By Ian Dunt
The coroners bill is on its way to the Lords. In it is a clause outlawing non-photographic sexual images of children. It's ostensibly to crack down on paedophile animation, primarily from Japan. But the mainstream comics community is concerned normal comics will be negatively affected.
Adam Grose, creator of Cosmogenesis and The Prison and Other Tales and author of website clownpress.com, shares that discomfort.
"When I heard the word 'extreme', my ears pricked up and I thought, 'are any of my stories going to come up in that bill?'" he says.
"It needs some sort of clarification of what would come under it. It needs plain English and not such an open interpretation. Once it becomes law it's suddenly up to the police - although obviously the CPS make a judgment on it. But unless you know where you're standing you've got be very careful."
Comic writers, artists and publishers will be watching carefully to see the first prosecution under the law for signs of how strictly enforced it will be, rather than trusting Ministry of Justice assurance that it will only apply to paedophilic cartoons and animation. But already comic experts are scouring some of the medium's seminal texts for passages which could fall foul of the law.
"It really hit me when they mention books by Alan Moore [the godfather of modern mature-themed comics] like The Lost Girls or Watchmen," Grose continues.
"People have even talked about how Judge Dredd might be affected. It's highly unlikely, but then it might affect what editors will accept."
What happens in 2000AD - the comic which features Judge Dredd - is pivotal to the British comic industry. As the primary talent-finder within the UK, most internationally successful, British comic creators were originally picked up by the weekly magazine. Any freezing effect from the editors there could have significant repercussions on the industry as a whole.
"That's the sort of thing that makes me weary against this bill - because it does seem unclear, to the point that it could infringe on the way people create," Grose continues. "It's the thought police aspect. It could stifle people's creativity."