“One Day at the Book Burning”

On Day at the Book Burning; Mixed Media, 2013The Lawrence Public Library’s Banned Books Week trading card series is back for another year! For my entry this year I tackled another dystopian classic, Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. Prescient digs at reality TV and social media aside, this book didn’t speak to me as deeply as Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four does … perhaps because, in a move that no doubt sent Bradbury spinning in his grave, I only listened to it on audio! At least it made for a good company while I crafted this piece! However, it does lend itself naturally to the topic of book suppression. Particularly so after I learned that Fahrenheit 451, perhaps the most famous anti-censorship novel of the 20th century, was itself bowdlerized by Bradbury’s own publisher! “Some cubby-hole editors at Ballantine … had, bit by bit, censored some 75 separate sections from the novel,” wrote Bradbury in the restored 1979 edition, which had “all the damns and hells back in place.”

While I only half-jokingly told my then co-worker Mary Pawlowski that I was going to steal the collage technique she used on her 2012 entry, it turns out I kinda did– thanks for the inspiration, Mary! It was a fun change of pace to work on a piece for its purely visual aspect, and not be as concerned with panel-to-panel storytelling.

Starting today, you can pick up the first of the seven winning Banned Book trading card designs for free– just stop in the library and ask for your copy! A new card will be available each day during Banned Books Week.

2 thoughts on ““One Day at the Book Burning”

  1. This was a nice effort, Dale. The sentiment expressed by the “fireman” is good, and applies to an awful lot of things. (For example, I didn’t care much for “Bone” when I first read it. When it moved to Image and they put out reprints of all the previous issues, I picked up the reprint of #1 because I’d heard so many people gushing with praise for it, and while it was OK, it didn’t make me want to buy any of the other issues. Several months later I read that reprint of #1 again, and it was like I was reading something totally different from what I’d read before. I ended up buying all of the Image reprint comics and continued with new issues of the title all the way through the conclusion, and it remains one of my favorite comics.) It would be interesting to see how (or if) the opinions of book banners about the books they oppose change over time. I mean, Frederic Wertham actually became a proponent of comics later in his life. I wonder if people who got a book banned changed their opinion about the book in later years, or would they still want to ban it again?


  2. Thanks, Ivan! Like I said, it was a really fun piece to put together, and even though it had an intentionally rough finish to it, I was pleased with how well it came out. A pity it didn’t make the winning cut, though, as the text from the book was sized up for the illustration so that it would have been actual print size when printed. There were some nice winning designs, though, well deserving of the honor.

    My feeling is that most book banners call for suppression because of some external political agenda; likely the book itself is probably not even read. I always think of the outrage generated toward “The Last Temptation of Christ” film; certainly most of the protestors didn’t see the movie itself (and probably hadn’t read the book it was based on, either)…


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