Diamond removes swastikas from GLORY and PIGS covers in Previews

Over at his blog, Image Publisher Eric Stephenson shows two Image covers that won’t make it into the Previews catalog unaltered because they contain swastikas. Click for the unaltered version of gthe PIGS #6 cover by Christian Ward:
201111071636 Diamond removes swastikas from GLORY and PIGS covers in Previews
The main reason is that it is illegal to show images of swastikas in Germany, which Stephenson finds odd:

This is nothing new. Swastika-laden images have been prohibited from appearing in publications sold in Germany for decades at this point. I’m not sure I understand what the point is, though. World War II did happen, and Nazis did exist. Outlawing specific Nazi iconography seems strangely revisionist, as though it’s best to just not acknowledge the impact that symbol had, or the evil associated with it.


Stephenson doesn’t mention that part of the reason for the ban is to prevent very much active and hateful Neo-Nazi groups from using the symbol for more evil. Indeed, it’s our understanding that the PIGS issue in question is dealing with present day and not historical Nazis.
201111071535 Diamond removes swastikas from GLORY and PIGS covers in Previews
The GLORY cover has a more historical context.

So censorship? Yes, but YMMV.

Comments

  1. No, Heidi, I actually am well aware of all that. I lived in Germany for three years during the 1980s. Censorships doesn’t solve the problem, though, which I why I don’t understand the point. Ignoring something doesn’t make it go away.

  2. awesome! i’ve arrived!!
    :D note, though: that is not the Glory cover, that’s just the title page in the book (which SOMEBODY forgot to superblack, yuck!).

  3. Yeah, the same thing happened with our Jason book I Killed Adolf Hitler a few years ago.

  4. Torsten Adair says:

    The iconography is outlawed in Germany.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strafgesetzbuch_section_86a

    The history is still being taught.


    I’m no expert, but a search on Google Image (heh) shows that Panzers sported the Wehrmacht cross, but not the swastika, and that the cross is located on the side, not up near the turret. I believe the same could be said of the uniform patches (no large swastikas on the uniforms). (Check Osprey guides for historical accuracy.) So that Glory image is using the swastika as a visual shortcut, which is a bit lazy. The Waffen-SS (also censored in Germany) would have been more accurate, and would still connote “Nazi”.

    It’s somewhat curious that the swastikas are a concern, but the gore is not.

  5. The same issue came up with an issue of THE BOYS a couple of years ago, so I’ll just link to what I wrote on the law in question back then:

    http://comiksdebris.blogspot.com/2009/06/boys-and-their-swastikas.html

  6. Wtf? That’s like them saying: “Notzing to zee herr! Notzing happened! Ask Poland! Vee vere invited for ze tea und crumpets!”

    I’m reminded of Sgt. Shultz in “Hogan’s Heroes”: “I zee NOTZINK! NOTZINK!”

  7. Thanks Marc, that was some rather interesting info about the “Swastika Law.”

    I don’t read PIGS, but I’d be willing to guess that it would fall under the exception regarding art (meaning, I don’t think it looks like a Pro-Nazi comic). I have heard of some foreign governments (Canada and the UK) being hard on comics, but maybe Germany would be different.

  8. One of the problems with the German ban is that, in this age of international commerce, it forces the censorship everywhere, not just in Germany.

    Here’s a related, somewhat amusing story: a few years ago, I put together a poster that featured a rogues’ gallery of evil tyrants and their ideological enablers, which included Hitler (as well as Stalin, Mussolini, Idi Amin, etc). The poster was available on Zazzle for about a year, and then I got a notice that the poster was being removed because it “violates our terms and conditions for content.”

    After a bit of back-and-forth correspondence, I was able to wrest from Zazzle the info that the “violation” was the image of Hitler. And that Zazzle’s policy was related to the German prohibition of not only the swastika, but also Hitler’s face, and some other images distinctly related to the Nazi Party.

    After fuming about this for a few days I made a change in the image, in which I placed a plain paper bag over Hitler’s head, with holes cut for the eyes. I resubmitted the poster image, and four years later it’s still available on Zazzle.

  9. Charles Boomkowski says:

    @Torsten Yeah, Ross Campbell is totally lazy. That’s what I think every time I get see his new pages. What a lazy guy.

  10. Devils Advocate:

    Germans knows that “it” happened. It’s their national shame and they don’t want to be reminded of it. They’d rather move past it. Which is probably hard to do when the rest of the world is bombarding them with Nazi’s imagery all the time.

    And as it’s been said, there are still Neo Nazi’s there. Last thing they want the world to see them marching in the streets of Germany with Swastika held high. People might assume they are still a serious threat and treat Germany (and German’s abroad) differently.

  11. @Torsten: i definitely pumped up the swastikas on that page, but i also researched the hell out of that King Tiger tank so i know they didn’t have swastikas on them (or even a symbol on the turret) but i like to think the exaggerated use of the symbol as efficient, quick conveyance of information rather than laziness. ;) plus all i got were a couple pages so it helps to show “these are Nazis” to any non-experts who might mistake the unmarked tank or the soldiers for Allies, and the swastika is instantly recognizable.

    i think there’s also the fantasy factor, like if you were critiquing a realistic historical war comic, then you’d have something, but this is about a demon goddess fighting World War II single-handedly, so i think having that mixed with complete historical accuracy would be kind of disrespectful. i’d rather have more cartoony Indiana Jones Nazis with a veneer of reality than anything else.

  12. @James Coville – I get what you’re saying, but I still don’t see that as a need for censorship. There are Neo Nazis all over the place, including right here in liberal Northern California and my guess is they will continue to exist with or without that symbol.

  13. It’s more than just swastikas that are banned there. I work in video games, and there are a whole host of things that are not allowed to appear in games. No red blood (it’s usually changed green), no killing of innocent people, no lynchings or hangings, etc. The list is really pretty long.

  14. Mario Boon says:

    I guess you have to be German to understand why they wouldn’t want to see a swastika again

  15. “I don’t read PIGS, but I’d be willing to guess that it would fall under the exception regarding art (meaning, I don’t think it looks like a Pro-Nazi comic).”

    Well, I can certainly see why people aren’t counting on it. The reality is, it rarely happens that anyone takes offense at Nazi symbols in a fictional context. But it’s happened. And when it does, the commercial damage is substantial.

    So it’s understandable if publishers or distributors avoid the potential hassle from the get-go, just to be on the safe side.

  16. Lars Sudmann says:

    It’s a “better safe than sorry” approach most of the times. It’s not forbidden or unlawful to show swastikas or other images associated with the Nazis, it always has to seen in context. So a couple of years ago there was a trial regarding the use of Swastikas by Anti-Nazi Groups in Germany. The Swastika was used on white ground and was crossed out. It was a symbol against Nazis and after the trial it was said that they can still use the image.

    Heck, there are literally dozens of TV programs each week dealing with that particular period of time and they show plenty of swastika. But then the context is a historical one and therefore they are shown. You can roghly divide it like this: if they’re used in entertainment media, there is a chance that the symbols get censored or forbidden, even more if it glorifies Nazis. It’s allowed in a historical, factual and teaching and absolutely forbidden if used in a political context i.e. for your party flag.

    I got some comics from france here, telling a story during Nazi occupied France for example and it uses Swastikas but not excessive and in a historical context, so it’s not censored. Example?

    http://www.schreiberundleser.de/images/sl_unterdemhakenkreuz/leseprobe338-1.jpg

  17. German publishers publishes in fact a lot of Comics with Swastikas in it or on the cover.

    There is, of course, “Maus”, now in it’s umphtenth reedition, with the artwork completely untouched. The complete edition sold about 50.000 times.

    There is Emile Bravos “Spirou”, which was nominated for the Sondermann, the Comic-Award of the Frankfurt Bookfair (it’s a Sales-Award, not a Jury-Award), Artwork completely unchanged.

    “Preacher” remained untouched, ten years ago during it’s first publication in germany as well as in the recent Hardcover-edition.

    Just to name a few popular. I could go on with this.

    IF there are ever any problems with the depiction of Nazis in comics in Germany, it’s almost always because of the way, they are depicted, not because of some swastikas. It’s about if you belittle the Third Reich, not if you do so with swastikas. And even if you belittle the Third Reich, you almost never face some legal consequence, but just have to deal with a negative public debatte.

    But, yes, it happens, but it happens very very rare.

    And all that aside, the world would be a better place with less Nazi-Covers and more “Wet Moon”.

  18. Snikt Snakt says:

    “It’s more than just swastikas that are banned there. I work in video games, and there are a whole host of things that are not allowed to appear in games. No red blood (it’s usually changed green), no killing of innocent people, no lynchings or hangings, etc. The list is really pretty long.”

    I find that surprising/ironic, coming from a country responsible for TWO World Wars that did these same things time and time again…

  19. Dave Elliott says:

    I think the case is more Diamond making sure they don’t run into any problems with Previews there and just won’t take a risk. That is how corporate lawyers operate as well, why even take the risk? We had the same problem with satire when we published Mister Monster fighting Nazi from Mars.

  20. Mario Boon says:

    @Stefan: there definitely was another Spirou BD by Schwantz where the cover had to be redrawn because of the swastika on it.

  21. I can understand why Germans (or people in general) might not want to see Nazi imagery. I can see why Germany would ban it from public places, public demonstrations, etc. I don’t see how banning the use of such imagery in entertainment weakens modern day nazi movements. I’ve seen loads of comics, movies, etc. that use nazi imagery, and they all use it as a shorthand for evil. (In fact, 60+ years on, using that imagery as a shorthand for “super evil” has become cliched and boring.) And I doubt that censorship dissuades neo-nazis from admiring those images, or using them in their own illicit propaganda.

  22. @Mario: You mean the Spirou-Special by Schwartz & Yann. Yes, while there was a new Cover, the Artwork itself remained unchanged, with the first of many swastikas on page 3 and the original cover in the back of the book.

  23. In reading the entry on Wiks it is amazing that they are banning even the mirrored or inverted versions, so that means no graphic novels about Japan in the middle ages, or that Indus Valley around 2500b.c. graphic novel you were wanting to write, or those pesky American indians they can’t use their symbols in illustrated forms either. Amazing. Curious as to Japan and the ‘rising sun’. Does such a law exist there too.

  24. rinsmith says:

    @Tom: Not that I’m aware of. As for swastikas, you’ll find them all over, both Nazi and traditional Eastern types. They just don’t have the negative impact that they do in the West.

  25. @Tom: Please read before you post. The Freedom of Art from the german Base Law (i.e. the german Constitution) ranks higher than the Strafgesetzbuch. I’ve named some comics with Swastikas in it above. There is a difference between the use of a symbol for historical purposes or in the context of art and the public showing of a swastika.

    The public showing of swastikas is banned because noone want’s a new Reichsparteitag. This policy was part of the Denazification-Policy of the allied forces, so that law might as well have been an american idea.

  26. @rinsmith….yea, I just find it interesting that in trying to wipe out their own history, or just the fact they don’t want to be reminded of it, they are wiping out other histories too. And for me if I tell a WW2 story, I will tell it in my own way and with my own imagery and if it doesn’t get sold in Germany or Japan, well then it just won’t.
    I am actually surprised there isn’t something like this for Japan. Interesting for sure.

  27. @ Stefan….hey thanks for the insult, I do appreciate them while I am trying to learn something I didn’t know much about and am trying to learn about.

    Anyway I find it interesting and view it like our own Comics Code. I remember sending first stories to them as some of my first work was published approved by them where you couldn’t show corrupt cops or judges and blood was black and not red….like the green blood William Harms was talking about.

  28. It’s just that it’s not like that.

  29. Wow. A lot of misconception about the “censorship” of swastikas in Germany.
    Thanks to Stefan and Marc to try and shed some light on this.
    It has nothing to do with rewriting or forgetting history. Germany is pretty self aware about it’s past.

    If anything, I think it’s quite diminishing to use a swastika for shock value and as a visual shorthand for “bad guy”.

  30. Artiste says:

    well, it looks like the old witch hunt has begun again!

    will Diamond also fascisticly censor Mike Mignola’s endless stream of swastikas in his Hellboy series? And not to mention, in the latest issue of Baltimore features a main character who is none other than a young A. Hitler!

    Seems Diamond forgets how their feared Germans used to censor and burn books that they didnt approve of back in the third reich!

    Fascism is fascism

    I love to see DIamonds hypocrisy, especially when it involves this explosive sun symbol!

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