The Subversive Power of LGBTQ Comic Books

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 (Photo by M. Sharkey)

In 1954, the Comics Code Authority was formed to censor newsstand comic books by banning depictions of violence, negative portrayals of law enforcement and any mention of homosexuality. The ban created the flourishing world of so-called ‘underground comix,’ which approached banned items as a checklist and inspired a generation of LGBTQ cartoonists to draw themselves and their community on the page. A new PBS documentary, “No Straight Lines,” maps the history of LGBTQ comics frame by frame, from Rupert Kinnard’s “Brown Bomber,” to Alison Bechdel’s “Dykes to Watch Out For,” to their influence on the next generation of queer comic artists today. We’ll talk about that history and hear from next generation artists Lawrence Lindell and Maia Kobabe, whose graphic memoir “Gender Queer” is now one of the most-banned books in the U.S.


Maia Kobabe, cartoonist; author, “Gender Queer”

Lawrence Lindell, cartoonist; author, “Blackward” and “From Truth with Truth”

Vivian Kleiman, director, “No Straight Lines: Four Decades of Queer Comics”

Rupert Kinnard, activist; cartoonist; author, “B.B. and the Diva,” and “Cathartic Comics”