Draw and you'll go to jail': the fight to save comics from the censor
Date Written: 2016-09-25
Publisher: The Guardian
Year Published: 2016
Resource Type: Article
Cx Number: CX20605
From worried parents to policemen with built-in 'Satan detectors', underground comics have never lacked enemies. And for 30 years Neil Gaiman and his friends have fought back in the name of free speech.
In 1994, Mike Diana found himself in jail near his home in Largo, Florida. Sitting alongside rapists, muggers and murderers, he spent four days waiting to be sentenced after his conviction at Pinellas County court. His crime? Making comics.
Diana was just 25 when he became the first person in the US to be convicted of "artistic obscenity". The jury took 40 minutes to find him guilty on three counts: for publishing, distributing and advertising his comic series Boiled Angel.
Now based in New York, Diana remembers his time in jail clearly. “It was an empty cell with a metal bed, a bright light that stayed on all the time,” he says. “I got a baloney sandwich to eat and a cup of Kool-Aid … I had no idea what they were going to do to me.”