Banned Books: Adult Graphic Novels

Banned Books Week is October 1-7. As CLP celebrates the right to read, check out the below is a list of adult graphic novel titles that have been challenged, banned, or censored over the past few years.  

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Blankets: An Illustrated Novel

Blankets is, in many ways, the story of a first love—it depicts a teenage Thompson meeting a friend at church camp, corresponding with her, and then traveling to visit her for two weeks in her snow-covered Michigan hometown. This sweet and redemptive love story is interwoven with darker memories from Thompson’s childhood and adolescence, including years of bullying from his peers. Both in the snowy landscapes that dominate Blankets and the story Thompson tells, the reader is faced with visions of purity and the things that tarnish it.

Why it was banned: The illustrations in Thompson’s semiautobiographical graphic novel were compared to pornography. 

Gender Queer

Started as a way to explain to eir family what it means to be nonbinary and asexual, Gender Queer is more than a personal story: it is a useful and touching guide on gender identity–what it means and how to think about it–for advocates, friends, and humans everywhere.

Why it was banned: Maia Kobabe’s graphic memoir hits on many of the common reasons for current book bannings, namely LGBTQ+ content and sexual imagery. Gender Queer has been the most commonly banned book since it was published in 2019.

This title is also available for checkout as an eBook on Libby or as an eBook on Hoopla. 

The Handmaid's Tale

The graphic novel adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s classic novel. Atwood imagines a near-future dystopia, as the United States has become the Republic of Gilead, a repressive society where women are forced to carry the children of powerful men and live without autonomy. 

Why it was banned: Banned in conjunction with the original novel, this graphic novel adaptation brings the novel’s themes of sexual violence and social upheaval into full color illustrations.

This title is also available for checkout as an eBook on Libby.

Maus: A Survivor's Tale

Art Spiegelman won the Pulitzer Prize in 1992 for his two-volume comic Maus, which depicts the very personal story of his parents’ survival amid the horrors of the Holocaust. 

Why it was banned: The depiction of a naked character, along with swear words, caused a Tennessee school board to ban this award-winning graphic novel. 


Neonomicon follows two FBI agents investigating a bizarre series of murders. They uncover a frightening subculture of Lovecraft-inspired horror.

Why it was banned: Neonomicon was also labeled as “pornographic” in its imagery. 

Saga, Volume 1

When two soldiers from opposite sides of a never-ending galactic war fall in love, they risk everything to bring a fragile new life into a dangerous old universe. 

Why it was banned: Saga was also judged as sexually explicit, including a gay sex scene in one volume.

This title is also available for checkout as an eBook on Libby or as an eBook on Hoopla. 

Sandman, Volume 1: Preludes & Nocturnes

Neil Gaiman’s seminal graphic novel series starter imagines a world where a wizard, attempting to bargain with Death for eternal life, accidentally traps Death’s younger brother Dream instead. Once Dream escapes, he begins a quest for his lost objects of power.

Why it was banned: Gaiman’s graphic novel has been challenged and removed from some libraries because of “anti-family themes,” “offensive language,” and for being “unsuited for age group.” 

This title is also available for checkout as an eBook on Libby or as an eBook on Hoopla.