the take

Daniel Clowes, Pornographer?

Courtesy of Pantheon

Comics blogs are up in arms today about the forced resignation of Connecticut high-school English teacher Nate Fisher, who lost his job when he gave a freshman student a copy of Daniel Clowes’s comic book Eightball. The student’s parents complained to school administrators, who declared the book — which is not on a school reading list and was given to the student as make-up reading for a summer reading assignment — “inappropriate” and suspended the teacher. After a week, he resigned.

Sadly, but not surprisingly, the girl is being bombarded with verbal abuse from her peers, as apparently the teacher was a popular one. (This makes sense; if some teacher had handed a Daniel Clowes comic to us in high school, we would have thought he was the coolest person on earth.) The girl’s father sounds like a real blowhard in the article; he demands more apologies from the school district, declares “I personally don’t ever want him teaching again,” and calls the book “borderline pornography.”

Throughout the article, the guy repeatedly acts like the teacher gave his poor daughter a copy of Hustler. Having read the comic, which was later included in Clowes’s Pantheon-published graphic novel, Ice Haven, we can say that calling this comic book “borderline pornography” is hilarious. Dude, Gossip Girl is borderline pornography. This is an extremely non-salacious art comic by a guy whose work is so tame these days he’s currently the Times magazine’s cartoonist of choice.

As Heidi MacDonald points out on the Beat, at some point this same thing is going to happen with sexually explicit “boys’ love” yaoi manga, and God help the comic-book world when it does.

Handling of teacher, comic issue riles parents [New Haven Register]
Facts emerge in fired teacher/EIGHTBALL case [The Beat/PW]

Daniel Clowes, Pornographer?