Mike Diana, born 1969, is an illustrator and comic artist whose work frequently delves into comic violence and sexual depravity. Much of his work is funny, mocking things like sex, family values, the church, drugs, and generally just “values” in general. To quote the erection-sporting guy on cover of Boiled Angel #6, “I love engaging in antisocial behavior.”
He was drawn to, and excelled in art from a young age – but consistently dealt with depicting the dark and ugly side of things. In his first art class he was instructed to collect seashells on a beach for a collage, and rather elected to collect garbage and dead fish. He would later cite this instance in his famed obscenity trial, as a basis to establish that “art can be ugly and convey a message.”
Mike’s work helped pave the way for independent comic artists today. The style he was producing then still reigns as a point of reference for some of the edgiest artists working today, twenty years later.
Thrown in Jail for Obscenity
Mike’s claim to fame is a 1993 trial which made him the first artist ever to be convicted of obscenity for artwork in the United States, specifically for his comic books. A Florida prosecutor named Stuart Baggish saw a copy of Mike’s comic Boiled Angel, and took it upon himself to throw the book at him. The FBI investigated him, the fire department bulldozed his house, he was made into a scapegoat for the Gainsville serial killer, and Mike was sued for about six times as much money as he had made in his life.
Stuart Baggish, a rather cantankerous assistant state attorney, told the jury that, if not stopped, Diana had the potential to turn into a mass murderer or would inspire others to do so. When asked what their idea of good art is, one juror said “needlepoint.”
He was all-around fucked with by the US government for a couple years, and the ACLU tried to get involved to back him up. It was ultimately unsuccessful, and another warrant was issued in 1997.
He’s fine now, and in 2011 he did an interview and talked about releasing a box-set of Boiled Angel #s 1-8, the comic book series for which he was put on trial 20 years before.