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Diane DiMassa

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Title: Diane DiMassa  
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Subject: Hothead Paisan, Robert Kirby (comics), Bitch and Animal, Lesbian artists, Underground cartoonists
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Diane DiMassa

Diane DiMassa
Born 1959 (age 56–57)
New Haven, Connecticut
Nationality American
Area(s) Cartoonist
Notable works
Hothead Paisan, Homicidal Lesbian Terrorist

Diane DiMassa (born 1959) is an American feminist artist, author and cartoonist. Her works include comics, illustrations, and a graphic novel. While she is best known for the character Hothead Paisan, Homicidal Lesbian Terrorist she is a prolific fine artist as well.[1]


  • Hothead Paisan 1
  • Other work 2
  • Current work 3
  • Personal life 4
  • Bibliography 5
  • Notes 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8

Hothead Paisan

Hothead Paisan made its debut in 1991, and was initially published four times a year by Giant Ass Publishing (Stacy Sheehan and Diane DiMassa). The series was part of an underground 'zine explosion which happened in the early 1990s, and instantly snared a loyal cult following. DiMassa published Hothead Paisan from 1991–1996; the whole series has been collected into the anthology The Complete Hothead Paisan, published by Cleis Press. It contains all 21 issues, plus 20 extra pages. (The original issues are still available on the Hothead Paisan website.)

Hothead Paisan is rage therapy for the marginalized and disaffected, the fed up,and anyone sickened by society's ills.[2] Her readers comprise a full spectrum of gender, orientation, race and class. Hothead literally started out as journal material to vent and deal with anger issues by DiMassa when first entering into drug and alcohol recovery.[3] The first issue, published as a mini-comic,[2] was twelve pages long and elicited a roaring response, giving rise to the ongoing series, and soon after, a line of merchandise called "Groovy Crapola" which included shirts, mugs, hats, rubber stamps, etc.

Hothead has no filter and reacts viscerally and violently to the injustices of the world. Her acting out of the fantasies that "normal" people have but would never act on holds her appeal; she does it for us unapologetically and uproariously. Her cat Chicken brings in a more spiritual, wise (and wise-cracking) element. Hothead's best friend Roz is an older psychic blind woman who is a pacifist and almost endlessly patient with Hothead. These and other characters make Hothead Paisan a well-rounded experience which speaks to the many facets of the reader's emotional landscape.

In 2002, a candy bar named after Hothead Paisan — the "Homicidal Lesbian Terrorist" booster bar — sold out quickly in San Francisco, where DiMassa was living at the time.[4]

Other work

DiMassa illustrated the Pussycat Fever chapbook by the late Kathy Acker, along with Freddie Baer (AK Press, 1995); My Gender Workbook by Kate Bornstein; and Sexing the Body by Anne-Fausto Sterling. DiMassa illustrated Jokes and the Unconscious, a graphic novel written by poet and writer Daphne Gottlieb, which was published by Cleis Press in 2006.[5]

DiMassa has contributed to numerous comic/literary anthologies from the early 1990s to the present, the most recent being Live Through This (Seven Stories Press), which is a collection of prose and art by women describing the role that art has played in dealing with issues such as addiction.

Current work

DiMassa currently does a bit of cartooning/illustrating, but focuses mainly on oil painting and street art pieces often based on Hothead Paisan and Chicken.

Personal life

DiMassa grew up in New Haven, Connecticut.[6][7]


  • Hothead Paisan: Homicidal Lesbian Terrorist, Pittsburgh, Pa. : Cleis Press, 1993.
  • "A Day with Chicken", 3 p. in Gay Comics #22 (Summer 1994).
  • "Mightier than the Sorehead: Drawing Pens and Politics", p. 45-54, The Nation, v. 258, no. 2 (Jan. 17, 1994).
  • The Revenge of Hothead Paisan, Homicidal Lesbian Terrorist, Pittsburgh, Pa. : Cleis Press, 1995.
  • "Born Queer", p. 60 in Gay Comics #25 (Spring 1998).
  • Jokes and the Unconscious, with Daphne Gottlieb (2006). San Francisco: Cleis Press. ISBN 1-57344-250-X.


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b Smith, Roberta. "Art View; A Parallel Art World, Vast and Unruly," New York Times (November 20, 1994).
  3. ^ DiMassa profile,'s Comiclopedia.
  4. ^ Morse, Rob. "Whistle-blower ready for justice," San Francisco Chronicle (January 27, 2002).
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^


  • Dana A. Heller, “Hothead Paisan : Clearing a Space for a Lesbian Feminist”, Folklore, p. 27-44, New York Folklore, v. 19, no. 1/2, 1993.
  • Roz Warren (ed.), Dyke Strippers: Lesbian Cartoonists A-Z, Pittsburgh, Cleis Press, 1995.
  • Kathleen Martindale, "Back to the Future with Dykes to Watch out For and Hothead Paisan", p. 55-76 in Un/Popular Culture, Albany : State University of New York Press, 1997.
  • Keridwen Luis, “Words, Culture, and the Boundaries of Sanity in the Works of Diane DiMassa, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and Sylvia Plath”, Feminista!, 1997.
  • Trina Robbins, From Girls to Grrrlz: A History of ♀ Comics from Teens to Zines, San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1999. ISBN 978-0811821995

External links

  • "Jokes and the Unconscious: An Interview with Daphne Gottlieb and Diane DiMassa

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