Oni Press, in partnership with the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF), has announced the  return of the CBLDF’s San Diego Comic-Con Welcome Party. The event will be held at the Westgate Hotel on Thursday, July 25, 2024, from 8 PM to 12 AM.

The CBLDF is a nonprofit organization that works to protect the legal rights of the comics community. Founded in 1986, the CBLDF has defended attempts to arrest comic retailers and creators, fights legislation attempts to restrict access to comics, and protect comics and graphic novels from being removed from schools.

The party coincides with Oni’s Epitaphs from the Abyss #1, the first new EC comic in nearly 70 years, which celebrates EC publisher William M. Gaines’ work and legacy. The event celebrating the defense of free speech is co-sponsored by CGC, Kickstarter, The Nacelle Company, Mutant, and Maestro Media.

“In 1954, US Senate hearings aimed at censoring comics led to the creation of the Comics Code – and with it, the demise of the pathbreaking EC Comics line,” CBLDF Interim Director Jeff Trexler said. “Seventy years later, the launch of new EC titles is a powerful reminder that despite the occasional setbacks, creative expression will always prevail. Our deepest thanks to Oni Press, CGC, Kickstarter, The Nacelle Company, MUTANT, Maestro Media, and of course, our invaluable CBLDF members and the entire fandom community for making it possible for us to help defend the medium we all love.” 

“Few things cast a longer shadow on the history of our industry than the untimely and unjust demise of the legendary EC Comics at the hands of pro-censorship forces,” Oni Press President & Publisher Hunter Gorinson said. “So there is some small measure of justice in celebrating a new chapter for one of the most celebrated and influential publishing houses in American history alongside the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, who were created in part to prevent similar wrongs from ever recurring. As the CBLDF credo reads, [EC Publisher] ‘Bill Gaines Was Right,’ and we’re indebted to our incredible cast of co-sponsors for defending the right to free expression and creative liberty for the American art form Gaines and EC Comics helped to define – doubly so at this pivotal and precarious moment in the cultural landscape that carries so many echoes of the past.”

The sponsors – all companies who focus on comics, toys, games, and collectibles – will donate limited edition SDCC collectibles and promotional giveaways for the CBLDF Welcome Party gift bags. They will be free to the first 100 attendees who donate $20 or more to the CBLDF. Oni Press will also offer Biker Mice from Mars #1 CGC 9.8 with the return of The Nacelle Company’s animated characters, featuring the 1:50 variant cover by Francis Portela for donations of $150 or more. They will also have the Epitaphs from the Abyss #1 CGC 9.8 with the 1:100 variant cover by Dustin Weaver showcasing the three new horror hosts, for donations of $250 or more.

The party is free to all CBLDF members and just $20 for the general public (an SDCC badge is not required to attend). There will be a silent art auction with comics and other collectibles donated by contributors from the comics medium and related entertainment. Mutant co-founders Mo Shafeek and Spencer Hickman will DJ sets through the party.