It’s a new year, and Qu33r, Rob Kirby’s grand, glorious anthology of thirty-three queer comics, feels as fresh and bright as these early days of January. Since 2010, Kirby has been editing Three, a high quality, LGBT comics anthology of three cartoonist’s works, with the expressed purpose of giving the creators space for their work to shine. The high quality of work, editing and presentation of these comics recognized Three with nominations for two Ignatz awards and a 2011 Prism Comics Queer Press Grant. Qu33r (Northwest Press), a beautiful hardcover volume, feels like an exponential expansion of all these good qualities, times three. (more…)
‘The Lavender Menace: Tales of Queer Villainy!’ edited by Tom Cardamone and ‘Al-Qaeda’s Super Secret Weapon’ by Mohammed al–Muhammad Mohammed and Youssef Fakish
As lgbt superhero teams proliferate, it only makes sense to showcase lgbt villains too; this fun compilation of stories sets out to explore that concept. One standout story, Damon Shaw’s Light and Dark brilliantly portrays the colossal mess a superhero fight invokes (imagine blowing up the moon!). These tales feature superheroes and villains with especially imaginative super powers, like writer Rod. M Santos’ character Muse, whose power set is based on inspiring others. These stories are filled with sexiness, fun word play, and insider jokes that comic book readers will love. The introduction notes that all the writers are gay men, in order to explore a shared boys’ mythological world inspired by comics, D&D, and an awakening gay sexuality.
The Lavender Menace:Tales of Queer Villainy!
Edited by Tom Cardamone
Paperback, 9781938720222, 232 pp.
Al-Qaeda’s Super Secret Weapon
This well-drawn spoof is based on the premise that once the U.S. military has decided to openly accept lgbt soldiers, the best way for Al-Qaeda to infiltrate their enemies is to get super-sexy gay operatives drafted, and destroy the U.S. military morale with weapons of mass seduction. Readers might chuckle at the word play and sex-related jokes, unfortunately, there’s lots here that doesn’t work, from the offensive fake Arabic pen names, to the already dated feel of the premise and assumptions about gay, Arabic, and Muslim behavior.
Al-Qaeda’s Super Secret Weapon
By Mohammed al–Muhammad Mohammed & Youssef Fakish
Paperback, 9781938730391, 72 pp.
Humans can be so dense sometimes. This is especially frustrating in a field like science, where experimentation, exploration and innovative thinking really pay off. For example, look at how long it’s taken scientists to admit that animals have feelings and emotions. For years, we were taught that animals were like robots, acting only out of instinct, despite all kinds of evidence from pet owners and animal lovers to the contrary. Now that some of that evidence is actually being examined, it turns out science has been stymied because it refused to look at proof that was right in front of its face. (more…)
The proliferation of manga within Japan cannot be overstated, and as a readily available outlet for gay expression, what gets translated on Western shores is yaoi, a subset of comics featuring gay male love stories typically illustrated and written by women for women readers. So it is a culturally significant event that Gengoroh Tagame, a genuine master in his field (that field being bara, gay comics by gay men for gay men), with a bearishly virile style which is instantly recognizable, receives a long overdue English translation. That this initial volume is a pitch perfect representation of his work makes for an outstanding debut. (more…)
Eddie, a former art student, has one cell phone for calls from his family, friends and lover. His other phone, and his other name, Ford, is private and strictly business. Eddie works as a male escort–a job he tries, but fails, to restrict to odd hours outside his mainstream life. Sucked into the world of rent boys by his admiration for Nelson, a handsome male sex worker, Eddie soon finds his new occupation, and the duplicity it requires, affects both how he treats others and how he feels about himself. (more…)
The long-awaited English translation of Blue is the Warmest (Arsenal Pulp Press), originally published in French as Le bleu est une couleur chaude, is a deeply compelling story, in large part due to its thorough exploration and attention to character. The graphic novel is told almost entirely in retrospect, as the formerly blue-haired Emma reads through the diaries of her deceased lover, Clementine. The diaries begin in 1994 France when Clementine is a fifteen-year-old sophomore in high school and continue over a decade into the future, though they focus largely on the rocky development of her and Emma’s relationship when Clementine first begins to discover her attraction towards women and struggles to accept her sexuality. With close-minded conservative parents and only one gay friend to confide in, the teenage Clementine internalizes her desire for Emma, caught in a wonderful and terrifying limbo that many queer youth are likely to relate to, one between discovering lust and feeling ashamed by who you lust after, between falling in love and self-hate. (more…)
Not Your Mother’s Meatloaf (Soft Skull Press) started in 2008 when authors Saiya Miller and Liza Bley put out an open call for young people to contribute comics that addressed subjects often ignored by traditional sex ed programs. They wanted to include topics like body image, safe sex, consent, and relationships, and include comics that challenged hetero and gender normative practices in sex education. (more…)
Hungry Bottom comics are clever, sassy, funny, artful, bratty…and insightful and wise. The theme for Williams’ biographical comic is emblazoned boldly on the first volume’s front cover: “Wow, you are a hungry bottom!” Williams prefaces his book by saying that some of the comics began as single-page “zingers.” That said, he’s done a great job of merging these single shots into the narrative of his tale.
Julio’s Day is the story of Julio’s life, spanning one hundred years, and covering approximately the same amount of pages. The pace of this graphic novel, which compiles a story originally serialized in Love and Rockets comics (with the addition of 36 pages), is set by this century timeline that runs through it. Just as clocks tick away lives in the real world, the turn of the page echoes that heartbeat of time for this tale. (more…)
The resurrection of David Wojnarowicz, via a recent biography, and now this collaborative comic of his work with James Romberger and Marguerite Van Cook, makes me wonder why it has taken us decades to pay tribute to forgotten saints, like him, whom we lost to AIDS, and the horrific pain, fear and ridicule they endured that made death easy by comparison. Perhaps thirty years and drug cocktails that have softened the diagnosis of the disease make it easier to face the nightmare that was AIDS, today. And collectively, our memory’s been worse: the Influenza Epidemic of 1916 was wiped from history books only to resurfaced one hundred years later, when once again flu threatens to threaten us. (more…)