Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

October 18, 2016

By Request Extra: The Trial Of Mike Diana

imageThis is an important subject. That means we should pay attention to it but that also means we should be tough on what we're seeing. I'm happy to drive attention to it. I'm hopeful. It looks of a high quality, with a respectful attitude towards the source material. I'm glad Gaiman talked to them -- that should ground it in the world more than anything else they could do. I'm a little surprised that Eric Reynolds isn't listed as an industry expert as he wrote like 75,000 words on Mike Diana. That's kind of like doing a Gary Gilmore documentary without bothering to talk to Norman Mailer. But maybe they did interview him or maybe they plan to. Maybe it doesn't matter.

The Mike Diana trial was an interesting event for comics. The legal consequences remain deeply troubling, and it's hard not to flash anger at a judge's order that someone not be able to draw in their home for their own enjoyment. Forget flashing anger; it's hard not to carry that one around with you for days at a time. That's just some scary dystopian sci-fi stuff right there. The Diana troubles in general was also the first time I saw that construction where a lot of people made sure to let everyone know they hated Diana's work every time they wrote about it in public. I always thought Diana's work was funny, too grotesque and over the top and thus disconnected from reality to be taken seriously as even offensive let alone obscene, and a lot of it particularly later on in that period looked pretty good. Superfly in particular I thought was well-cartooned. I find Josh Simmons' work routinely more terrifying and debased. Diana's work was like something a 15-year-old kid would draw in the back of study hall.

One thing that comes to mind is I hope they talk about Diana's interesting choices during and after the trial. I remember he released a video of himself masturbating with a crucifix; that seemed like an odd thing to do. A still intriguing element about the case is that it's easier for people to grasp the masturbation video as protected than it is the comics that preceded them.
posted 5:25 pm PST | Permalink

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