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Savoy comics seized—then released

Another battle in the Savoy Wars has been unexpectedly won. The latest seizure, by the South London & Thames Collection of HM Customs, took place in April and involved Savoy's currently running Lord Horror title, Reverbstorm, a series that had, until now, evaded official attention.

Michael Butterworth: 'It was only our second win, and it didn't even get to court, but it may be as significant as the Lord Horror case in 1992 when we got the ban on the novel overturned at appeal. At that time it reminded magistrates that you cannot go against novels. In the present case our comics have been cleared—we believe because of their artistic qualities—which should set a favourable precedent for like-minded publishers.'

The comics were on their way back into the country from Big Planet Comics, Vienna, USA. Jayde Design, London distributor of Savoy, were served with a notice of seizure and given 28 days to respond or face the destruction of the titles.

Customs notification described the comics as follows: "...those entitled 'Reverbstorm 1', 'Reverbstorm 2', 'Reverbstorm 4' and 'Reverbstorm 6' were variously found to contain graphic and explicit depictions of intercourse, cunnilingus, fellatio, urination, fisting (sic), and mutilated corpses." Specialist publishing and libertarian solicitors Stephens Innocent, allied to Geoffrey Robertson QC who led the Lord Horror case, were hired to contest their summary destruction.

Butterworth: 'The next thing we knew was that our comics had been released. Since the problems Knockabout had in 1996 re-importing Robert Crumb's My Trouble With Women, Customs must have employed someone with aesthetic savvy to judge such products. In June we received a reluctantly apologetic letter from the officer responsible, who said that he still thought the comics were obscene, but he had been ordered by his superiors to release them!'

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