On Queer Comics

Recently my friend Peter called; he was on his way to Comic Con. I’ve never been, but he’s been often like another friend of mine, Olivier, who’d posted a photo earlier in the day of himself dressed as Aquaman. As a teen I had an interest in comics—I collected the Batman’s “A Lonely Place of Dying” series, early editions of “The Flash”, I even have “Punisher” No. 1 in mint condition. Needless to say, comics allowed me to be in a world other than my own where almost anything was possible.

In a collection of poetry published by Graywolf Press in 2010, Missing You Metropolis by Gary Jackson, superheroes are in mundane situations like contemplating the loss of a family member or trying to find a date at a bar. Comics have become blockbuster films and Tony Award-winning musicals. The demand for comics and the stories they tell does not appear to be waning. A consumer base may be broadening, or at least it seems to be, that the world of comics is beginning to more closely reflect our own world. Superheroes are no longer simply rich, handsome (heterosexual) billionaires keeping cities safe at night, but superheroes are like us and sometimes they’re queer. And why shouldn’t they be? Perhaps a more apt question would be why haven’t they made their presence known to us sooner. Queer audiences have been waiting for their queer superhero counterparts to make their way into mainstream culture.

missing you metropolis

This past June the queer comic book collective Geeks OUT launched Flame Con—New York City’s first LGBTQ comic convention. A founding member of Geeks Out was interviewed about Flame Con. The response to queer comics has been overwhelmingly positive. During this year’s Comic-Con, a panel discussion focused on the need for queer representation in media. More on that is here.

flame con

There are queer readers of comics and the time for representation in the mainstream is long overdue. Readers and audiences, alike, must be exposed to all facets of the human experience and queerness is a necessary component of our world. There are several publishers of queer comics including Prism Comics, since 2003, Northwest Press, since 2010. Film and television has for decades recognized the importance of queer representation and the representation of queer people is beginning to find a mainstream audience in comics as well.

Comics are meaningful to all-types of audiences because they combine both the word and image in the same way theater has entertained and informed societies for millennia or in the way film has for decades. Comics present audiences with the stories of people both heroic and everyday. The New York Times described queer comics in Justin Hall’s anthology, No Straight Lines: Four Decades of Queer Comics, as a collection that alters “our perceptions in intimate ways. Mood and tone don’t emerge over the course of paragraphs and chapters; they’re evident at first glance, infused into the arrangement of panels, thickness of lines and density of detail. We read books; we feel comics.”

A feature-length documentary tells the story of four decades of LGBTQ comics artists is in production. To support this production visit: NoStraightLinestheFilm.com.


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