There was a reason Alan Moore’s “Neonomicon” was shelved in the adult section of the library in Greenville County, South Carolina: It contains adult content. And it was checked out with an adult library card -- but that adult library card was in the hands of a 14-year-old girl.
When the girl asked her mother about an unfamiliar word she found in “Neonomicon,” the trouble started. The mother, Carrie Gaske, filed an official challenge against the graphic novel in June. An official decision has now been made to ban it from the library.
Moore, who is the creator of “The Watchmen,” created a dark, fatastic FBI horror story with a strong dose of Lovecraft (think creatures and tentacles) in “Neonomicon.” The graphic novel was illustrated by Jacen Burrows and published by Avatar.
When the book was challenged, it was removed from shelves and went before an internal committee for review. That committee advised the Greenville County Library to retain “Neonomicon” and return it to circulation. However, the head of the library system disagreed and decided to remove the novel from the library’s collection.
“I can override their recommendation,” Beverly James told television station WSPA. “I’m ultimately responsible.”
The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and the National Coalition Against Censorship have spoken up for “Neonomicon.” In June, they said its “deliberately disturbing depictions of sexual violence are included as a critical comment on how such subject matter is handled elsewhere within the genre.”
That critical take did not matter to Gaske. She had even been with her daughter at the library and taken the book out for her. “It looked like a murder mystery comic book to me,” Gaske said. “It looked like a child’s book. I flipped through it, and thought it was OK for her to check out.” Later, she took a closer look. “I feel that has the same content of Hustler or Playboy or things like that,” she told local media. “Maybe even worse.”
After the final decision to ban “Neomincon” was announced, retired South Carolina librarian Pat Scales expressed disappointment, saying, “It is a form of censorship.”