Hello No Straight Line-ers!
2020 June Newsletter
We here at No Straight Lines hope you’re staying safe during these strange and challenging times. For us, there’s a bright light in the midst of all of this: We’ve completed a rough cut of the film that we’re incredibly proud of! After several months of struggling to nail down the narrative structure, we’ve finally crossed the Rubicon of editing and have a solid story of five queer comics pioneers that’s emotionally resonant, profound, and highly entertaining.
Of course, we still face the prospect of launching the film in an era of shuttered film festivals, movie theaters, and comic conventions. We’re in conversation with our colleagues across the country on how to get our beautiful baby out into the world in the best possible way. Stay tuned!
READ MORE of our latest June Newsletter
Welcome to 2019!
After our successful Kickstarter campaign (THANKS TO ALL OF YOU WHO SUPPORTED US!), we were able to finish nearly all of the shooting. In September we flew to Portland, Oregon to film the wonderful Rupert Kinnard with his long-time partner Scott. Rupert was inspired by the Fantastic Four and the Black Panther, as well as by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Muhammad Ali, to create the first queer black characters in comics back in the late 1970s. The Brown Bomber, his mild-mannered gay superhero, debuted in his college newspaper and, after moving to the LGBTQ and alternative papers, was joined by the immortal lesbian snap-queen Diva Touché Flambé.
Rupert spoke passionately about both the importance of representation and the power of artistic community. Rupert lost the use of his legs in an automobile accident in 1997; in one powerful filmic moment, he showed us the hand-drawn art that queer cartoonists (including Alison Bechdel, Howard Cruse, and Jennifer Camper, all of whom we’ve filmed) sent to him during that difficult time. Rupert will be in many ways the heart of this film.
Then, in December we flew to New York to film the equally incredible, Lebanese-American dyke cartoonist Jennifer Camper. Jennifer is one of the pillars of the LGBTQ comics community, having created the Queers & Comics Conference (where we shot in 2017) and edited the influential Juicy Mother anthologies. Jennifer regaled us with ribald tales of the early years of queer comics, as well as shared some profound moments while speaking about losing friends and making resistance art during the height of the AIDS crisis.
After filming in her Brooklyn apartment, Jennifer took us to magical Coney Island (shuttered for the winter) to show off the hand-painted signs and murals that so inspire her own work. It was a cold day for an outdoor shoot, but well worth it to get more time with Jennifer! With her encyclopedic knowledge of, and ferocious passion for, queer comics, Jennifer will be in many ways the storyteller of this film, the one to connect the dots and help form the overall narrative.
We have one more shoot to do here in San Francisco, where we’ll be filming a young, dynamic trans cartoonist and doing some pick-up shots with Mary Wings, who created the first lesbian comic book. Again, all of this filming has been funded by the Kickstarter campaign; we literally could not have done this without you all!
Next, we are following up on meetings last fall in NY with industry reps who asked to see a rough cut of the film. These are sales agents and distributors who can fund the gigantic post-production expenses (sound mix, color correction, music, motion graphics, etc.). More soon!
We’re closer than ever to our goal of a film celebrating the Rise of Queer Comics!
Thank you again for your support from the bottom of our hearts,
Vivian & Justin
Despite the competition, we garnered 3 prestigious grants to date!
- • Berkeley Film Foundation
- • The San Francisco Foundation
- • California Humanities
- • Jonathan Logan Family Foundation
From our 2017 Newsletter:
No Straight Lines: 4 Decades of Queer Comics!
At this special moment in production, we’re delighted to give you an update on our film No Straight Lines: 4 Decades of Queer Comics! We launched the production phase with the “godfather of queer comics,” Howard Cruse, a recipient of an Eisner Award (aka “the Oscar of the American cartoon industry”). Living in Western Massachusetts with his husband/partner of 40 years, Howard was his usual eloquent, insightful, and funny self as he traced the inspiration for his work back to the groundbreaking “godmothers of queer comics,” Mary Wings, Roberta Gregory, and Lee Marrs. He also walked us through his seminal works Stuck Rubber Baby and Wendel.
Back at our studio at the Zaentz Media Center in Berkeley, we soon realized that we captured more than the birth of the groundbreaking anthology Gay Comix and the decades of incredible artwork that Howard produced. We also traced the story of 2 gay seniors who now are growing old together.
Our second shoot took us up a gravel road in Western Vermont to film the MacArthur “Genius” Award winner Alison Bechdel, creator of the New York Times’ best-selling graphic memoir, Fun Home. Alison graciously invited us to film at her studio Labor Day Weekend despite a looming deadline for a new book. With her usual mix of candor and humor, she described her enormously popular comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For that was published in independent feminist and LGBTQ newspapers. After 25 years, the comic strip started to lose steam when queer artists became more accepted by mainstream publications and the women’s-press movement began to peter out.
We also had a conversation with Dustin Lance Black, a distinguished film and television producer/director/writer whose most recent success was the ABC four-night mini-series When We Rise, which follows the quest for LGBTQ equality.
He wrote a poignant statement about the need forNo Straight Lines:
I love our history being told from any perspective that draws more people into its power, and this film’s perspective is vibrant, inventive, unexpected, and unique.”
We are thrilled to report that we’ve raised $100,000 from foundations,
friends and family, including:
– a development grant from the Berkeley Film Foundation
– a research grant from the prestigious San Francisco Foundation.
– a production grant from California Humanities to start filming.
Our goal now is to raise $50,000 to complete production and begin the editing phase.
The next film shoot will be with Rupert Kinnard, who created the first gay African-American comic-strip characters: the Brown Bomber (a teenage superhero) and Diva Touché Flambé (his ageless lesbian partner). Although a car accident left him paralyzed from waist down, Rupert’s creative output is unstoppable.
Here are a few ways you can help!
- Share this newsletter with your contacts.
- Donate cash to our 501c3 fiscal sponsor fully tax deductible via our website: www.nostraightlinesthefilm.com/funding
- If you are an employee, double your contribution with Corporate Workplace Gift Matching.
- Donate stocks and we all benefit!
- We always can use a Volunteer!
The No Straight Lines Team
Vivian, Justin and the wonderful people who have been helping to make this film.
Compadre Media Group
Zaentz Media Center
2600 Tenth Street #619
Berkeley CA 94710