Comic Art, Creativity and the Law

Comic Art, Creativity and the Law

Elgar Law and Entrepreneurship series

Marc H. Greenberg

The creation of works of comic art, including graphic novels, comic books, cartoons and comic strips, and political cartoons, is affected, and at times limited, by a diverse array of laws, ranging from copyright law to free speech laws. This book examines how this intersection affects the creative process, and proposes approaches that encourage, rather than limit, that process in the comic art genre. Attention to the role comic art occupies in popular culture, and how the law responds to that role, is also analyzed.

Chapter 10: Obscenity law and the First Amendment: CBLDF to the defense

Marc H. Greenberg

Subjects: law - academic, information and media law, intellectual property law


Mike Diana is not everyone’s cup of tea. Creator/artist of a comic book ’zine called Boiled Angel, he was described in a 1994 Mother Jones magazine profile as follows: He has tattoos and long, stringy hair, likes the band Nine Inch Nails, sports a pronounced anarchist attitude, and fits most people’s definition of, well, creepy … Diana isn’t the boy next door; his artistic tastes, when compared to the mainstream, are completely off the meter. Whether it’s death and excrement, or simply shapes that make no sense, most of Diana’s material leaves viewers wondering, ‘What’s wrong with this kid?’. The article summarized two storylines from issues of his comic, Boiled Angel: A child is sodomized by his adoptive father, who is killed by the family dog. The boy thinks he’s finally free until the dog picks up where the dad left off. A man looks at a pretty woman. In the next frame, a montage, the man has the look of a psychopath and is surrounded by slivers of abstract images, including a nipple being sliced off by a knife. Strong, disturbing and uncomfortable material. So much so that when a copy of Boiled Angel, which had a miniscule subscriber base of 300 people, found its way into the hands of a California law enforcement officer, the violent images reminded him of a brutal series of unsolved student murders in Gainesville, Florida (Diana lived in Largo, Florida).

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