Archive for the Western Comic/Comix Category

LGBTQ Comic: Legend of Korra: Turf Wars, Part 2 (English)

February 4th, 2018

Legend of Korra: Turf Wars, Part 2 has all the strengths and weaknesses of part of 2 of a 3-part anime OVA in a 78 page comic.

This part of the story is what I call “the storm before the calm.” The team is broken up and become physically and emotionally distant from each other. They will have to pull together for them to win, but they are being assailed on too many fronts to do that right now. As if this isn’t enough, an extra piece is on the board now, making a whole ‘nother set of complications.

Korra is facing opposition from the Triads, the government and the spirits..and now another organized crime leader. As usual, she’s trying to do it all herself and her relationship with Asami is suffering because of it. Everyone is doing their best to help, but they are all isolated in their own verticals. They need coordination. And in this, this issue does two things that made it absolutely worth reading. Asami identifies the perfect coordinator, Zhu Li (although she is thinking on a larger scale than just their immediate needs, which is also a great piece of writing). Placing Zhu Li’s competence at the forefront of the story made me quite happy, and Varrick’s reaction of pure joy at the idea of Zhu Li as President put a period on it. This was a scene I would have loved to see and hear animated.

The color work in this issue is notably excellent. One of the defining characteristics of the Avatar world are the color palettes and art styles of the various kingdoms. This series has had to balance that with a palette of its own in which to tell this particular story. I really like the choices made here. Irene Koh’s work is getting better and better.

Also notable was a narrative buried in the story of President Raiko’s handling of the refugees which leads to Zhu Li considering a political campaign. There was no doubt in my mind at all  that this section contained a clear rebuke on current politics, especially in reference to Puerto Rico’s sabotaged recovery after Hurricane Maria. Over 400,000 Puerto Ricans are still without power and the emergency management there under our current administration has been openly corrupt and incompetent.

The fast pacing is not helping this comic. This arc needs time to develop and time for us to have some relief from the multiple tensions of the emotional and physical conflicts. It’s almost a shame that it’ll have to wrap up next issue and so we’ll get the cathartic ending we’ll need, without the appropriate pacing for any of it. It’s all too rushed. Every four pages is another episode of this super-dense narrative. Yes, Korra and Asami will b reunited but, will they be given time to talk about what’s happening with them? Asami is so much emotionally mature than Korra. The Avatar’s going to have to be given the chance to do the work to get to Asami’s level. I hope so, at any rate.


Art – 8
Story – 8
Characters – 9
Service – 0
Yuri – 10

Overall – A very solid 9

Michael Dante DiMartino, Bryan Konietzko and Irene Koh have a lot on their plate to make the third volume of this comic work. I have to believe they are up to the challenge. ^_^

Today’s review was once again sponsored by the kindness and generosity of Okazu Superhero Eric P.! Thank you very much for the chance to read and review this series!

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LGBTQ Comic: Bingo Love

December 13th, 2017

Sometimes, all you really want to read is an adorable story about a timeless love winning over intolerance and other people’s opinions. On days like that, I heartily recommend Bingo Love, the triumphant graphic novel by Tee Franklin with art by‎ Jenn St. Onge ,‎ Joy San and‎ Genevieve FT. 

Hazel and Mari met at a bingo night back when they were young. Although they fell in love, they were separated by family and society not ready to accept them for who they were. Decades passed and they each went on to marry, have children and support their families, but when they are reunited, their love rekindles. Whether society – and more importantly – their families, can accept them as they are, is the body of this story.

There are many things to like about Bingo Love. Available in print and as a digital comic, this story about two black American women, living lives with roots in church and family, finding true love despite everything, is something that the world of graphic novels was ready and waiting for. That Bingo Love is also a real-life success story of a team of women of color, who built the book through crowdfunding, eventually licensing it to a large national publisher, is worth celebrating. This is the money that mainstream comics companies are passing over in favor of retread Batman and Avengers narratives. It’s worth saying this and, if we care about comics, it’s worth listening to. These stories, these creators, deserve the limelight and deserve our support.

Even more importantly for us here at Okazu, Bingo Love gives us something we rarely get a chance to enjoy – the after “happily ever after.” It’s a rare look at adult women in love, dealing with real-world issues that queer women actually have to deal with. For that, this would be a must-read, but Bingo Love is so much more.


Art – 7 Utterly squee
Story – 9
Characters – 8 Even the ones that make you angry, you can’t really hate.
Service – Not really
LGBTQ – 10

Overall – 9

In this holiday season, there’s no better idea for us to highlight and support women of color creators telling the stories they want to tell. And in return you’ll get a sweet love story that spans American history and looks forward to a better future for all the Hazels and Maris out there.

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LGBTQ Comic Essay: The Big Book of Bisexual Trials and Errors

December 11th, 2017

Elizabeth Beier’s The Big Book of Bisexual Trials and Errors strikes that rare balance between self-reflection and redemption that we so desperately need in 2017. Equally importantly, this tale of bisexual life is honest, and eschews the kind of apology or explanation that make other books about bisexuality tiresome.

By eschewing explanation or teaching, Beier allows readers to immerse themselves wholly in her experiences, and learn who Elizabeth Beier is through her own eyes. (I want to make that plain, because the Elizabeth Beier I know is, unsurprisingly, more attractive and vivacious than the one she sees.) And, to some extent this book is less about dating than it is Beier opening up the choose-your-own-adventure that is her life to us for our entertainment.

Beier’s art highlights the beauty and nobility of the people she draws except, almost predictably herself. Her best moments are reserved for others…until that linchpin moment on stage, when she discovers her own radiance. (a moment made even more triumphant by the loathing with which she had previouslyregarded herself. ) It’s uncomfortable to see that deeply and intimately into a person’s head  – moreso when one knows and likes that person. For that reason, I found the book uncomfortable from time to time, but no more than any other equally navel-starring, autobiographical comic essays. 

Ultimately, Beier’s tale of self-acceptance and the beautiful renderings of the people around her make this book an absolute joy  to read.


Overall – 8

When Beier flies, she soars. A fantastic first book and here’s hoping that she’ll soar even farther now that she appreciates her own wings.

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LGBTQ: The Further Fattening Adventures of Pudge, Girl Blimp

November 24th, 2017

Ah, the 1970s. I hated them. Born too late for the drugs and sex, I only got to enjoy the velour and the bodysuits. In fact, on December 31st, 1979 at 11:59 PM I said, “Well thank god that’s over.”

I find stories about the 1970s even more excruciating than the 1970s themselves, I’m not a very nostalgic person. Reading about idealistic young baby-boomers going to the city, living in squats and doing lots of drugs makes my skin crawl. I mean, sure, if it worked for you, great. But all I see is Hepatitis C. I know, I’m a square. ^_^; Nonetheless, I recommend reading The Further Fattening Adventures of Pudge, Girl Blimp.

In the 1970s, Howard Cruze famously curated Gay Comix, among which was the work of pioneering lesbian comics creator Lee Marrs, with her touching story of a small-town girl coming to the big city of San Francisco in hopes of finding something like love (or, sex, that would be fine too.) Pudge is, as her name indicated, overweight, and while that isn’t really relevant to her story, it’s easy to see that it would resonate with an entire generation of young women struggling to be more than the guy-next-door’s wife whose husband bought her a new girdle every birthday. And being a relic of that earlier time, this book is not at all what we might expect in terms of body size acceptance. “Not politically correct” seems vastly understated.

The art is very “American Comix,” style crowded; messy and hard to follow, often intentionally, with very loose panel structure.

Pudge does things that seem rather cliché now – she attends women’s sexuality workshops in which they look at their own vulva, smokes pot, lives in a commune in which no one is really competent to keep it running, works on a co-op newsletter always on the edge of bankruptcy, participates in street marches, etc. (It’s a little like the 1970s are a comic book that didn’t becomes rare, everyone has a copy and we’ve all read it.)

Pudge spends a lot of time pursuing sex and when she finally has it…is unimpressed. It’s not until she has sex with a member of her women’s group that it all makes sense to her. And her life making sense to her is the actual story here.

But more than just being yet another relic of an age, The Further Fattening Adventures of Pudge, Girl Blimp is a story of the beginning of a movement.  In the 1970s, young women were rejecting the plans that were laid out for them by their parents and picking up the bricks and nailbats we carried through the AIDS crisis and which we’re still carrying today to fight our way against an establishment who wants (needs) us compliant and silent. And the beginning of America gay comics, a story we are still very much in the middle of.


Story – 7
Art – 6
Characters – 7 Earnest, rather than likable
LGBTQ – 5 Lesbian sex is the mindblower
Service – Sort of. There is nakedness and stuff, but it’s not really salacious…..

Overall – 7

It’s not a lesbian story per se, but it also is.

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Western Comic: Strong Female Protagonist, Volume 2 (English)

November 13th, 2017

In 2015, Molly Ostertag and Brennan Lee Mulligan successfully crowdfunded the first volume of their webcomic, Strong Female Protagonist. I positively gushed about it in my review, because it provided me with all the nuance and adult thought I had ever craved in a comic. And this year, Molly and Brennan concluded a second successful Kickstarter for Volume 2. 

Strong Female Protagonist, Volume 2 is an amazing, thoughtful, densely-written, nuanced superhero comic.

Volume 1 was pretty intense, so, one has to ask, where does the series go in Volume 2? I’m not going to lie to you, it goes in a very dark direction…but one that makes perfect sense and is wholly consistent with the idea of “super-powered people in the real world.”

While Allison is attempting to have what approaches a normal life at school, she is 1) developing new powers and 2) still struggling with the collateral damage caused by her work as a “hero.” She’s trying to date, and finding herself encountering serious social problems, including an increasing need for inclusiveness and understanding and a rejection of privilege…all to a backdrop of a government which wants to register all biodynamics.  And, on top of all of this, Alison thinks that one of her former teammates may be behind a rash of murders. It’s a lot to handle for Alison…and the reader.

There are a few bright spots, even in the middle of this. Significantly, Feral’s story is given an almost miraculous handwave, which allows her to use her biodynamic body to help people and live a more normal life. And so, we are treated to Feral and Alison going out to a lesbian bar and Feral naturally picking up a few women. Who wouldn’t love her? 


Art – 8 Clear, strong art
Story – 10 All the nuance. ALL OF IT.
Characters – 9
LGBTQ – 3 Feral, ftw!

Overall – 9

Strong Female Protagonist, Volume 2 is not yet available in retail, but if you have ever asked yourself, “No, seriously, what would it be like to have superheroes in the real world?” this should go on your holiday wish-list when it becomes available. In the meantime, feel free to hop over to the Strong Female Protagonist website for the heads up when it goes on sale.

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