Wonder Woman's comic book role as an ambassador for peace and equality to the whole world is becoming more literal than would have seemed possible, as she has been named an honorary ambassador by the United Nations.
Twenty years ago, close to 50000 activists met for the Fourth World Conference of Women in Beijing, where almost 200 Governments established 12 areas of critical concern regarding women's rights --- the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. Considered one of the most progressive declarations for women's rights at the time, the 1995 Beijing Declaration still remains... well, an aspirational goal rather than something we all just got on with and achieved.
This week, in line with the twentieth anniversary of the Declaration, UN Women and the European Commission have joined forces to hold a cartoon/comic competition around the theme of gender equality. Called 'Gender Equality: Picture It!', the competition invites artists from across the EU --- and across the EU only, with apologies to everybody else --- to submit comics and cartoons inspired by the Beijing Declaration. Entrants must be aged between 18-28, and no text is allowed within the final piece.
When people think of the backlash against comics in the 1950s, one name often springs to mind: Fredric Wertham, the author of the 1954 book Seduction of the Innocent, which linked comic book reading to illiteracy, sexual deviancy (by his definition), violence and drug use.
While Wertham's book was certainly a catalyst for a lot of changes and censorship in comics, it wasn't the first domino that fell toward the development of the stringent Comics Code Authority. Criticism of comics had been growing to a fever pitch for years before that, and io9 has uncovered one example that came a full two years before the publication of Seduction of the Innocent: a full-on United Nations condemnation of Superman. And guess what: It isn't entirely wrong.
Creators: Swallow Me Whole and Any Empire creator Nate Powell joined a host of young adult fiction authors for an appearance at the United Nations last week to help raise funds for young refugees from war-torn Darfur...