Movie poster for documentary "No Straight Lines" by Vivian Kleiman. Person in suit and glasses drawing on wall covered with comics.
Movie poster for documentary "No Straight Lines" by Vivian Kleiman. Person in suit and glasses drawing on wall covered with comics.
The journeys of five scrappy queer artists from the margins of the underground comics scene to mainstream acceptance


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QUALIFIED FOR AN OSCAR | WORLD PREMIERE - Tribeca Film Festival | GRAND JURY PRIZE - Outfest | EXCELLENCE IN JOURNALISM - DOCUMENTARY FILM - The National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association

Community • Art, Humor, and Activism • Zines & Graphic Memoirs • Self Representation  Queer History

Date of Completion: 2021 | Run Time: 79 minutes​​ | Language: English with Spanish subtitles available (French and German subtitles coming soon) | Captions: Yes | Includes: Transcript | Director: Vivian Kleiman | Producers: Vivian Kleiman & Justin Hall

NO STRAIGHT LINES: THE RISE OF QUEER COMICS tells the story of five scrappy and pioneering LGBTQ cartoonists- Alison Bechdel, Jennifer Camper, Howard Cruse, Rupert Kinnard, and Mary Wings- who depicted everything from the AIDS crisis, coming out, same-sex marriage, and themes of race, gender, and disability. The film explores how these trailblazing LGBTQ artists resisted censorship and displayed tremendous courage and conviction in providing an uncensored window into queer lives from the 1970s onward, beginning at a time in which there was no other genuine queer storytelling in popular culture. Equally engaging are their personal journeys, as they helped build a queer comics underground that has been able to grow and evolve in remarkable ways–against all odds. Peabody Award-winning filmmaker Vivian Kleiman weaves together intimate conversations with these foundational artists and younger cartoonists who were inspired by their work, resulting in a rich tapestry of diverse voices and images to explore the power of self-representation. 

Educational Media Reviews Online (EMRO) | Reviewed by Andrew Koval, MSLS
Highly Recommended 
"A comprehensive mix of empowerment, history, grief and cultural analysis of the gay community through the medium of comics."

Stanford University | Estelle Freedman, Edgar E. Robinson Professor in United States History Emeriti
"No Straight Lines provides a lively and engaging account of lesbian and gay comics in the U.S. from their origins in 1970s counter-cultures to their establishment in the 21st century. Driven by the compelling personal histories of pioneers such as Howard Cruse and Alison Bechdel, the film takes care to draw out intergenerational influences, technological change, and the non-linear trajectory of queer comics from margin to mainstream."

Yale University | Roderick A. Ferguson, William Roberston Coe Professor of Women's, Gender, & Sexuality Studies and Professor of American Studies
“Fun and moving! No Straight Lines is a survey of an ever-evolving history that many of us didn’t know we had. Watch it and see how these amazing artists say and draw ‘gay’ over and over again.”

Journal of International Women's Studies | Reviewed by Peter Jnr Tshetu & Brian Pindayi
"No Straight Lines ─ The Rise of Queer Comics is a thought-provoking and visually engaging documentary that skillfully weaves together personal stories, historical context, and the evolution of queer comics. It stands as a testament to the power of art in shaping narratives, challenging stereotypes, and creating a space for diverse voices within the queer community.

Los Angeles Times

Quietly powerful.”

"10 Must-See Films"

The Guardian
“A rich tapestry of interwoven voices and images.”

San Francisco Chronicle
“Kleiman tells a wider and deeper tale about the power of seeing one’s experience represented… Kleiman made the artwork itself the star of film.”

“One of ‘6 Gripping Art Films to See at the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival"

Filmmaker Magazine
“Kleiman does a phenomenal job… A film that evokes laughter with the timeless humor of queer comics while engaging as well with the AIDS crisis and other elements of historical LGBT political oppression, No Straight Lines succeeds in blending history with narrative, ultimately doing justice to the rich history of queer comics.”

CBS News
“An entertaining and enlightening documentary… Traces the evolution of comics as a social movement, and artistic expression as a vital channel of sexuality.”

World Premiere | Tribeca Film Festival
International Premiere | Sheffield Doc Festival
Grand Jury Prize | Outfest
Closing Night | Frameline
Excellence in Journalism - Documentary Film - The National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association

Tribeca Film Festival
Sheffield Doc Festival
AFI DocFest

Vivian Kleiman, Producer/Director, is a Peabody Award-winning documentary filmmaker known for tackling challenging subjects and filmic approaches, on such subjects as international adoption; the burning of a Black church in South Carolina by an aspiring member of the Ku Klux Klan; women in a Tijuana slum whose actions led to the first multi-billion dollar cleanup of a toxic spill on the U.S.-Mexico border; and a former Marine who journeyed from rejection to acceptance of his gay son.

A longtime collaborator with Black gay filmmaker Marlon Riggs, her work with him includes his landmark experimental documentary Tongues Untied (Additional Cinematography.)

Recently, Kleiman directed and produced NO STRAIGHT LINES: THE RISE OF QUEER COMICS, a feature-length documentary that chronicles queer comic books from the margins of the Underground Comix scene to mainstream acceptance. Honored to premier at the Tribeca Film Festival, the film won the Grand Jury Award at LA’s Outfest, the most prestigious LGBT film festival in the U.S.

Among her other professional awards: Organization of American Historians’ Eric Barnouw Award, International Documentary Association’s Outstanding Achievement Award, and National Emmy Award Nomination for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Research. Kleiman holds the distinctive record as producer or executive producer of eight co-productions with the Independent Television Service (ITVS), created by U.S. Congress to produce programs by independent filmmakers for national public television.

As an educator, Kleiman served a Lecturer at Stanford University’s Graduate Program in Documentary Film Production for nine years.

Justin Hall is an award-winning cartoonist and educator. He is the creator of True Travel TalesHard to SwallowTheater of Terror: Revenge of the Queers, and the Xeric Award-winning A Sacred Text. He has work in the Hougton Miflin Best American ComicsBest Erotic ComicsQU33R, and the SF Weekly, among others. Hall edited the Lambda-winning and Eisner-nominated No Straight Lines: Four Decades of Queer Comics, which was the inspiration for the feature-length documentary film of the same name, of which he was Producer. He has curated international museum and gallery shows of comics from San Francisco to Berlin and written extensively about comics theory and history for academic publications such as Cambridge University Press and Rutledge. Hall is the first Fulbright Scholar of Comics, the Chair of the MFA in Comics program at California College of the Arts, the Co-Organizer of the Queers & Comics Conference, and has taught and lectured about comics internationally.