In March 2000, Australian Customs seized FROM HELL #7 (1995).
In October 2000, they also seized the FROM HELL: COLLECTED EDITION, of which issue seven was a part.
After much effort, Eddie Campbell, the Australian based comic book artist, eventually managed to get it cleared by the OFLC.
Australian Customs Blocks Import of From Hell
tcj.com, October 25, 2000
The award-winning 568-page graphic-novel meditation on the Jack the Ripper case by Campbell and writer Alan Moore first came to the attention of authorities in March when From Hell #7 was confiscated from an earlier shipment intended for Quality Comics and referred to the Office of Film and Literature Classification. The OFLC determined Oct. 3 that the work was not fit to be allowed in the country, and since issue #7 was included in the collection, customs officials applied the ban to that book, as well.
Campbell told the Journal, “The officers seemed a little taken aback when the author and publisher phoned from within the country. I told [customs officer Con Greenwood] that the book was highly regarded in America, England and six foreign languages and he replied, 'I don't care what goes on in the rest of the world; this is Australia.' And I'm sure he speaks for a great number."
Campbell said customs officer Nicole Moore had told him, "It was the image of the breast being cut off that offended her."
Moore declined to speak to the Journal, and Greenwood, her supervisor, asked not to be quoted. Greenwood refused to give his official title. Campbell said, "The Customs chappie said that if Mr. Dean [from the Journal] quoted him in print that I would find no good will there from here on."
From Hell Cleared Down Under
tcj.com, November 14, 2000
… From Hell has been cleared for importation in Campbell's home country of Australia as of Nov. 14. Based on the recommendations of Australia's Office of Film and Literature Classification, which had reviewed a copy of From Hell Volume 7, the Australian Customs Service had banned both Volume 7 and the collected edition from import. Two copies of the collected edition ordered by Quality Comics, a shop in Perth, were seized by Customs.
Campbell and Andrew Frith of Quality Comics requested that the collected From Hell be resubmitted for review as a complete work and reclassified on that basis. Campbell told the Journal, "Following my urging to take a look at the complete work and consider context, the OFLC have returned advice in only 15 days that the book is acceptable for importation."
In 2002, Eddie Campbell gave a talk at the University of Florida's Comics Conference. In it, he spoke about the problems that FROM HELL had with the Australian censors.
Comics on the Main Street of Culture
The book had been banned in Australia from importation. They banned a little slim edition and logically they thought they worked it out. Since the little slim one's contained in the big one, then the big one should be banned too. So they seized two copies of the big book coming in through customs in Australia in October, which is like six months after the little one. The little one gone to the Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC) and they sent them advice that the thing should not be allowed for importation. Not suitable for importation. I got the email from Diamond that there was this problem and since it was my neck of the woods, since it's my book, I probably wanted to do something about it. So I got on the phone to customs. They said, "There is nothing we can do. We've been given a ruling by the OFLC that the book is to be banned. The book is not to be imported."
So I phone up the OFLC: the Office of Film and Literature Classification. I talk to the OFLC and they says, "Oh no, we don't give a ruling, we just give advice. It's up to the customs what they do with it if they follow it or not." So I go back to customs and they say, "Oh no, it was a ruling." So I spoke to the papers. I was on the radio about this. I thought I might as well get some publicity out of it. And somewhere along the way it occurred to me that I'm not quite getting all this publicity. I've gone and wasted my time. There're no books for anybody to buy.
It lasted for two weeks. I finally came up with a solution. I contacted customs and I said, "Look, you banned the first book, and it is terrible, violent, it's hideous, it's horrible, it shouldn't be allowed, but within the context of the second book, the bigger book, it acquires a different meaning. Its significance is considerably altered." I don't think they completely understood. "All right," I said. "But you haven't submitted the big book. This is a different book. It is a six hundred-page book. You've got a banning on a forty-eight-page book. This one is a six hundred. You should resubmit. You should submit the big book to the OFLC." They wondered if I would stand by a ruling against the book if they resubmitted it. I said, "Yes." I lied. Anyway, the book went out to the OFLC. There's a committee of twelve members. It took them two days to decide the book was all right. Now had any of them read it in two days? They flipped through it and said, "Go away. Bugger off." So the book was cleared. I thought I'd got through them—so I had won.
The Australian Customs Service does not publicise the books and magazines that they confiscate. We have always found this to be very unfair to anyone who attempts to do the right thing, and check the status of a title before ordering.
In the period 1997 to 1998, customs submitted 447 items to the Classification Board; by 2006 to 2007, this was down to four items. In their 2003 to 2004 Annual Report, the Classification Board explained the reason for this huge drop.
At the request of the ACS, nine sessions were held for ACS officers in Adelaide, Brisbane, Darwin, Melbourne, and Sydney, resulting in 137 people being trained.
Officers were trained in applying Regulation 4A of the Prohibited Imports Regulations, and comparing this regulation, and the refused classification category of the National Classification Code.
The training enables ACS officers to make decisions about intercepted material and only refer items to the Board where there is need for advice.
The following list has been compiled in a number of ways. These include members of the public sending in details of their confiscations, forum posts, web sites etc. Please send in details of any confiscations you may have heard of.
This listing is not meant to encourage anyone to attempt to import a prohibited Item; it is more likely to act as a deterrent.
Please do not direct any questions about the workings of the ACS to this site. Question them directly.
We take no responsibility for errors in this list.
In 1995, issues #1, #2, and #3 of SPORE WHORES were found to be a 'Prohibited Import'.
In April 2012, customs confiscated fifteen MANGA-HENTAI COMIC BOOKS. The purchaser took the matter to court, which forced them to be submitted to the Classification Board. This case is covered in more detail in our Book and Magazine Censorship Database.
In March 2012, customs submitted three controversial Christian books about raising children. The Classification Board passed them with Unrestricted ratings.
Classification Board Annual Report 2013-2014
Three complaints were received about the classification of publications. These were about the book To Train up a Child which was classified on 16 March 2012 Unrestricted with consumer advice of ‘Mature—not recommended for readers under 15 years’.
The complainants were of the view that the book should be Refused Classification.
In June 2016, The Guardian Australia published an article on how the Australian Border Force has seized and destroyed copies of Dr Philip Nitschke's THE PEACEFUL PILL HANDBOOK.
See our Film Censorship Database for a list of list of movies, videos, and DVDS that have been confiscated by customs.
See our Games Censorship Database for a list of video and computer games that have been confiscated by customs.