With the kind of synchronicity that I’m used to, there has been a lot of conversation in LGBTQ comics and Yuri circles recently about stories with lesbian leads that are more than just a romance. Yuri anime is firmly entrenched in selling school life rom-coms to man-boys, and many readers are looking for something a little more…fun, with action and adventure. I’ve mentioned The Legend of Bold Riley several times and today I want to talk about a new comic – Gun Street Girl is definitely all that. The lead character happens to be gay, and then a story happens. ^_^
Barb Lien, one of the founding members of Sequential Tart, was tired of reading mainstream gay comics characters whose only story seemed to be that they were gay. Rather than looking at the body of LGBTQ comics to find similar role models, she decided to write the story she was looking for. “Because I wanted to read a story about….I wrote it” is the most common reason I hear for creating a work. It’s a totally valid reason, I’m not dissing it in any way. ^_^
And so, Barb created Gun Street Girl, a comic that if I were asked to describe, I would probably sum it up as “if Willow was Buffy”. Lizzie is the “gun” for a street wizard named Eddie. We meet them in a fun meta-commentary of comic stereotypes “Everybody Want To Rule The Wold.” The stories are independent of one another, but we get a glimpse of Lizzie’s relationships, her history for a solid volume. Lien has created fully fleshed out characters, with a slightly less fully fleshed out world. Like Buffy‘s Sunnydale, Gun Street Girl‘s world uses magic freely, then imposes random limitations upon itself, leaving it slightly adrift in time. It’s contemporary, but not our world, exactly.
For a story that was going to just have a gay lead and then the stories happens, Gun Street Girl gets a little heavy-handed in other places, addressing sexism in “An Unsuitable Job For A Woman” (a title which was used back in 1972 by P.D. James and, I felt, was an unfortunate choice in 2013. Update: I am informed that the stories were written about 10 years ago and admittedly comics have changed since quite significantly), and racism in the second story “Waking the Witch” in which we also meet Lizzie’s lover, Prana, who has a secret of her own. Too much of a good thing and also too little. The lessons are good, but – and here is my sincere concern – why are we still having stories about this stuff? If Lien was frustrated that superhero comics were still wrapped in the most basic “gay” stories, here she was pointing big red arrows at “she’s a woman in a man’s world” and “look how not-white this character is.” Ironically, the whole shebang is set in the UK, which is far, far more integrated in media representation than we are in the US.
Ryan Howe’s art is solid, easy to follow, even in “magic”-y scenes. It’s very 2-dimensional, hearkening back to comics of my youth. A few panels felt downright Kirby-esque. ^_^ The all-back and white art suited the story well, I think the pages might have looked messier in color, but then I much prefer B&W to color comics now, having had my sensibilities warped by manga. ^_^
Art – 7
Story – 8
Characters – 7
Yuri/Lesbian – 7 No obligatory sex – which is good, it’s a little *look, she’s a lesbian* but + for her and Prana’s relationship just being a relationship.
Service – 1
Overall – 8
For action, adventure, magic and fighting with a lead who just happens to be a lesbian, definitely give Gun Street Girl a try!