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8 Comic Books in Danger of Censorship





Recently a college student at Crafton Hills College called for a ban on several comic books she found lewd or offensive. Fortunately, this challenge was declined. But it serves as a reminder that we must be ever vigilant against the threat of censorship. So, in the spirit of appreciating daring writers and illustrators who are willing to push boundaries, here are several comics that risked having repercussions for their risqué material.


1. Sandman Goes for Broke

Neil Gaiman’s definitive series not only won numerous awards, but helped to bridge the gap between traditional comics and the literary world. Of course, comic book readers have always understood the value of a quality work of sequential art, but Sandman’s distinctive style and impeccable writing made it a crossover hit and helped usher comic books into the mainstream. In turn, this World Fantasy Award Winner has resisted several attempts at banishment, typically due to age-inappropriate material which now has it categorized into the adult book section of your local library.


2. Persepolis Faces Persecution

Marjane Satrapi’s moving and hopeful—as well as critically lauded—graphic novel depicts life under before, during, and after the Iranian Revolution. A recent animated adaption was also a success, winning the Jury Prize at Cannes. Since its release, there hasn’t been any significant public outcry about the book, save for some in a few conservative Middle Eastern countries. That’s why it came as a shock when the Chicago Public School District pulled it from a handful of libraries and classrooms a couple years ago. Thankfully, cooler heads prevailed when many, including the students of that district, noted that the “graphic images” were no less disturbing than those in most history books.


3. The Joke is on Batman: the Killing Joke

Alan Moore is no stranger to challenged comics. His stories often buck the status quo and flip comic book concepts on their heads—a la Watchmen and V for Vendetta. So it’s only par for the course that his take on one of the archetypal four color hero-villain duos would raise more than a few eyebrows. In 2013, a Nebraskan library-goer tried to ban the Bat, citing the book’s encouragement of torture and rape. Once again, the voices of reason prevailed, and the book was seen not as an incitement to violence but as a satirical and thought-provoking reaction to our modern culture of violence and, hence, suitable for most audiences.


4. Dragon Ball Gets Blackballed

Responsible for spawning a virtual Manga empire, one which is extremely popular with children, Akira Toriyama’s archetypal graphic novel might be the last comic you’d think would face down the censors. The original series is about a boy named Goku growing into manhood and martial arts discipline while trying to summon a wish-fulfilling dragon via the eponymous dragon balls. Although based on Chinese lore, the series does feature some violence and brief nudity. Because of this, in 2009, it came under scrutiny in Maryland. Auspiciously, the local libraries still found it suitable for young adult readers.


5. A Maus to Squeak No More

While the content of Art Spiegelman’s Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel is by necessity dark and disturbing, it is also a story of survival and reconnection. Taken from his estranged father’s heart-wrenching tales of experiences during the Holocaust, Maus is one man’s perspective and attempt to make sense of horrors around him—horrors that will continue to darken our collective history indefinitely. In the story, different races are portrayed by different animals: Germans as cats, Jews as mice, Americans are Dogs, etc. Apparently, one Polish-American took offense to being portrayed as a pig. The anthropomorphic representations in the book are a tool of narrative symbolism and not meant to be a definitive ethnic categorization. They are characterizations in a story, not a valid reason to censor a book. And this is why, thankfully, Maus remains readily available.


6. Watchmen on the Watch List

Alan Moore has to feel a special pride at having so many comics on the challenged list–perhaps a sense of “guess I must be doing something right.” Watchmen was one of his first to make it on the list, thanks to its lurid depiction of a more realistic clutch of retired superheroes and their all too human problems. The series trade paperback, a Hugo Award-recipient, has come under fire on several occasions, but thus far remains available for all to read.


7. Tank Girl, No Thanks

Set in a parched post-apocalyptic wasteland ruled by a ruthless corporation, Alan Martin and Jamie Hewlett’s raunchy and hyper-violent dystopian epic may not be a paragon of virtue, but it’s a poignant examination of disturbing possibilities of consumerism gone (further) awry and oligarchy as a domineering political force. Most of all, it’s just a fun book to read. Clearly the female empowerment and subtle philosophical jabs are lost beneath Tank Girl’s drinking, sexual liberation, occasional drug use, and nudity. Although challenged most recently in 2009, the queen of mobile artillery has maintained her slot in the local library’s adult graphic novel section in spite of detractors.


8. Stuck on Themes in Stuck Rubber Baby

With themes delving into homosexuality and racial discrimination, it comes as little surprise that Howard Cruze’s graphic novel has been under the gun of some uptight would-be suppressors. Examining racism, homophobia, and gender identification in the Deep South circa 1960, the book is also a moving portrayal of coming of age, accepting yourself, and accepting the wide array of human possibilities. Apparently it also tripped the triggers of some concerned citizens (read right-wing crusaders) in Texas. Despite some objections, the book remains in the town’s library system, although it’s now classified as an adult graphic novel rather than residing in the Young Adult section.

If you’re concerned about censorship issues or interested in supporting organizations who fight the good fight for free speech, please feel free to visit one of their sites, including the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF) or the Intellectual Freedom Center of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

With a Creative Writing degree in one hand and an endless curiosity in the other, Andy dabbles in many creative fields. He's published blog posts, articles, hotel copy, fiction, and poetry professionally. Currently he dwells in Austin, TX, with his brilliant and understanding fiancee, Kim.

Artificial Intelligence

Gaming models are created by Auctoria using generative AI





Aleksander Caban, co-founder of Polish VR game developer Carbon Studio, noticed a major problem in modern game design several years ago. He manually created rocks, hills, paths, and other video game environment elements, which was time-consuming and laborious.

Caban created tech to automate the process.

In collaboration with Michal Bugała, Joanna Zając, Karolina Koszuta, and Błażej Szaflik, he founded Auctoria, an AI-powered platform for creating 3D game assets. Auctoria, from Gliwice, Poland, is in Startup Battlefield 200 at Disrupt 2023.

Auctoria was founded on a passion for limitless creativity, according to Zając in an email interview. It was designed to help game developers, but anyone can use it. Few advanced tools exist for professionals; most are for hobbyists and amateurs. We want to change that.”

Using generative AI, Auctoria creates various video game models. One feature generates basic 3D game levels with pathways, while another converts uploaded images and textures of walls, floors, and columns into 3D versions.

Like DALL-E 2 and Midjourney, Auctoria can generate assets from text prompts. Or they can submit a sketch, which the platform will try to turn into a digital model.


All AI algorithms and training data for Auctoria were developed in-house, according to Zając.

She said “Auctoria is based 100% on our content, so we’re not dependent on any other provider.” It’s independent—Auctoria doesn’t use open source or external engines.

In the emerging market for AI game asset generation tools, Auctoria isn’t alone. The 3DFY, Scenario, Kaedim, Mirage, and Hypothetic startups create 3D models. Even Nvidia and Autodesk are entering the space with apps like Get3D, which converts images to 3D models, and ClipForge, which generates models from text descriptions.

Meta also tried tech to create 3D assets from prompts. In December, OpenAI released Point-E, an AI that synthesizes 3D models for 3D printing, game design, and animation.

Given the size of the opportunity, the race to market new solutions isn’t surprising. According to Proficient Market Insights, 3D models could be worth $3.57 billion by 2028.

According to Zając, Auctoria’s two-year R&D cycle has led to a more robust and comprehensive toolset than rivals.

“Currently, AI-based software is lacking for creating complete 3D world models,” Zając stated. “3D editors and plugins offer only a fraction of Auctoria’s capabilities. Our team started developing the tool two years ago, giving us a ready-to-use product.”

Auctoria, like all generative AI startups, must deal with AI-generated media legal issues. Not yet clear how AI-generated works can be copyrighted in the U.S.

However, the Auctoria team of seven employees and five co-founders is delaying answering those questions. Instead, they’re piloting the tooling with game development studios like Caban’s Carbon Studio.

Before releasing Auctoria in the coming months, the company hopes to raise $5 million to “speed up the process” of creating back-end cloud services to scale the platform.

Zając stated that the funding would reduce the computing time required for creating worlds or 3D models with Auctoria. Achieving a software-as-a-service model requires both infrastructure and user experience enhancements, such as a simple UI, excellent customer service, and effective marketing. We’ll keep our core team small, but we’ll hire more by year’s end.”

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Syphon Filter on PlayStation Plus Premium: Dark Mirror and Ape Academy 2 Have Awards




Even though trophy support for older games on PS Plus Premium isn’t always great, you can always count on Sony’s first-party games to have it.If you like collecting these digital trinkets, you’re in luck, because today’s big PlayStation Plus update includes two classic games that can now be used to earn Trophies.

Each trophy list for Ape Academy 2 and Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror includes the platinum cherry on top. You can look at their respective listings here and here if you’re interested.

The list for Dark Mirror appears to be quite simple—you can basically earn them all by finishing the game. The trophies in Ape Academy 2 appear to be a little more complicated, requiring you to complete particular objectives in card battles and advance to specified rankings. Nonetheless, it doesn’t seem too difficult, so we’re looking at a couple of quite simple platinums.

Ridge Racer: Type 4 is this month’s other premium classic game; sadly, it does not offer trophies. But it makes up for it by being a complete banger.

However, will you be obtaining some of these trophies with a nostalgic flavor?

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Beautiful New Book Teaches About the Art of Horizon Forbidden West





This year, Sony produced some truly outstanding work, releasing four high-profile games on the PS5 and PS4 (not to mention the numerous PC ports). The earliest of these, Horizon Forbidden West, arrived in February of 2022 and got the year off to a strong start. One of Aloy’s sophomore journey’s greatest strengths, among the many other things we like about it, is its excellent art direction. The Art of Horizon Forbidden West allows you to now delve deeply into the game’s visuals.

This coffee table book, which was published by Dark Horse Books, contains 200 pages of concept art and developer commentary. It provides an inside look at the process used to develop engaging characters and settings, and Forbidden West is certainly not lacking in either.

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There will be two editions of the book: standard and deluxe. Both are hardback books, with the deluxe edition having pages with metallic edges and a unique slipcase. These are now up for pre-order and will go on sale on April 25, 2023.

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