Action Lab Entertainment has accused Diamond Comics Distributors of censorship after declining to publish a cover with Nazi imagery inside its Previews catalog. The planned cover to Athena Voltaire and The Sorcerer Pope #1 by series creator Steve Bryant features the titular lead character fighting Nazi soldiers - with Nazi swastikas prominently featured as part of historally accurate uniforms.
"We at Action Lab believe that this is one case of censorship goes too far. When we choose to turn a blind eye to the evil atrocities done in history and hide the symbols of that evil, trying to pretend they didn’t exist, we are only a short step from forgetting and allowing it to be repeated," said Action Lab CEO Bryan Seaton. "We should not be glorifying these images, but we should never allow history to be forgotten. A period comic showing historically accurate costuming is not the place for censorship."
Although disagreeing, Action Lab provided Diamond an amended cover image with "censored" over the Nazi swastikas that ran in Previews. Diamond has agreed to distribute the un-redacted cover when the book goes on sale.
Why the issue? It's all about where Diamond distributes comic books - and the Previews catalog.
In addition to the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, Diamond also distributes comic books to other foreign countries - including Germany. Since the end of World War II, the German government has enacted and enforced a prohibition of Nazi symbols (including the swastika and the SS logo) with only minor allowances. Hungary has a similiar law in place.
Even if Diamond restricted the sale of this Athena Voltaire issue from Germany, publishing the cover in Previews un-altered would run afoul with the German law and put the entire catalog in violation, with consequences including a customs block, a fine, and even jail time.
"We have had a longstanding policy to not feature swastika’s in the Previews catalog - going back to the 1990’s, due to having customs issue in the past of getting PREVIEWS into Germany and Austria," Diamond's Marketing Director Dan Manser told Newsarama.
Action Lab's CEO said that his company does not sell comic books to Germany, however Diamond has confirmed that it has distributed Action Lab titles to German bookstores on a regular basis as part of its exclusive worldwide distribution deal with the publisher.