Official Press Release
The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund is pleased to announce the establishment of a formal advisory board to assist the organization in advancing its mission to protect the First Amendment rights of the comics art form. The advisory board will be co-chaired by CBLDF founder Denis Kitchen, who retired from the Board of Directors in 2004, and Neil Gaiman, who, after more than a decade of service, retired from the Board earlier this year. Advisory board members will be elected for an annual term by the Fund’s Board of Directors. The inaugural advisory board will be elected and announced in January.
Denis Kitchen founded the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund in 1986 to help pay for the defense of a comic book store clerk who was wrongly prosecuted and convicted on obscenity charges for selling comics to an undercover police officer. Kitchen organized an industry fundraising effort to retain and pay for First Amendment expert Burton Joseph to wage the appeal against the conviction, which was victorious. Following this important win, Kitchen established CBLDF as an ongoing concern to protect against future prosecutions. For the organization’s first 18 years, he served as the its President, and nurtured it from a volunteer effort, driven out of an office at Kitchen Sink Press, to a professional institution with a full-time staff.
Kitchen says, “Over the 25 years since the CBLDF was founded, I’ve had the privilege of watching the organization blossom from a small group responding to specific needs to an institution that does outstanding first-response work in First Amendment emergencies and provides a broad education mission. I’m pleased to serve as co-chair of this formal advisory board to help deepen our institutional memory and broaden the knowledge and skill set at our disposal as the organization pursues its expanding mission.”
During his service on the CBLDF Board of Directors, Neil Gaiman advanced the organization’s work with extraordinary support in fundraising and awareness building efforts. Gaiman embarked on several reading tours and developed merchandise, special events, and partnerships that raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the organization’s important work. Gaiman was also instrumental in building awareness for the organization with public service events, and he was a key mover in establishing CBLDF’s educational program. Most recently, the Gaiman Foundation contributed $60,000 to CBLDF to support the growth of its education program.
Of his work on the new advisory board, Gaiman says, “The CBLDF is making important strides in protecting our freedom to read comics with its vital education efforts. With Denis, I hope to develop an advisory board that will reach more of the people who make, read, publish and sell comics of all kinds, and help us to make the Fund an even more powerful and active institution for the new generation of readers and creators, who may find themselves needing our help and who have come to us from the web, from academia, from the world of Manga, and beyond.”
Individuals who have distinguished themselves with service to the organization, such as past Board service, volunteer work, program work, or fundraising work will be considered for the advisory board. CBLDF President Larry Marder explains, “The Fund has always benefited from the advice of many sage people who have worked long and hard in the comic book field and who have generously shared their talents with us in the service of our mission. We believe it is time for us to unite our informal group of key individuals as an advisory board, where they can work more closely with each other and with the Board of Directors and staff to make CBLDF an even stronger guardian of our medium’s First Amendment freedoms.”
ABOUT THE COMIC BOOK LEGAL DEFENSE FUND
Comic Book Legal Defense Fund is a non-profit organization dedicated to the protection of the First Amendment rights of the comics art form and its community of retailers, creators, publishers, librarians, and readers. The CBLDF provides legal referrals, representation, advice, assistance, and education in furtherance of these goals. cbldf.org.