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No Straight Lines: The Past, Present, and Future of Queer Comics

Directed by: Vivian Kleiman | 2021 | 1h 19m | Unrated

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SCREENING ON 6/22 @ 7pm
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O Cinema South Beach

1130 Washington Ave, Miami Beach (786) 471-3269

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• General Admission – $5.00


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Artists across the United States have long grappled with a complex range of challenges and barriers, from economic precocity and structural racism to threats and harassment as a result of sensitive artwork. Such challenges to artistic freedom have only intensified in recent years amidst a national crackdown on free expression. Authors and publishers are confronting widespread book bans, and drag artists are being banned from performing. Social media companies are censoring visual artwork that contain nudity. Meanwhile, museums, galleries, schools, and other institutions and entities are removing artwork and murals that are deemed too provocative or sensitive.

In such a moment, it is critical to examine the state of artistic freedom in the United States – to define the concerns and threats artists face; to grapple with challenges such as censorship, cancel culture, racism, erasure, and more; and to identify ways forward to allow artists to thrive and create their work without fear.

PEN America’s Artists at Risk Connection (ARC), which has worked to protect and defend the rights of threatened artists around the world since 2017, is launching this event series in order to spotlight the needs and experiences of artists in the United States. We are partnering with PEN America chapters across the country to bring a series of events on artistic freedom issues to Los Angeles, Miami / South Florida, Detroit, Phoenix, and Austin.


PLEASE NOTE: This event has passed.

O Cinema & PEN America present a special one-night screening of NO STRAIGHT LINES followed by a post-film discussion with director Vivian Kleiman, film critic Juan Barquin & artist/musican Cristy C. Road!

Since the late 1960s, LGBTQ+ artists have told important and dynamic stories through comics. Queer artists have persisted in telling their stories despite threats to queer art around the world. Queer artists in the United States – and Florida in particular – have faced increasing censorship and harassment in recent months. With these mounting threats, what does the present and future of queer comics hold? What forms of resistance can we learn from queer creators of the past? To explore these questions, join PEN America’s Artists at Risk Connection for a screening of the award-winning film NO STRAIGHT LINES. This film – based on an anthology of the same name – delves deep into the lives and works of five influential queer American comic book artists. The screening will be followed by a talkback moderated by acclaimed film critic and arts programmer Juan Barquin, featuring the film’s director Vivian Kleiman and artist and musician Cristy C. Road.


NO STRAIGHT LINES tells the story of five scrappy and pioneering cartoonists who depicted everything from the AIDS crisis, coming out, and same-sex marriage, to themes of race, gender, and disability. They tackled the humor in queer lives in a changing world, and the everyday pursuits of love, sex, and community. Their work is funny, smart, and profound, and provides a unique, uncensored window into LGBTQ lives from the 1970s onward, beginning at a time in which there was no other genuine queer storytelling in popular culture. Equally engaging are their personal journeys, as they, against all odds, helped build a queer comics underground that has been able to grow and evolve in remarkable ways.



Juan Barquin is a South Florida based queer film writer whose work has appeared in the Miami Herald, Miami New Times, Hyperallergic, and Bitch Media, among other publications. Their work varies from festival coverage and cultural essays to in-depth interviews and short fiction. I am the co-creator and co-host for the podcast For A Good Time…, in which Isabelle Arf and they do deep dives into adult cinema, both contemporary and classic. They also co-founded the film criticism site Dim the House Lights along with Derek Godin & was the co-creator, manager, and programmer for the queer film series Flaming Classics alongside Trae DeLellis.


Vivian Kleiman is a Producer/Director, a Peabody Award-winning documentary filmmaker known for tackling challenging subjects and filmic approaches, on such subjects as international adoption; the burning of a Black church in South Carolina by an aspiring member of the Ku Klux Klan; women in a Tijuana slum whose actions led to the first multi-billion dollar cleanup of a toxic spill on the U.S.-Mexico border; and a former Marine who journeyed from rejection to acceptance of his gay son. A longtime collaborator with Black gay filmmaker Marlon Riggs, her work with him includes his landmark experimental documentary Tongues Untied (Additional Cinematography.) In 2021, Kleiman directed and produced No Straight Lines: The Rise of Queer Comics, a feature-length documentary that chronicles queer comic books from the margins of the Underground Comix scene to mainstream acceptance. Honored to premier at the Tribeca Film Festival, the film won the Grand Jury Award at LA’s Outfest, the most prestigious LGBT film festival in the U.S. Among her other professional awards: Organization of American Historians’ Eric Barnouw Award, International Documentary Association’s Outstanding Achievement Award, and National Emmy Award Nomination for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Research. Kleiman holds the distinctive record as producer or executive producer of eight co-productions with the Independent Television Service (ITVS), created by U.S. Congress to produce programs by independent filmmakers for national public television. As an educator, Kleiman served a Lecturer at Stanford University’s Graduate Program in Documentary Film Production for nine years.


Cristy C. Road is a Cuban-American artist, writer, and musician who’s been supplying creativity for punk rock, publishing, and social justice movements since she was a teenager in Miami, circa 1997. Road self-published Green’zine for 10 years, and has since released three illustrated novels which tackle gender, sexuality, mental health, and cultural identity (with a tinge of bathroom humor and curse words): Indestructible (2005), Bad Habits (2008) and her most recent work, Spit and Passion (2013), a graphic queer-coming-out memoir (about staying in the closet and listening to Green Day). C. Road’s work has been featured in the Baby Remember My Name: New Queer Girl Writing Anthology, Live Through This Anthology, Maximumrocknroll, Razorcake, New York Magazine, The Advocate, The Progressive, and countless other published works. As a musician, Road fronted The Homewreckers for eight years, and continues to perform and write music. She’s toured nationally and internationally on her own, and with Sister Spit: The Next Generation. She is currently illustrating the NEXT WORLD TAROT Card Deck and writing pop-punk songs in Brooklyn, NY.

“One of the underlying takeaways of “No Straight Lines” is that the history of queer comics is a history of resilience and being true to who you are.”