Shipment of 'Obscene' Comics Seized By Canadian Authorities

Q Boyer
OTTAWA — A shipment of erotic comic books slated to be delivered to the Montreal location of gay-themed chain store Priape earlier this year was seized by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) because the comics were deemed to be obscene, according to the Canadian “queer news” site Xtra.ca.

The comics seized by the CBSA are French translations published by a company called H&O Comics in France, and include such titles as “Dads & Boys” by English artist Josman, as well as work by the Japanese artist Gengoroh Tagame.

H&O spokesperson Olivier Tourtois told Xtra.ca that the company is too small and not well-funded enough to oppose the seizures, and Priape owner Bernard Rousseau said that without support from the publisher, he will not appeal the CBSA’s decision, either.

The subject matter of the particular comics at issue is another reason Rousseau isn’t inclined to oppose the seizure.

“We didn’t protest because it was mostly about younger boys and incest,” Rousseau said. “We have protested before, but we decided that after looking into the matter, it is too much.”

CBSA spokesperson Chris Williams said that the comics were deemed to be obscene because of “depictions of incest to sex with pain and sexual mutilation, defecation and vomiting.”

Denis Leblanc, who is in charge of purchasing for Priape, said that he wasn’t aware of the themes and storylines of the titles before he ordered them.

“I knew it wasn’t a church book,” Lebland said. “I knew it was erotic stories and that it was comics, but I didn’t know specifically what it was about.”

Rousseau said that given the consequences under Canadian law for selling materials determined by a court to be obscene, an abundance of caution is called for.

“You have to be careful what you sell because you can go to jail and I don’t want to get involved,” says Rousseau. “I’m too old for that.”

The risk of unintentionally selling such material is what really worries Rousseau.

“You don’t look at everything that comes in,” he said. “You might not even be aware that you’re selling something illegal.”

Jim Deva, co-owner of Vancouver’s Little Sister’s Bookstore, said that he finds the ambiguous and arbitrary standards of the CBSA troubling.

“Just to say that [CBSA] found this material in it, does not mean that it is dangerous,” Deva said. Although he emphasized that Little Sister’s does not support the sexualization of children, he said that there needs to be “a discussion in Canada about intergenerational sex.”

“Let’s have some experts look at [the content of the seized comics], and if they determine that it is [dangerous], let’s keep it out,” Deva said. “I really mistrust CBSA’s ability to determine what is obscene at the present time.”