What the Fest!? Documentary Review: BOILED ANGELS: THE TRIAL OF MIKE DIANA

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BOILED ANGELS: THE TRIAL OF MIKE DIANA is a documentary that covers the only known comic artist to be jailed for obscenity in the United States. Mike Diana created Boiled Angel in the early 90s and it was an intentionally offensive underground comic magazine. At the time he created it in the suburbs of Florida, a serial killer was roaming Gainesville and had left bodies mutilated in many of the same ways that were depicted in Boiled Angel. Mike Diana was brought in for questioning regarding the murders and while he was found innocent, the authorities at the time did not approve of his comics and so Diana was arrested and charged for obscenity.

The documentary is narrated by Jello Biafra, of Dead Kennedys fame, and Diana’s comics are dispersed throughout the film to highlight the absurdity of the case. Neil Gaiman, renowned author and champion of free speech, also makes an appearance in addition to the late George Romero. Many of the opposing players in the original case, such as the lawyers and even activists, are also interviewed for the film and their opinions have not changed, as they are quoted by saying, “We were just doing our job.”

BOILED ANGELS leans toward supporting Mike Diana, but the inclusion of the opposing sides helps illustrate their perspective without showing them as enemies. Whatever your take on Mike Diana’s case is, it is an important story to tell because even though we have freedom of speech in the USA, our freedoms are frequently under scrutiny from those who disagree with us, and can still be taken away just because of a few people in power. In a day and age when it seems like every little thing offends someone on social media and people are unfriending each other because of different viewpoints, Mike Diana’s story seems even more relevant.

Kino McFarland