martin
George R. R. Martin

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