Crowdfunding has been an amazing source of press and distribution for LGBTQ comic and narrative anthologies. Where traditional publishing would not be flexible enough to publish a niche volume and get it out to distribution in large enough numbers to make an impact, crowdfunding allows folks who would pay to see it published actually pay to see it published, with room for the creators to either invest in larger print runs and seek bookstore/online distribution AND/OR provide interested parties a chance to get a PDF so they can enjoy the content and save room on their shelves. It is, quite literally, a win-win situation.
Among the many crowdfunding efforts I supported last year was Dates! an anthology of historical LGBTQ fiction and comics. Dates! is available in softcover and PDF format from Margins Publishing on Gumroad. (Gumroad has been a huge boon for comics and niche creators, giving folks a chance to create the kind of small-run print and e-book offerings that I would have killed for in 2003. ^_^; )
Right off the bat, the thing that stands out in Dates! is the multiculturalism of content and characters. Stories set in locales from Ireland to Korea, in time periods from the stone age to during the Mahabharata to Renaissance Italy to 20th century America. I never felt like I was reading the same story over or suffering from the kind of “typicality” that themed anthologies often suffer from, where too many stories seem too similar.
The stories are also pleasantly widely cast along the spectrum of gender and sexual minorities, with a number of strong entries discussing gender, sexuality (or lack thereof) without any self-loathing or external hatred needed. In fact, if I had to sum the book up I’d say “coming out need not apply.” These characters are not coming out, dealing with or working through…they are. Then the story happens.
The art is variable and so is the storytelling and characters, so your interest will certainly be piqued by the kind of story set in the place or time you like best, but there was something for nearly everyone in this collection.
Overall – 8
This is was an absolute delight and a terrific use of crowdfunding. I hope to see more from the folks at Margins in days ahead.