Every year, PEN America asks PEN Members and supporters—writers and editors of all backgrounds and genres—to celebrate the freedom to read by reflecting on the banned books that matter most to them. This is our way of taking part in the American Library Association’s annual Banned Books Week, which brings together the entire book community in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular. Check out this year’s Banned Books feature here.
Below, a graphic narrative presented by artist, writer, and comics curator Anne Elizabeth Moore. Read her essay on soft censorship and its impact on creatives and their output here plus two more pieces that illustrate the many facets and effects of the suppression of art and information, But That’s Not Censorship! and The Amazing Adventures of the Censor-ship!
Anne Elizabeth Moore is a journalist, comics anthologist, and cultural critic. Her book Unmarketable was named a Best Book of 2007 by Mother Jones, and her essays have garnered Honorable Mentions in the Best American Non-Required Reading series. She is the founding editor of Houghton Mifflin’s Best American Comics series and is the former editor of Punk Planet. Her work has been exhibited in the Whitney Biennial in New York, in a solo exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, across Europe, and in Cambodia. She was awarded the third house in the Write A House fellowship, and resides in Detroit.
Sheika Lugtu is a cartoonist and teaching artist based in Chicago. Visit sheikalugtu.com.
Elke R. Steiner is a comics creator with a focus on German-Jewish history, biographies, feminism and LGBT* based in Berlin. See steinercomix.de.
Fran Syass is Chicago-based filmmaker and artist. Go to vimeo.com/fransyass.