Happy Friday Readers! It’s Pride month and today we are talking about LGBTQI+ Comics and Graphic novels.
Queer representation in comics and graphic novels is still a talking point today. While we are finally seeing more and more representation coming through the big comic publishers, the industry has a great deal of catch up to do. However, thanks to the internet, we are experiencing a golden age of webcomics that cover the full spectrum of LGBTQI+ representation. Webcomics existed outside the overhead of industry gatekeepers and allowed absolutely brilliant series to rise.
A Brief History of Comic Representation
Queer comics has a long and interesting legacy, boasting four decades of fighting for inclusion. While creators constantly fought to wedge a foothold in the comic industry at large, a thriving underground existed, where queer comics were sold in head shops, punkzines, and LGBTQI+ newspapers. Queer creators faced intense push back from industry gatekeepers, where gayness was used to discredit comics during the 1950’s. In the 1960’s Tom of Finland’s openly gay Kake comics earned him 9 months jail time for mostly nude depictions of men.
A game changer was the Gay Comix Anthology in 1980 which brought together several already established underground Queer artists and authors, as well as new creators looking to get into the business beyond erotic comics. The Gay Comix Anthology existed as a backbone in the LGBTQI+ comic community for its 18 year run. It inspired new generations of creators with its existence, such as Alison Bechdel, of Dykes to Watch Out For and Bechdel Test fame who found one of the early comics and wanted to try her own hand as a creator. Gay Comix Anthology also hosted the first trans comics, such as David Kottler’s ‘I’m Me’ and Diana Green’s ‘Tranny Towers’. Wimmen’s Comix was also at the forefront of queer rep throughout the 70’s and 80’s but endured an uneven publishing schedule through the early 90’s. This is just scratching the surface of a rich, mostly underground publishing history of creators who paved the way for Queer creators today.
LGBTQI+ representation has begun to gain ground in the last decade, with the establishment of LGBTQI+ comic publishers, and Flamecon, a robust and thriving queer comics convention that opened its doors in 2015. That year also saw the Lambda Literary Awards establish a Graphic Novel category, allowing Queer comics creators a whole new forum of recognition for their work. Today we do see more and more LGBTQI+ rep in mainstream comics and pop culture but the push for more rep is far from over.
So please, check out the resources below, which includes some of the rich library of LGBTQI+ webcomics available. And as always, get your read on.