Banned Book Club: Ice Haven

Title: Ice Haven

Published: 2001

Author: Daniel Clowes

Challenge status: Included on the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund‘s list of case studies. Book #17 on Summer of Banned Books ’13.

Why: The case study refers to a Connecticut case wherein a parent of a student (a high-school freshman who selected the book to read for a class project from a number of options in the classroom library) filed complaints with both the school and the police, describing the book as pornographic and making allegations against the teacher for making the book available to students (suggested predatory motives). The teacher resigned. No charges were filed.

First line: “It’s not as cold here as it sounds.”


Ice Haven is a funny little book (funny strange more so than funny ha ha), it is a series of short comics that are vaguely related, occurring around the same time in the same town. The main unifying influence is that a local boy goes missing; a few of the characters are directly involved or interested in his disappearance. Other than that what connects the comics is that the characters are profoundly disconnected (socially) and seem to be very lonely.

If the art style seems familiar, it is probably because Clowes also wrote “Ghost World“, which became fairly popular especially when it was turned into a movie (starring Thora, Scarlett, and Steve Buscemi). I like the Leopold & Loeb tie-in, and the appearance of the nerdy but informative comic book critic (Clowes decides to forego subtlety and write-in a character to break down the fourth wall in defense of comic books and the narrative style of the book.

What do you think?

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