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Documentary about pioneering Cincinnati artists screens locally

Legendary comics artist Justin Green
Provided by Julia Green
Legendary comics artist Justin Green

Two nationally recognized artists based in Cincinnati are getting the documentary treatment.

Justin Green pioneered autobiographical cartoons in the 1970s, influencing legends like R. Crumb and Art Spiegelman.

He died in 2022. Now he and his equally lauded wife, artist Carol Tyler, are the subject of the documentary "Married to Comics." Tyler says filmmaker John Kinhart captured more than just how they made their innovative art.

"He very artfully put our story together in such a way to tell a bigger story," she says. "Even though we had difficulties and mental illness, throughout all of that, and the troubles that came, there's tremendous beauty and tremendous hope, and a lot of love."

Green gained national recognition with his autobiographical cartoon novels detailing his struggles with obsessive compulsive disorder. Tyler has won similar acclaim for her illustrations and writing, including the highly celebrated "Soldier's Heart." She taught art at the University of Cincinnati and continues to produce work — she has a new book coming soon about grief.

LISTEN: The legacy of artist Justin Green gets the spotlight in Northside

She hopes the documentary wins Green more recognition and speaks to audiences on a broader level, too, about love, mental health, and parenthood.

"People come up to me afterward and just sob," she says of early screenings of the film. "It's like, what nerve did we touch? No one has life without difficulty, you know? Marriages are impossible! And then to be an artist on top of that. And then to be a genius. And to have mental illness."

"Married to Comics" will screen May 16 at 7 p.m. at the Esquire Theater in Clifton.

A gallery exhibition of art featured in the movie will also be on display at Design Collective in Northside, run by Tyler and Green's daughter, artist Julia Green. That show runs until June 2.

Nick has reported from a nuclear waste facility in the deserts of New Mexico, the White House press pool, a canoe on the Mill Creek, and even his desk one time.