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CBLDF's Free Comic Book Day anthology in dispute as Boom! asks for it to be destroyed

(Image credit: Comic Book Legal Defense Fund)

Earlier this year, Boom! Studios organized an all-ages comic book anthology - Defend Coimcs 2020 - for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF) to publish as part of Free Comic Book Day. In light of recent events regarding the CBLDF however, several creators who have worked on the anthology have told Newsarama that they have asked their material to be withdrawn from the project - or the anthology be destroyed completely.  And Newsarama has learned Boom! has requested the issue be destroyed. 

CBLDF's Defend Comics has become an annual tradition, published each year as part of FCBD with the assistance of various publishers and creators.

(Image credit: Comic Book Legal Defense Fund)

"In light of recent events surrounding the CBLDF, Boom! Studios asked that this year's planned FCBD issue from the CBLDF not be distributed," a Boom! Spokesperson tells Newsarama. "Unfortunately, the issue was shipped out to retailers early in error (without being billed). We've requested the CBLDF and Diamond to ask retailers to destroy the copies they received, and a destruction notice should be sent to retailers shortly."

Although Boom! is best-known to readers as a publisher, it is CBLDF that publishes the Defend Comics anthology, and supplied it to retailers through Diamond. CBLDF's president Christina Merkler tells Newsarama that they have heard Boom!'s request, but are not issuing a destruction notice to retailers.

"We respect the wishes of Boom! Studios and will leave the decision to distribute with the individual retailers," Merkler said. Merkler is also a retailer, as co-owner of the mail order giant Discount Comic Book Service (as well as Lunar Distribution).

Newsarama has independently confirmed with six retailers across North America that have received copies of CBLDF's Defend Comics 2020 anthology, with instructions to hold it for an August 19 release. The retailers have individually confirmed that they haven't received a notice - from the publisher (CBLDF) or the distributor (Diamond) - to destroy the books.

Diamond Comic Distributors is the organizer of Free Comic Book Day, and distributes the titles to retailers. They have not responded to Newsarama's inquiries.

Joe Field, founder of Free Comic Book Day and owner of the comic shop Flying Colors Comics in Concord, CA., says that at this point its best left to retailers.

(Image credit: Comic Book Legal Defense Fund)

"This is an anthology that was ordered before any of the current turmoil with CBLDF in place. It's kind of hard to stop the machine all together on a dime," Field says. "So my guess is that individual retailers will be making the choice.

"In all honesty, I don't think many retailer shave invested tons of money in this anthology, given its cost and how it's not actually one of the core FCBD titles," he continued. 

"At this point given its already distributed, it's best left for the market - and the individual retailers - to decide," Field says. "I don't think it's going to get a lot of widespread distribution or promotion given the ugliness behind what's happening with the CBLDF. I would hope retailers would consider that when they chose to put it out or use it."

CBLDF's Defend Comics has become an annual tradition, published each year as part of FCBD with the assistance of various publishers and creators. 

This year's anthology, organized by Boom!, includes work by Jeffrey Brown, Sas Milledge, Sam Davies, Christine Larsen, Jenna Ayoub, and Audra Winslow.

"For over 30 years the CBLDF has worked to advocate and defend freedom of creative expression through comics. Now, in collaboration with Boom! Studios, comes an All-Ages anthology featuring work from some of Boom! Studios' beloved creators," reads CBLDF's description of the one-shot. "These all-new stories express the liberating potential and creative fulfillment that comic books offer everyone."

Defend Comics 2020 is currently on scheduled to be released in comic book stores August 19.

Chris has covered comic book news for Newsarama since 2003, and has also written for USA Today, Life, Publisher's Weekly, Marvel Entertainment, TOKYOPOP, AdHouse Books, Cartoon Brew, Bleeding Cool, Comic Shop News, and CBR. He is the author of the book Modern: Masters Cliff Chiang, co-authored Art of Spider-Man Classic, and contributed to Dark Horse/Bedside Press' anthology Pros and (Comic) Cons. He has acted as a judge for the  2019 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards and the 2012 Stan Lee Awards. Chris is a member of the American Library Association's Graphic Novel & Comics Round Table.