By Pang Xue Qiang
The Media Development Authority’s decision to remove Archie: The Married Life Volume 3 from sale has come under fire from more groups – including the American publisher of Archie Comics, who said they disagree with it.
“Obviously, we do not agree with Singapore’s decision to ban such a key book in our publishing catalog.
“Archie: The Married Life V3 is a milestone issue featuring the first gay marriage in comic book history. We stand by that story now as we did when we published it,” said Alex Segura, Senior Vice President of Publicity and Marketing at Archie Comics.
The publishing house is currently based in New York.
Segura was unable to comment further, but added that:
“Riverdale will always be about acceptance, equality and safety. I’m sad readers in Singapore will miss out on the chance to read such a pivotal moment in comics.”
Segura is not alone, though. Comic fans here are disappointed with MDA’s decision.
“To ban something as iconic as Archie is just sad,” said David Yao, 39.
Yao, who is a brand product manager, is part of the admin team of the Singapore Comics Kaki.
The club – the only community of its kind in Singapore – was started for the local love of comic books. It has more than 600 active members on Facebook.
“Comic books reflect time and culture. Right now other countries are opening up to gay marriages – USA, Taiwan and others. More and more countries will follow and sooner or later MDA will have to change their minds. But this just proves that Singapore is still a long distance away,” said Yao.
He added that the ban is a sign of a country not keeping up with time because of the government’s unchanging attitudes.
“It is more than just an LGBT issue. Is the MDA or the government going to decide what is not good for the public and ban any one who is different, react or do things different from the normal?”
Suppliers of comic books in Singapore are also upset about the ban.
“It is…stupid. I am so angry. We are trying to teach our children to be accepting. If you withdraw this, what message are we sending to our kids?” said Bill Teoh, 80, owner of Comics World bookstore.
Comics World – located in Selegie, is one of the few remaining comic stores left in Singapore.
“Why must we discriminate against alternative lifestyles like the LGBT? We should be more tolerant, not less tolerant,” he added.
While MDA’s clampdown on the publication has gained attention from international media like TIME, some see this as a bad reflection on the country.
“It makes Singapore look like a nanny state in the eyes of the international press.
“Think about it: the number one thing people know about Singapore is that we ban gum. Do you really want people to know Singapore because of that? Now Archie makes the list. A lot of my friends in USA and in other countries are already laughing,” said Yao.
“You cannot talk about equality for all if you start banning stuff. Freedom of thought and creativity is what we want,” he added.