New Exhibition to Feature Mike Diana – American Artist Jailed for Obscenity

Superchief Gallery in Queens, New York will host a solo exhibition by controversial American artist, Mike Diana.

On April 27th, 2018 the Superchief Gallery in Queens, New York will host a solo exhibition by controversial American artist, Mike Diana, the first American artist ever convicted of and jailed for obscenity.

Mike was just a teenager in 1990 when his underground, satirical comic, Boiled Angel, caught the attention of Florida law enforcement, leading to his 1994 conviction for publishing, advertising and distributing material deemed to be obscene by community standards. A violent, pornographic tongue in cheek gore fest, Boiled Angel began when 15-year-old Diana, a resident of Largo, Florida, discovered mail order underground comics. He began imitating them, combining sex and monsters with unpopular teachers at his school to entertain his classmates, ironically, copying the drawings on the Xerox machine at the police station where his mother worked.

Mike Diana Artwork

Image courtesy of mikedianacomix.com

To Diana, no subject was off limits, no matter how seemingly sick or bizarre. Diana's drawings depicted everything from bestiality to murder and rape. 'As a teenager, I used to watch the nightly news and there would be countless reports of rapes and murders', said Diana in a 2012 interview for VICE. 'I think that's what got me into drawing people in bad situations.'

By 1987, he had printed his first fanzine with the help of a print shop employee he was friends with. The 6th comic in his series may never have led to his conviction, if not for the murder spree taking place in Gainesville, Florida in 1990. After a customer sent a copy of the comic to Florida police, undercover officers purchased additional copies by mail.

In 1994, Daniel Harold Rolling was tried and convicted for the brutal murders of five University of Florida students, but not before the FBI investigated Mike Diana as a potential suspect. With the community on edge, and upset by the murders, Diana was viewed by some as a psychopath and his drawings were found offensive and of no artistic value. Diana spent 3 days in jail, got 3 years probation, was ordered to have a psychiatric evaluation, no contact with minors and to take a course in journalism ethics. He was also prohibited to draw anything, even for himself.

Mike Diana Artwork

Image courtesy of Superchief Gallery

By 2016, a Kickstarter campaign to fund a documentary by filmmaker Frank Henenlotter, raised USD $45,816, enough to also clear an outstanding warrant issued by the state of Florida when Diana left the state to serve the rest of his sentence in New York.

In 2017 Diana released the first reprints of his original series. BOILED ANGELS: THE TRIAL OF MIKE DIANA premiered on March 31st, 2018 at What The Fest!? at IFC Center in New York, New York. The documentary was one of 11 new international films screened at the event and winner of the Audience Award.

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