Boiled Angel (comic)
Region: North America
Subject: Explicit Sexuality , Religion , Violence
Medium: Print Journalism
Artist: Michael Christopher "Mike" Diana
Confronting Bodies: State of Florida
Dates of Action: April 1993
Description of Artwork: Boiled Angel, an underground comic book containing graphic depictions of a variety of taboo and gory subjects (specifically magazine issues #7 & #8).
The Incident: In 1991, while investigating a Florida murder case, a police officer discovered an issue of Boiled Angel and, desperate for clues, contacted Diana, informed him he was a suspect, and requested a blood sample. The real killer was soon apprehended, and Diana was not pursued. The officer in question, however, collected additional issues of Boiled Angel and sent them to the State’s Attorney’s office where they went on file. Two years later, the Assistant State's Attorney, Stuart Baggish came across the books and charged Mike Diana with three counts of criminal misdemeanor.
The charges were 1) Publication of lewd or obscene material 2) Distribution of lewd or obscene material 3) Advertising for the sale of lewd or obscene material.
Results of Incident: The artist plead innocent to all charges at the first hearing on April 19, 1993. On June 7 he was granted a continuance to July 17, 1993 for a pre-trial hearing. On June 4, 1996, after a brief trial, Largo, Florida, Circuit Judge Douglas Baird declared the comics Boiled Angel #7 and Boiled Angel #ATE to be obscene, stating that he found them to be "patently offensive," and that "The evident goal of the appellant's publication is to portray shocking and graphic pictures of sexual conduct so it will be noticed. If the message is about victimization and that horrible things are happening in our society, as the appellant alleges, the appellant should have created a vehicle to send his message that was not obscene." Diana was found guilty on all three counts, and was sentenced to a three-year probation, during which time his residence was subject to inspection to determine if he was in possession of or was creating obscene material. He was to avoid all contact with children under 18, undergo psychological testing, enroll in a journalistic ethics course, pay a $3,000 fine, and perform 1,248 hours of community service. He was also ordered to cease drawing for personal use, and his place of residence was to be open to inspection by the police, without warning or warrant, at any time, for illustrations violating this ruling. He was not sentenced to any jail time, but spent four days in jail between the dates of the verdict and the sentencing.
To fulfill the requirement of undergoing a psychiatric evaluation, Diana was informed that the doctor whom he would see charged $100 an hour, which he would have to pay for himself, and that his evaluation would take two hours. After the evaluation, Diana was informed the session would cost $1,200 because the doctor claimed to have spent 10 hours reading Boiled Angel in preparation. Out of funds, Diana was unable to pay, and the doctor refused to give her evaluation to the court, effectively making him in violation of his probation.
Two appeals to the State Appellate Court failed to have the case reversed or reheard in Florida. During the first appeal process, the prosecution used evidence gathered after the original trial, a move that, according to the CBLDF, is usually considered unethical. The only count of the three under which Diana was convicted that was judged incorrect was the conviction for "advertising obscene material." The Court agreed that it was improper to convict someone for advertising material that had not yet been created since Diana could not, at the time, know the nature or character of the work. The courts refused to accept an amicus brief submitted by the American Civil Liberties Union, and responded without comment to the second appeal.
On June 27, 1997 the United States Supreme Court denied Mike Diana's petition for a writ of certiorari without comment, effectively ending his legal options in his battle to overturn his conviction.
Diana moved to New York, where he was granted permission to serve out his sentence, and fulfill his community service obligation through volunteer work for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.
Source: Michael Christopher "Mike" Diana, Wikipedia
Documentary on Mike Diana, First American Convicted of Obscenity, Launches Kickstarter, NCAC, BY JAS CHANA, NCAC blog, NOVEMBER 1, 2016