Rupert Kinnard, born in Chicago in 1954, attended high school in the city and then graduated from the American Academy of Art. He is credited as Professor IB Gittendown, who is the openly gay African American cartoonist who created the first black queer comic book characters: the Brown Bomber (a teenage superhero) and Diva TouchÃ© FlambÃ© (his sans lesbian partner. age). Both were published in the deceased Broad outlines magazine.
Kinnard shines in the spotlight at Reeling: The Chicago LGBTQ International Film Festival. No straight lines will air on Saturday, September 25, starting at 5:15 p.m., at Iconic Century Center Cinema.
âHer story is so poignant,â said director Vivian Kleiman.
The stories of the Five are just as engaging as their personal journeys, as they have, against all odds, helped build an underground queer comic that has been able to grow and evolve in remarkable ways.
No straight lines made its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival, one of the most prestigious festivals in the world. The film has been screened at film festivals in the United States, Europe and Asia. No straight lines has screenings in Canada and Italy before landing in Chicago, then in Ireland and Norway after Reeling.
âIt’s an exciting time, an exciting event (to be screened). I’m delighted that the movie is coming out, âsaid Kleiman, who admitted that she was squatting at her desk during the pandemic, working hard on editing the movie.
Despite the woes of the pandemic around the world, Kleiman was able to be “very productive” on the film.
No straight lines presents the work of Alison Bechdel, which includes Fun Home, her graphic memoirs on her locked up father; Howard Cruse, who created the graphic novel about growing up gay in the civil rights era in Alabama; Jen Camper, who created dyke characters; and Mary Wings, who created the first lesbian comic book in the basement of a women’s karate co-op.
No Straight Lines “incorporated the voices of a younger generation of queer artists to try and make the film more meaningful to younger audiences,” Kleiman said. âI would have expected that a younger artist would not be as interested in the work or the previous generations, but to my surprise I heard how much they appreciate the work of queer artists of the past and to how much they would have liked to know about their work earlier and how much they would like to know more about them; it’s quite surprising and it speaks to our queer community that has been so lacking in representations of our own lives.
Kleiman said the selection of the five artists was not easy – far from it.
âTelling stories in a documentary should be as good an experience as a compelling novel,â she said. âDocumentaries often focus on one or three people. But I just couldn’t select three. There were just too many great stories, great people. Even bringing it down to five was a bit of a challenge.
Kleiman has said that some of his favorite moments from the film involve Kinnard talking about getting countless recovery cards from his colleagues and fans. âIt really showed that sense of community and diversity in the art style. It really is the epitome of what the film is about, âshe said.
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