The recent box-office success of Wonder Woman and Black Panther are proof that audiences are hungry for more diverse stories from the comics. And while they have yet to conquer your local cineplex, there's a whole community of LGBTQ artists and writers that has been working tirelessly for decades to tell queer stories through the comics medium.
How it started
In 2012, cartoonist Justin Hall curated the anthology No Straight Lines: Four Decades of Queer Comics, which featured milestone contributions by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer comics creators.
Now, Justin's Lambda Literary Award-winning and Eisner-nominated collection is the inspiration for a documentary film directed by Peabody Award-winning and national Emmy-nominated filmmaker Vivian Kleiman. This feature-length film will bring stories from the comics off the page and give you a personal introduction to the dynamic artists and writers who paved the way.
We're in striking distance of completing filming on this documentary and we need your help to reach the finish line.
First, a little about us
WATCH THE TRAILER: nostraightlinesthefilm.com
Producer/Director VIVIAN KLEIMAN is a documentary filmmaker who has received the George Foster Peabody Award (TV’s top honor) and a national Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Individual Achievement. A short documentary that she Executive Produced was nominated for an Academy Award. Her longtime film partner was Marlon Riggs (Tongues Untied).
Co-Producer JUSTIN HALL is an Associate Professor of Comics at the California College of the Arts and a Fulbright Scholar. He's a pioneer historian of LGBTQ comics, curating major shows at the SF Cartoon Art Museum and Berlin's Schwules Museum as well as writing for academic presses such as the Cambridge University Press. He’s also a recognized artist in the field, with work appearing in the Houghton Miflin Best American Comics, SF Weekly, and Best Erotic Comics.
Cinematographer ANDY BLACK has worked on award-winning documentary films including: Scout’s Honor (Tom Shepard), 50 Children: The Rescue Mission of Mr. & Mrs. Kraus (Steven Pressman), Speaking in Tongues (Marcia Jarmel/Ken Schneider), and Sicko (Michael Moore). His work has been broadcast on MTV, BBC, PBS, Discovery Channel, and National Geographic Explorer.
Advisor Hillary Chute is an expert on comics and graphic narratives at Northeastern University. She is noted for her work with the legendary cartoonists Art Spiegelman and Alison Bechdel.
Advisor Ramzi Fawaz teaches queer theory and LGBTQ literature at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He is the author of The New Mutants: Superheroes and the Radical Imagination of American Comics.
Advisor Jenni Olson is a filmmaker, author, and LGBTQ film historian. Her film The Royal Road premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival.
We've made great progress
Thanks to the San Francisco Foundation, California Humanities, and the Berkeley Film Foundation (plus a few amazing, individual donors):
We filmed Alison Bechdel, creator of the award-winning Fun Home and Dykes to Watch Out For, at her mountaintop home in Vermont.
We filmed with Howard Cruse, the Godfather of LGBTQ Comics, and his partner of 40 years, Eddie, at Howard's home base studio in Western Massachusetts.
In San Francisco, we shot with the effervescent Mary Wings, creator of the first lesbian comic book.
We have filmed energetic mini-interviews with a new generation of artists:
- the talented and handsome Ed Luce, creator of the hugely popular Wuvable Oaf
Bay Area trans artist Emeric Kennard, who spoke of inhabiting "the space in-between"
- African-American artist Ajuan Mance, based in Oakland, CA, who describes her political art as inspired by stained glass
- Syrian-American artist Nicole Georges and her canine sidekick Ponyo
- Bronx artist Ivan Velez, Jr, one of the first openly gay creators to break into mainstream comics
But we're not there yet!
Shooting a film with high production value and locations across the country is expensive. We need $38,000 to complete principal cinematography.
The extra expense of bringing cinematographer Andy Black to each location is worth the aesthetic continuity of the film. Then there are the usual expenses: a camera package with lights; sound equipment rental; and administrative costs such as insurance, bookkeeping, and rent for our office when we're in production.
Our Kickstarter Goal
Cartoonists are notoriously shy, so we have to brave the rainy streets of Portland, Oregon and the crazy, energetic bustle of Manhattan to gather these stories.
Your support will make it possible to film at least two out-of-town shoots:
- In Portland, Oregon we'll interview queer comics legend Rupert Kinnard, creator of the first gay/lesbian African-American comic strip characters: the Brown Bomber and Diva Touché Flambé. Wheelchair-bound due to a car accident, Rupert produces work that is influenced by disability.
- In Manhattan, we'll visit with inimitable Lebanese-American lesbian cartoonist Jen Camper.
- After we exceed our goal, we'll film a pick-up shoot with Alison Bechdel in Vermont. We'll go to the Bronx and film with Ivan Velez, Jr. and we'll also film an epilogue with Eisner Award-nominee Scout Tran in her amazing San Francisco studio.
Comics, like any medium, are at their best when they reflect the complexity and diversity of the real world, and we're excited to have the chance to spotlight the people who are bringing that authenticity to the comics page. With your help, we can give these stories the big screen treatment they deserve.
Want to help but can't donate?
Please share the link with friends and help us reach our goal! Sign up on our website to be part of this journey so that you can be the first to get news about the film.
It's all or nothing!
Remember! If we don't make our goal, we forfeit everything.
Rewards for our wonderful backers!
Because we only offer rewards that we can deliver while we're still in production, we can't offer the usual rewards like a digital screening of the film. Instead, we thought of creative ways to thank you for joining the team.
Questions? Shoot us an email at:
firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Want to make a tax deductible donation in addition to the Kickstarter? Click over here: Catticus.org
Risks and challenges
This film team is known for bringing high quality projects across the finish line. Although we don’t know when the film will be finished, or exactly what length it will be, we do know:
-All proceeds from the Kickstarter campaign will go directly to finishing the filming phase.
-We've exhausted the foundation route for funding documentary films and now we must turn to you -- fans of comics, friends of ours, art patrons -- to help us complete the filming phase.
All creative projects have risks. If we fail to make our Kickstarter goal, we will have to abandon plans for additional filming.
However, we will complete the film. We do have 2 wonderful queer film lovers who are poised to help with completion funds when we reach the final post-production phase. So there's support waiting for us further down the road.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)