The Trial of Mike Diana (2018)


2018 – 105 minutes

The incredible and crazy story about the events that led American cartoonist Mike Diana to prison will now be told in a documentary.

Diana was jailed without bail in 1994, a Pinellas County (Florida) court jury found him guilty of “obscenity” in a session lasting just 90 minutes, following a week-long trial in March 1994 that aroused great interest at the time.

Mike Diana is, to date, the first and only cartoonist to be jailed for his work in the USA.

His ordeal began when one of his self-published comics “Boiled Angel” was declared “the most offensive magazine ever made”

Mike Diana’s fanzine fell into the hands of a California police officer in 1991. The sex scenes and violence depicted in “Boiled Angel” reminded him of a series of unsolved murders in Gainesville, Florida, and he reported his suspicions. The police officer’s speculation was taken so seriously that blood samples from the cartoonist were analysed. Mike Dana was eventually found to have no connection to the crime, but prosecutor Stuart Baggish took one look at the comic book and deemed it “an obscenity”.

Supervised probation

Mike spent four days in jail, was eventually sentenced to three years of supervised probation by The Salvation Army, fined $3,000 ($1,000 for each count), given 1,248 hours of community service, and ordered to avoid contact with minors. Judge Walter Fullerton also ordered Diana to undergo a state-supervised psychiatric evaluation, but to pay for it out of her own pocket.

Prior to the end of her obligations, which were arranged by the Salvation Army, Diana was charged with a probation violation. And despite having paid $2,000 in fines, a warrant was issued for his arrest in Florida.

In May 1997, the CBLDF and the ACLU filed a petition for awrit of certiorari with the US Supreme Court to review the conviction. On 27 June, the Court denied the petition without comment and ended Mike Diana’s legal options in the battle to overturn his conviction.

Here is the story, best told.

The documentary, funded through Kickstarter, has a 2018 release date.

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