From DIY underground comix scene to mainstream acceptance, “No Straight Lines” on INDEPENDENT LENS, Jan. 23 at 10 pm

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JANUARY 23, 2023 at 10 pm

The Documentary Follows the Evolution of LGBTQ+ Representation in Comics, Featuring Interviews with Alison Bechdel and Other Pioneers of Underground Newspapers and
Queer Comics

From Peabody Awardwinning filmmaker Vivian Kleiman (Color Adjustment”) comes an indepth look at the evolution of queer comics, starting in the 1970s when LGBTQ+ stories were
not in popular culture. Through the careers of five scrappy and pioneering cartoonists who depicted everything from the AIDS crisis to “coming out” to samesex marriage, “No Straight Lines” captures the beginnings of queer comics, from its origins as an underground art form to its progression into a social movement, culminating with its longawaited mainstream acceptance
into comic books, newspaper strips, and graphic novels.
Headshot Vivian Kleiman, Director of No Straight Lines
Director/Producer Vivian Kleiman is a Peabody Award-winning filmmaker and a Fleishhacker Eureka Fellowship artist.

Heralded as “enjoyable, “informative,” and “quietly powerful” by the Los Angeles Times, and “entertaining and enlightening” by CBS News, No Straight Lines” makes its television debut on PBS’s Emmy Awardwinning documentary anthology series INDEPENDENT LENS on January 23, 2023, at 10:00 p.m. ET. The film will also be available to stream on the PBS Video

Alison Bechdel with BG wall of her comics
SIGNATURE PHOTO of Alison Bechdel with BG wall of her comics
Credit: M. Sharkey

When Alison Bechdel received a coveted John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation fellowship, known as the MacArthur “Genius Grant,” in 2014 for her bestselling graphic memoir “Fun Home,” also the inspiration for the Tony Award®winning Broadway show of the same name, it signaled the acceptance of LGBTQ+ comics in mainstream American culture. However, that moment was, in reality, the culmination of a community’s decadeslong history of tackling complex issues through a grassroots artistic movement.

No Straight Lines” features interviews with five queer comic book artists, including Bechdel, Jennifer Camper (“Rude Girls and Dangerous Women”), Howard Cruse (“WENDEL,” “Stuck Rubber Baby”), Rupert Kinnard (“B.B. and the Diva, Cathartic Comics), and Mary Wings (“Come Out Comix). These pioneering queer artists use comics as a tool for social change and queer acceptance. They brought the queer experience to life in a changing world, showcasing the everyday pursuits of love, sex, and community through a humorous and artful lens, and pushing what was once a marginalized underground scene into the mainstream.

“‘No Straight Lines’ is the story of a DIY art formoften considered junk food for kidsthat over the past 50 years has been used by queer artists as a powerful medium to represent our lives,” said Kleiman. “More than a chronology of milestone events, I wanted to create an intergenerational story of our emergence from rejection to acceptance, and help LGBTQI youth feel safe.

In the documentary, artist interviews alongside their work, are interwoven with stories of landmark moments in LGBTQ+ historyfrom the Stonewall Riots to the AIDS epidemic and more. Taken together, it’s the story of how the queer comics scene shed light on the experiences of generations in a community previously underrepresented in the media and popular culture.
Visit the No Straight Lines page on INDEPENDENT LENS to learn more about the film.