“What’s the difference between a Censor and a Serial Killer?
Neither can tell the difference between fantasy and reality!”
It was the 1990s, an era of stifling prohibition brought on by insidious political correctness. Our sci-fi horror comic Femosaur World had just been published by Eros Comix, an imprint of Fantagraphics, in the USA.
Eros wanted explicit sex and we wanted to do confronting horror and sci-fi, so we combined the two, thus Spore Whores was born: an extreme and grotesque abomination of outlandish proportions.
ErosComix published five of our comic book titles: Femosaur World, the Spore Whores trilogy and Kill of the Spyderwoman.
In early 1995, Eros sent us a package of complimentary copies of our comics Femosaur World and Spore Whores. On opening our Post Office box, instead of finding our package we found a letter from Australian Customs informing us that our package had been opened, and seized for containing potentially contentious material.
Now, we don’t have a problem with Customs trying to intercept weapons of mass destruction but we don’t think a bunch of comic books are going to bring about the downfall of civilization.
We rang up Customs to enquire about our package and were told that it was going to be sent to the Censorship Board to determine whether the contents constituted a Prohibited Import. We informed the officer that the artwork was produced here and therefore could not be classed as an import. The officer became confused, never having struck this situation before and deferred to her supervisor.
After much consideration, she phoned back and her response was that because the art was now in a different format, ie: a book printed overseas as opposed to the format we created it in, ie: original art, it was not exempt and would have to be sent to the Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC) for determination. As the creators we were entitled to receive complimentary copies of our own books for our own use so we wrote a letter to the Attorney-General seeking the right to import.
Seven weeks later we received a letter from the Chief Censor declaring that Femosaur World was Not Prohibited but Spores Whores was a Prohibited Import due to it containing “detailed and gratuitous depictions in pictorial form of acts of considerable violence or cruelty, or explicit and gratuitous depictions in pictorial form of sexual violence against non-consenting persons.”
We’re talking about a comic book full of cartoony drawings; it’s not a “snuff” movie.
We were, however, given permission to obtain our personal copies so we picked up our package from Customs. Inside, the copy of Spore Whores that had obviously been sent to the OFLC was well thumbed, battered and dog-eared with stains on the cover.
Being deemed a Prohibited Import meant that Spore Whores #1 was effectively Banned in Australia. Spore Whores #2 and Spore Whores #3 suffered the same fate. The OFLC operates secretly behind closed doors and the banning was never widely publicized, if at all. As there was no knowledge of the banning all three issues of Spore Whores remained on sale in various comic book specialty stores for some time afterwards.
Even today, the censorship mentality still reigns supreme. There are extremely few, if any, publishers, large or small, that we are aware of in Australia prepared to publish genuine horror and sci-fi in written and/or pictorial form, that’s edgy, challenging and innovative. Unfortunately, horror and sci-fi has been diluted to boring relationships and soap opera. Many publishers, in a bid to avoid the so-called horror and sci-fi clichés have instead embraced mediocrity and romance clichés, promoting lame politically correct melodramas. This is an anathema to the genre. "If it ain't horrific, it ain't horror!" There are many extremely talented people here but they are largely ignored by the mainstream.