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Sex, Violence and Catholicism
Revista Umělec
Año 2004, 3
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Sex, Violence and Catholicism

Revista Umělec 2004/3


Breuk Iversen | blasphemy | en cs

It is the task of an artist to wake sleeping minds, who often condemn those around them, unwittingly, by judging first and understanding second.
A prolific comic book artist, named Mike Diana, is one of those artists. He is the first illustrator in Americas history to get arrested and convicted for his drawings. He is gentle, thoughtful and as considerate as you would want a person to be.

At Cheers Thai Restaurant in Williamsburg

M.D.: What kind of tea do you have?

Waitress: Thai Iced Tea.

You have to ask for water nowadays at the restaurants. They don’t just automatically bring it. They get ya, they get ya good. That’s how they screw you.

How long have you been been doing comics?

Since I was about seven or eight years old. I was influenced by Sunday newspaper comics like, the Peanuts. I liked the colors. My dad would buy me comics like Swamp Thing. So I started drawing my own. In high school, I used to draw comics about my teachers and people we didn’t like. So I made these friends on the wrestling team so nobody picked on me because I knew the wrestlers. They’d ask me “So where’s the latest comic.” I’d spend an hour or two hours making it and they’d read it and say “That’s good, get drawing and make another one.”
My first comics that, I drew that were published, were in 1988, when I was 18. Me and my friend made up our own zine called ‘Hvuyim’ (“Have you why I am”). Then I started Angel Fuck in 1988 and then Boiled Angel.

I read you changed the name to Boiled Angel because of the post office?

No, there weren’t any problems with that. I wanted to make a digest-sized magazine instead. I did three issues of Angel Fuck and then changed it to Boiled Angel because of some of the ads. They would make me write F**K instead and I wanted a name that people wouldn’t be afraid to say. Then I started Boiled Angel, numer one, and it went up to eight issues.
In between, I did Slaughterhouse, in 1989. I don’t even have a copy of it anymore. I gave them all away and, of course, a lot of my stuff got damaged by termites at one place I was staying. I had boxes and boxes of zines that I had contributed to. I wanted to keep them as a collection. Yeah, they screwed me out of it.

Who did?

Termites. You know, termite shit, not only holes in it, but, shit and liquid... it happens.

Where were you born?

Geneva, New York. I lived there until I was 9 and then we moved to Largo, Florida. Crazyland.

And you stayed there until?

Well I was there all through my prosecution until 1996.

In Largo, Florida what were you prosecuted for?

Three counts of obscenity: publishing, distributing, and advertising, obscene material. Yeah, it was nuts. My lawyer was trying to get the last charge dropped (advertising).What they were calling advertising was because of #7’s, editor’s letter, (in Boiled Angel), I mentioned, you should be on the lookout for issue #ate, coming soon. So there was controversy about that, my lawyer was trying to get that charge dropped. Yeah, but they screwed me. They wouldn’t drop it. They give you the screw job.

So what happened?

The way they found out about me was issue #6. These two detectives showed up at my mom’s house. Me and my grandmother had come back from Christmas shopping. Two undercover agents were waiting for us when we got there. Well, they said “You’ve been charged as a suspect in the Gainsville students murders.” There were five students murdered and they hadn’t found out who the killer was yet. Gainsville is about five or six hours away from where I was. So they started showing my mother a copy of Boiled Angel #6.

Your mom didn’t know that you were doing that?

Well she knew, but her reaction was that she had thought I had stopped doing it. They said “You’re a suspect and will have to come down and give us a blood sample for DNA blood testing to clear your name.” It was a really bloody murder and they put a head on a shelf. I should have got a lawyer back then. She went with me the next day to give blood and they started asking me about the contributors list in the Boiled Angel issue. They wanted addresses and all the names of people in the book. I didn’t want to answer any of the questions about it and they just took my blood. That was the last I’d heard about it. That’s how I got screwed again.
One of those officers saw me a couple of years later at the post office mailing copies of Boiled Angel. He said that he saw my name and address and remembered that they approached me before. He decided to see if I was still publishing. I got a letter in the mail from somebody calling themselves, Mike Flore, and said that the had just moved in the area from Ft. Lauderdale. I had never had any fans in Largo before, so I thought it was interesting but also strange.
He ended up sending a total of ten letters saying that he wasn’t a police officer and all this other stuff. I realized his (P.O.) box was right across from mine. So I said maybe we should just meet up sometime but, he always came up with excuses. So I ended up sending the books along with my videos. He bought all this stuff from me. Two years went by and that’s when I got the summons, in 1993, to show up in court.
Before my trial, Danny Rolling was arrested and pleaded guilty to the Gainsville murders. Even though he confessed, they still brought it up in court that I was a suspect in the murders. Stewart Baggish (the prosecuting attorney) went on to say that serial murderers get started by reading Boiled Angel and the next day they start to kill people.
After the jury deliberated, while we were waiting for the sentencing, I met with one of the jurors and he said that he believed that the whole serial killing thing is what convinced the jury.

In 1994, underground cartoonist Mike Diana was thrown in jail for 4 days without bail on obscenity charges, for publishing, advertising, and selling his zine BOILED ANGEL. Mike was on probation for 3 years, terms of which included fines of $3000, no contact with children under 18 (or within 10 feet of a minor), 1280 hours of community service, maintain full time employment, and at his own expense, see a psychiatrist and take journalism courses; AND no drawing for his own personal use... his home was subject to unannounced searches by local police to make sure he was complying. Mike Diana is now serving another 2 years of probation, including $2000 in fines, and the same probationary terms.
On June 4, 1996, a ruling issued by Largo, Florida, Circuit Judge Douglas Baird declared Mike Diana’s zines, Boiled Angel #7 and #ATE as obscene. The judge emphasized throughout Mi-ke’s ruling that he personally found Diana’s comics “patently offensive.” Referring to Diana as “the appellant,” and stated, “The evident goal of the appellant’s publication is to portray shocking and graphic pictures of sexual conduct so it will be noticed. If the message is about victimization and that horrible things are happening in our society, as the appellant alleges, the appellant SHOULD HAVE created a vehicle to send his message that was not obscene.”

Your illustrations seem to be about releasing devils or are you depicting what you see?

Well, I think it’s a combination. Some of my earlier Boiled Angel things were anti-religious. I felt that was because I was forced to go to church, since I was young, ever since I can remember, until I was about 15. When I finally just stopped going. My father didn’t really try to force me anymore at that point. I felt I had to get all of the forced religion (Roman Catholic) out of my system.
The bible is very violent so you’d hear stories. This one Sunday school teacher I had would actually start crying to tears when she explained how Jesus suffered. Saying that they would pull his beard hairs out and rub salt in his wounds. Crazy torture. It was almost like she was getting off on it. She’d start crying like she really enjoyed feeling that way.
We used to have Sunday school textbooks and I’d deface the drawings and put horns on angels. It was a good influence, actually, and I felt very repressed. Then I’d see on T.V. about priests molesting children and even killing children. So I started drawing those things. I thought they would make good stories too. I hadn’t seen anything about it in underground comics that I would get at that time.

I think it funny that you moved too Williamsburg right when these things are happening in the news.

Well, its been happening. I don’t know why it took so long to get it out in the open. It just becomes the next big story and eventually people just forget about it. They’ll still be cases going on, it’s just that no one will hear about them. Like rapists who are doctors, you hear a lot of women won’t come forward until some have come forward, publically. They hear about it on the news and twenty women come forward. It happens.

Do you know anybody that this has
happened to?

One of the contributors to Boiled Angel who called himself, Mr. Ed. He would do this zine called “Raised by Wolves.” It was kind of his own therapy because he was sexually abused when he was a child. So he would always draw these comics and writings about child abuse and cutting his father’s dick off. He was going to therapy and they told him it was a good outlet to draw these things.
That was one of the pieces they brought up in court saying that his drawings were so obscene that it would make people into child molesters. I knew it was like therapy. I’ve seen psychiatry books with children who are abused do drawing to communicate these things. There are so many levels. We actually brought those types of things in as evidence to court but, the judge wouldn’t allow any of it as evidence. Basically, the judge has the say so of what stuff is brought in. That’s how they screw you.
We had comic books, a whole stack of them with comments that we wanted to show to the jury. They put the Boiled Angel in front of them and these people had no idea of the comic world. So they’re thinking ‘here’s some kid just trying to be a troublemaker’. They don’t know about the art side of it. So they wouldn’t let us add this stuff as evidence either. Which is another way they railroad you. It all part of the system. The screw system. You can’t win.

It was on the news everyday. Comic Book Legal Defense Fund sent a la-wyer to defend Mike Diana. American Civil Liberties Union became interested only after his conviction – when it was a high-profile case. The first illustrator in this country to be convicted for his drawings.


So at my court date we set up a table, passing out flyers outside the court house, and we baked a cake the night before. The First Amendment cake. In red letters we wrote ‘Keep Free Speech’ on the cake. We cut up pieces and gave them to people. Then the protesters showed up, Women Opposing Pornography and they made copies of Boiled Angel which were on public display in the courthouse. That’s where the TV stations got hold of it too. So Florida was exposing people to my comics more than I ever could have.

I’ve noticed that your comics are based on things that people have been known to do. A slice of life.
I’ve always thought that the truth is stranger. I get a lot of ideas from the news and newspapers.
Like the Lorraine Bobbit case?

Uh Hum. Well, I’ve always wondered why the Lorraine Bobbit thing doesn’t happen more often. It never caught on. It seems like once a month you can hear about a guy getting his dick hacked off. Is it happening and you just don’t hear about it or people don’t talk about it? I wonder. If you think about all the things that happen that doesn’t get on the news. People dying everyday and weird suicides, weird murders and everyday crazies.

If they did that, nobody would advertise with them.

Oh yeah. That’s true. TV is crazy.

When Mike’s case was on the news, the network repeatedly showed body bags entering the ambulance from the Gainsville murders, some of his comics, updates in the developing court case and finally him entering the paddy wagon with handcuffs on the way to jail.

So you never murdered anyone?

Ummmm, no, not yet. ha ha ha. Well, you always hear about the revolving door justice. One guy, this rapist, raped this twelve year old girl. Cut both her arms off and raped her, did ten years and on good behavior, he got out. Everybody was outraged. How could he get out of jail after what he did? The way the probation he was on, was, if he gets in any trouble, he could go back to jail for ten more years. Sure enough, the guy tries to shoplift a camera the day after his release. So, you know.

Your comics depict Sex, Violence, and Catholicism.

Ha Ha Ha, I always thought they made a good mix. Kind of like the Bible itself. In the Bible, you have the religion part, the prostitution, violence, and crucifixions.

The case has made Mike Diana known worldwide. In 1999, Mike played Jesus Christ in a highly respected six week long performance show in Sweden called “Jesus Odd Size” with 13 other performers (disciples). In 2001, he did the same performance in Copenhagen, Denmark in a church that was converted into an art center. Mike’s piece consisted of him drawing outside of a box which they called ‘the confessional’. The confessional had a computer where people would confess their sins by computer.

Now he’s selling of his comics (Boiled Angel #7 and #ate) on Bedford (bet. N6 & N5) where he’s also entertaining pedestrians with live puppet shows on weekends throughout the summer.

Mike’s work is online at testicle. com

Originally published in 11211 Magazine


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