No Straight Lines: The Past, Present, and Future of Queer Comics


Since the late 1960s, LGBTQ+ artists have told important and dynamic stories through comics. Queer artists have persisted in telling their stories despite threats to queer art around the world. Queer artists in the United States – and Florida in particular – have faced increasing censorship and harassment in recent months. With these mounting threats, what does the present and future of queer comics hold? What forms of resistance can we learn from queer creators of the past? To explore these questions, PEN America’s Artists at Risk Connection hosted a screening of the award-winning film No Straight Lines. This film – based on an anthology of the same name – delves deep into the lives and works of five influential queer American comic book artists. The screening was followed by a talkback moderated by acclaimed film critic and arts programmer Juan Barquin, featuring the film’s director Vivian Kleiman and artist and musician Cristy C. Road.

This event is supported by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.


Director/Producer Vivian Kleiman is a Peabody Award-winning filmmaker and a Fleishhacker Eureka Fellowship artist. Her recent film No Straight Lines premiered at Tribeca Film Festival and received the Grand Jury Award from LA’s OutFest. From Executive Producer of the Academy Award-nominated Last Day of Freedom, to story editor for the Showtime series Wu-Tang Clan: Of Mics and Men, her work is known for tackling challenging subjects and filmic approaches. Kleiman worked with Black gay filmmaker Marlon Riggs on his landmark films Tongues Untied and Color Adjustment and garnered the Organization of American Historians’ Eric Barnouw Award and the International Documentary Association’s Outstanding Achievement Award. She was nominated for a national Emmy for Outstanding Individual Achievement. She has been involved in 9 co-productions with the Independent Television Service (ITVS) for national PBS broadcast. Also an educator, she taught at Stanford University’s Graduate Program in Documentary Film & Video Production for nine years.

Cristy C. Road is a Cuban-American artist, writer and musician who’s been creating work for punk rock, publishing, & social justice movements since she was a teenager in Miami, circa 1997. Road self-published Green’zine for ten years, and has since released three illustrated novels which tackle gender, sexuality, mental health and cultural identity: Indestructible (2005), Bad Habits (2008), Spit and Passion (2013), and her latest project, The Next World Tarot, a Tarot deck dedicated to revolutionary love and resistance. C.Road’s work has appeared in New York Magazine, The Advocate, The New York Times, and countless other published works ranging from the literary mainstream to her home in the punk rock subculture. As a musician, Road is a singer-songwriter and fronts the punk rock group, Choked Up. She is a Gemini and currently working on a new visual language and a dystopian romance at her studio in Brooklyn, NY.

Juan Barquin has been a film critic in South Florida for the past decade, writing for outlets like Reverse Shot, AV Club, Hyperallergic, Indiewire, Little White Lies, among others, as well as contributing to local coverage of the arts in Miami New Times and Miami Herald. They are also the co-creator and programmer of the award-winning film series, Flaming Classics, which paired canonical cinema with curated drag performances to educate and entertain. In addition, they have also made various short films that have screened at festivals (including Miami Film Festival, Wicked Queer, Outshine). They aspire to be Bridget Jones.