Changing of the Guard at CBLDF

Thu, August 5th, 2004 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
Jonah Weiland, Founder/Former Owner

Official Press Release

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund elected new officers at its Board of

Directors meeting at July's Comic-Con International. Founder Denis

Kitchen retired from the Board, and will be replaced as President by Chris

Staros, publisher of Top Shelf Productions. Milton Griepp was elected as

the organization's new Treasurer, succeeding Frank Mangiaracina. Peter

David, John Davis, Neil Gaiman, Frank Mangiaracina, Greg Ketter, and Louise

Nemschoff were also re-elected to serve another term on the Board of


Kitchen's retirement from the Board marks the end of an era for the Fund,

which he founded 18 years ago. "The challenges facing comics are

different from when I founded the Fund," Kitchen said. "In the eighties,

comics were still fighting for respectability and it was perhaps easier for

them to be stigmatized as kid stuff. Two decades later, comics have

attained a certain respectability, but are facing new sets of challenges. I

think it's fitting that the generation directly facing these challenges, led by

Chris Staros, a publisher after my own heart, should be the ones standing

up to them."

Chris Staros recalls, "Back in '97 I wrote Denis Kitchen to tell him that 'one

day, when I've earned my place in comics, I'd love to serve on the CBLDF

Board of Directors,' as I've always believed in the absolute importance of its

mission. For two years I've had the pleasure of serving on the Board under

Denis, and have witnessed first hand what an amazing asset he's been in

defending the First Amendment rights of our industry. It'll be tough to fill

the shoes of the founder of the Fund, but I'm honored to take over as

President, and look forward to working with the entire community in this


Milton Griepp's election as Treasurer was received as good news by

Kitchen who said, "I'm delighted that Milton is the organization's new

Treasurer. He brings a particular corporate expertise and extensive

experience in non-profit fiscal management that I'm certain will help the

Fund grow even stronger in the future."

Kitchen adds, "I look forward to continuing my support of the Fund from

the other side of the table. I feel that I'm leaving the organization in good

hands, with an active Board under the leadership of Chris and Milton, and

a strong office under the management of Charles Brownstein. I'm

confident that the Fund can only become stronger as it confronts the

challenges on the horizon."


A Personal Message from Chris Staros:

Hello, everyone. Thank you so much for the warm reception. I've received

dozens of heart-felt and congratulatory emails since the above

announcement was released by the CBLDF. It's nice to be in such a

supportive community, and I look forward to working with all of you in the

coming months.

You know, comics is the last truly free artistic medium. Yet the fact that

it's relatively small makes it extremely vulnerable to politicians and

prosecutors trying to make names for themselves on the often-overzealous

moral ground of "protecting the children." It is here that First Amendment

battle lines are drawn and precedent setting cases are determined, and

that's why it's critical that all of us -- publishers, distributors, retailers,

creators, and fans alike -- support the CBLDF in any way that we can.

It may surprise you to learn that there are currently only 1,300 members of

the CBLDF. In an industry of over 3,000 retailers and at least 5,000

professionals -- the most likely to be defended by the Fund -- as well as

over 250,000 fans, there are only 1,300 people who feel strong enough to

become "card carrying" members of the CBLDF.

We're fortunate enough to live in a stable country, which gives us

the "luxury" of becoming complacent about political matters. But in a post

9/11 environment, when the battle for our civil liberties is being fought at

all levels, this is not the time to sit on the sidelines.

I've personally witnessed -- as Top Shelf -- what this community is capable

of when it rallies behind a cause. And the CBLDF is a cause worth rallying

for. In his acceptance speech for the CBLDF's Defender of Liberty Award at

this year's Eisner ceremony, Jim Lee eloquently stated "You certainly don't

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need the likes of me to tell you what dangers we face as an industry and

as a community: dangers from overzealous local prosecutors looking for

easy, under-funded targets for political gain; dangers from a federal

government using an environment of fear and uncertainty to weaken our

civil rights. … We live in a scary time -- a time when the power of the First

Amendment is truly being tested and it is my honor to be able to help in

any way possible. But we need your involvement as well. Every professional,

every retailer, every fan here should be a member of the CBLDF."

And in Chuck Rozanski's Defender of Liberty acceptance speech from the

previous year he impassionedly expressed, "One of the things that's come

up lately is the concept that patriotism involves repression. I think that in

this country -- my adopted country -- that patriotism, true patriotism,

involves defending the rights that the people who came before us fought

and died to achieve. … we owe it to the next generation to not leave them

a world which has greater repression and less freedom than the world we

were given. So I ask you all to support the CBLDF in any way that you can."

When pillars of the community voice articulate and emotional pleas like

this, there is no excuse not to take action.

Get involved in something worth fighting for.

Please commit to a one-year membership today (starting @ $25):

With one click you can join the fund:




(ALL membership proceeds to the CBLDF)

Your friend thru comics,

Chris Staros

President, CBLDF Board of Directors

Publisher, Top Shelf Productions

PO Box 1282

Marietta, GA 30061-1282

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