Archive for the LGBTQ Category


LGBTQ: Love is Love Anthology (English)

April 3rd, 2017

On June 12, 2016, in the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida a self-loathing, broken man decided that the best way to handle his problems was to take it out on innocent strangers. He hated his ethnicity and his sexuality, so he chose a gay nightclub that served as a refuge for LGBTQ people of color. Instead of taking his own life, he took 49 other people’s. For no goddamn good reason. And, it being America, it was easy for him to get the weapons and ammunition he needed, because we wouldn’t want to regulate that even as much as we regulate driving a car.  

So one more asshole guy got to destroy lives and we got to mourn…again.

 IDW and DC Comics teamed up to create a tribute comic anthology and so Love Is Love was born to raise money for survivors and victims’ families.The 1st print edition sold out quickly, which is testament to the desire to do good so many people have. I picked up a copy of the Digital Edition.

The anthology is beautifully done, with a lot of different perspectives…many of them exceptionally beautifully rendered. 

And it made me so angry I could barely get through it.

Batman was not going to help those kids. Neither was Superman or Wonder Woman. Every time a DC character made an appearance, I wanted to scream. Particularly during a story by Dan fucking Didio, the woman-hating fragile white dude  who had to be pulled from DC panels some years ago because he was so rude to fans, especially to women. What does that say about the horrible wasteful loss of life? What lesson did he learn imagining Batman in rainbow colors, lecturing us on loss? Fuck that so very much.

/Deep breath./

Legitimately, every use of DC characters fell flat as a board for me. Even the exceptionally pretty Batwoman with Gay Pride Flag by Rafael Albuquerque.

It was just all so “Nope.”

That said, there were a lot of genuinely touching stories. The ones that worked, dropped the facade if the superhero tie-in and talked about how heroic it is to be gay and joyful in a world with fragile cowardly assholes with guns.  I particularly like the one-pager by Teddy Tennebaum, Mike Huudleston and Corey Breen that called the bravery it takes – still – to love freely and openly “super-love.”

I was very glad to see openly gay artists like Ed Luce and Paige Braddock included.  I also very much appreciated those well-known straight artists who took the time to portray LGBTQ people, People of color, gay kids and trans kids, at The Pulse itself, rather than stupid Batman. 

Ratings:

Overall – I don’t know what to say. Probably it’s an 8, but it made me so angry I can’t even.

I’m pretty sure I’m not sorry I got this collection and maybe one day I’ll be able to read it without white-hot searing rage.

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LGBTQ: Power & Magic: The Queer Witch Comics Anthology

April 2nd, 2017

Aw yeah. Last year, Joamette Gil teamed up with a number of creative talents to launch Power & Magic: The Queer Witch Comics Anthology on Kickstarter and I jumped all over that so fast. ^_^

Although I have the PDF, when I saw the print version (both of which are available on Gumroad) yesterday at the MoCCA Arts Festival, I threw even more money at the group. I know I talk about the comics ecosystem a lot here. but the bottom line is that creators cannot eat your admiration. I was glad to back this project, it was my pleasure to buy the book, but it was pure joy to actually read. This scan of the cover does not do it justice – the colors are resonant.

I consumed the whole book on my train ride home, and can’t think of a single story I didn’t like. ^_^ But a few of them had me choked up and one or two even threatened gushy happy tears which is awfully awkward on the train.

Power & Magic is, well, it’s kind of a book I’ve been waiting for. By and about people of color, inclusive in every way, including really lovely stories about gender, ability, mental and physical health. “Fluid,” by Veronica Agrawal was a particularly nice tale about expectations and gender roles. And magic. Multiple ways of looking at multiple traditions, fantasy and real magic, paganism and Santeria, natural and human-made.

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before on Okazu, but I’m a pagan, so it was really nice to have a collection about “magic” that wasn’t exclusively about Harry Potter-type wizards. Not that I object to that, but sometimes I’d like to see a little more depth. “Te Perdi” by Maria Llorens and Devaki Neogi and “As The Roots Undo” by Joamette Gil gave me that depth I was looking for.

I also quite liked “Your Heart is an Apple”by Nevedita Sekar which riffed on modern dating and classic fairy tales and had a fucking fantastic ending. And Aatmaja Pandya’s “You’ll Know When It’s Time To Go” spoke to ancient quest stories and their place in our modern searches for acceptance.

I also want to stand up for “The Whisperer” by Ariann Hokoki, which is a parable about mental health and healing and love that was one of those stories that brought tears to my eyes. 

“The Shop That Never Stays” by Gabrielle Robinson and Hannah Lavarte was fabulous. “Deaf Together” by fydbac is an absolutely gorgeous silent comic. And honestly, there were no stories that weren’t a pleasure to read. I feel like I must apologize to anyone I haven’t mentioned specifically, though, because really, every story was uniquely excellent.

Ratings:

Overall – 9

Can you tell I loved this book? I did. It made me actively happy to read this collection. I hope you’ll feel the same way and pick it up on Gumroad, in PDF or softcover print version.

(I don’t doubt that they magicked the fuck out of this book, by the way. And good for them if they did.)

 

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2017 Yuri Manga in English Updated List

February 26th, 2017

Back in September, I wrote a piece about upcoming Yuri manga in the USA. Well, since then, more titles have been added and I wanted to do an update of series coming up this year. Some of these items are on the Yuricon Store, some are not yet, so I also thought it would be a good time to explain how the Yuricon Store works. At the moment,  I focus on adding new items , and every few months on a really boring day, go through to see if older links still work. I also try to NOT add items that have no cover image. It’s a pain in the butt to remember to go back and add in the images. ^_^ 

Manga companies are absolutely shitty about getting cover images up for pre-orders, because they need to get 5 million approvals from the Japanese companies before they are approved. Which means there are books that are coming out in spring with no cover images yet. So they aren’t on the Yuricon Store yet. In case you ever wondered. 

Since links on the Yuricon Store go to Amazon.com anyway, for today, I’m just going to link directly. But don’t forget that the Store is searchable in English and Japanese and if you’re not sure about an item, you can always contact me!

In any case, here is a more updated roundup of the Yuri Manga titles for 2017* with all the pre-order links that exist so far:

Seven Seas

Bloom Into You by Nio Nakatani

Volume 1 | Volume 2 | Volume 3| ongoing

This school life drama follow Yuu, a girl who does not have romantic feelings for anyone and Touko, the President of the Student Council, who falls for her. Yuu admires Touko, but is not sure of her feelings.

 

 

 

Hana and Hina Afterschool by Milk Morinaga 

Volume 1 | Volume 2 | Volume 3

Hana meets Hina while working at a (not-allowed) part time job after school. They become friends and start working together. Will they become something more than just friends? Probably, since this is a Milk Morinaga  story. ^_^

 

 

 

Kase-san Series by Hiromi Takashima

Kase-san and Morning Glories | Kase-san and Bento |Kase-san and Shortcake

A breathtakingly sweet romance series between Yamada, an average girl who loves flowers and the star of the school track club, Kase. One of the most realistic teen romances I’ve ever read in Yuri manga.

 

 

 

Kindred Spirits on the Roof Manga Complete Set by Hachi Ito and Aya Fumio

1 Volume

This set includes Side A and Side B of the companion manga to the popular Visual Novel Kindred Spirits on the Roof, with cameos from game characters. Spirits Sachi and Megumi still hope to turn Shirojo into a Yuritopia!

 

 

My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness by Kabi Nagata

1 volume

This manga was serialized on Pixiv, as Nagata details her struggles with depression, an eating disorder and finding friends and companionship as a lesbian.

 

 

Secret of the Princess by Milk Morinaga

1 volume

Another school life drama from Milk Morinaga. Miu thinks that, as a princess, she needs to find herself a prince. But when she practices being princessly with Fujiwara she finds that sometimes a princess doesn’t need anything other than another princess.

 

 

Viz

After Hours by Yuhta Nishio

Volume 1 | ongoing 

Emi and Kei meet at a nightclub, and spend the night together. An adult relationship story (although the art is a bit infantilizing.)

 

Revolutionary Girl Utena Manga Box SetRevolutionary Girl Utena Manga Box Set by Chiho Saito and Be-papas

 2 volume set

Every year Utena receives a mysterious postcard. This year, the postcard leads her to Ohtori Academy to look for the prince who saved her as a child. Instead she’s put in the position becoming the prince to the Rose Bride. This is the high-quality treatment that this fantasy series deserves.

 

 

Sweet Blue Flowers by Takako Shimura

Volume 1 | Volume 2 | Volume 3| Volume 4| Volume 5| Volume 6| Volume 7|Volume 8|

Fumi hasn’t seen Akiko in years, but her friend is back in town and once again they are thick as thieves. When Fumi starts dating an upperclassman at her all-girl’s school, she tells her best friend and gains strength. Shimura  drew on classic Yuri tropes for this “S”-style school romance, but with a deft touch and compelling characters drags the whole genre into the 21st century. 

 

Yen Press

A Kiss and White Lily for My Dearest Girl by Canno

Volume 1 | Volume 2| Volume 3| Volume 4 | Volume 5 | ongoing

This ongoing school serial begins with two girls, Yurine Kurozawa and Ayaka Shiramine, who could not be more opposite if they tried and the relationship that one of them wants desperately to deny.  Later volumes follow other couples at the same school as well as circling back to Ayaka and Yurine.

 

 

 

Murciélago by Yoshimura Kana

Volume 1 | Volume 2 | Volume 3| Volume 4| Volume 5| Volume 6| Volume 7|Volume 8| Volume 9| ongoing

 This extremely adult, extremely gruesome, madcap “violence Yuri” story follows psychopathic killer Koumori Kuroko and her partner Hinako ,as they track down and kill other killers for the police. There are no good guys here. Everyone is broken, the stories are gross, sometimes with side of extra creepy and the lesbian sex is weird. ^_^ I like it, but do not recommend it.

 

Udon

Rose of Versailles – Still no pre-order available. I’m hoping for a Q2 release. 

 

 This manga is not Yuri, but is gay and you definitely want to add it to your  orders!

Pantheon

My Brother’s Husband – Gengoroh Tagame

Volume 1| Volume 2 | Volume 3 |ongoing

This adult life drama follows Mike Flanagan, a gay man from Canada who visits his late brother’s home in Japan, in order to learn about his childhood. He meets he husband’s estranged brother, Yaichi, who now has to deal with things he never thought he’d have to deal with, like his brother Ryoji’s sexuality. It’s a great series and I’m going badger you all into reading it. ^_^

 

And there we have it – an updated list on Yuri manga worth spending your money on in 2017!

I wanted to thank you all, because of you, we hit the 2016 Okazu Patreon goal this week. (Now on to 2017 goal – paying all our Guest Reviewers!) So I thought about how to best reward you all for your support and decided that a big chunky list of good stuff to get with pictures and links that took me hours and hours to put together was just the ticket. ^_^ Thank you again!

   

*Everything that I wish to have on this list is on the list. If you do not see a title here I did not want it on this list.

 

 

 

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LGBTQ Manga: Collectors, Volume 2 (コレクターズ)

February 21st, 2017

On Yuricon, we have an intentionally very broad definition of Yuri.

Yuri can describe any anime or manga series (or other derivative media, i.e., fan fiction, film, etc.) that shows intense emotional connection, romantic love or physical desire between women. Yuri is not a genre confined by the gender or age of the audience, but by the *perception* of the audience. In short, Yuri is any story with lesbian themes.

This is intentionally broad to allow fans’ perspective take the driver’s seat. In essence – if you (or I, or anyone else) think it’s Yuri, it is. 

Here on Okazu, we have a slightly less broad concept around how I, personally identify Yuri vs something that I might identify as LGBTQ.

“Yuri is lesbian content without lesbian identity”

As I see it, once the character (or the characters around them) see the character as lesbian, that’s a door that can’t be closed. Any story I write about a woman who identifies her romantic partner as “her wife” is, by it’s nature, going to signify them as lesbian because, as we’ve learned in the last decade marriage is most definitely a political act for a same-sex couple. It’s political because, even if the country where it takes place doesn’t recognize the partnership, it forces everyone around the couple to related to them as a couple.

If I tell you I have a housemate, you may decide on our relationship to fit your level of comfort. When I say I have a wife, I have defined that relationship for you and now you must figure out how to deal with it.

All of which is to say that while Collectors, Volume 1 was a terrific Yuri manga, Collectors, Volume 2 (コレクターズ) is a terrific LGBTQ manga. In my review of Volume 1, I praised the series being grounded in reality, and especially in the reality of a relationship. As I said, “Life. What could be funnier, more poignant or more interesting?” In Volume 2, we get something more…something that I knew I was missing, but didn’t want to be demanding and ask for. We get lesbian identity.

Typical of creator Nishi UKO, the identity issue is integrated seamlessly into the narrative. No awkward Marvel-esque “She likes girls” banners, just a co-worker who casually notes that Shinobu and Takako are a couple, then talks away an acquaintance’s immature perspective on that fact. So Shinobu is out to at least this coworker or he’s smart enough to see the obvious.

But what actually lifts this book out of Yuri into LGBTQ (oh, nice hierarchical slam there Erica. Sheesh, elitist much?) territory is the entirety of the final part of the book. As Shinobu and Takako consider, not for the first time, moving in together, they have a fight. Not a snarky, bickery fight, but a real fight. Takako is insensitive, Shinobu is rude, Takako throws the contents of her glass at Shinobu and leaves, then leaves town to go to her family’s home.  I cannot for the life of me remember any other chapter of any Yuri manga that so accurately portrayed a real fight between a couple, and I’m hard pressed to come up with too many other manga that have done so. (And now that I think about it, all of them are Josei.)

Takako disrupts her younger brother, Takeyuki’s, life by sticking around. He’s been clued in for a while that she has a lover, but has no idea who it is. When he sees the number calling her over and over on her phone, he calls back, surprised to find that it’s his sister’s friend Shinobu. He tells Shinobu he thinks his sister has had a fight with her lover. Shinobu says she’s on the way. The scenes of Shinobu taking the late train are some of the best panels I’ve ever seen in manga.

When Shinobu arrives, Takako comes outside to speak with her and, at last, the penny drops for Takeyuki. Although Takako has never said anything, Take and Dad take in the fight, the body language and the whole thing becomes clear.  While they do not say, “I am a lesbian” at all during this, there is recognition of them as a couple by Takako’s father and brother and that, specifically, sets this manga apart.

This is followed by a touching ending. The final words of the series are “Let’s live together” with furigana that says it louder for the folks in the back -“Let’s get married.” ^_^

A magnificent end to one of the most deeply satisfying manga about adult women ever, by one of my favorite artists. 

I look forward to whatever Nishi UKO-sensei has planned next, but for now, I’ll just bask in the glow of my choice for top manga of 2016 for all the right reasons.

Ratings:

Art – 10
Story – 10 
Characters – 10
Yuri – 10
Service – 1

Overall – 10

Collectors was perfect. Thank you.

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Upcoming LGBTQ Lectures and Events

February 15th, 2017

Get out those calendars! It’s time to plan our next few months of LGBTQ Comics and Manga events and lectures.

February

This weekend, on February 19, 2017 our friends at Yaycon, this year in Amersfoort, Netherlands, will be celebrating Yaoi and Yuri and love! I had a lovely time at Yaycon a few years ago and hope to one day return. 

 

March

I am pleased as punch to be part of Rainbow Manga along with Gay Manga’s Anne Ishii at Hunter College in NYC on March 10, 2017. The lecture should be open to the public and as soon as I have a link or address for you, I will be sure to let you know. Hunter College is 695 Park Ave. in New York City. Anne and I will be speaking about LGBTQ manga in Japan and here in the US!

April

For San Francisco-area friends, I expect you will not want to miss this year’s Queers & Comics Conference. Keynote Speakers are Tagame Gengoroh and Mariko Tamaki (and, I have all my digits crossed that maybe, maybe we’ll have Nakamura Kiyo as well. Pray for this. Pray hard.) I’ve made all my reservations, so I will absolutely be there. I’ll be participating on a Queer Manga history panel and moderating a Craft of Queer Manga panel and bouncing around like a child the rest of the time, surrounded by such awesome talent and energy. Please join me! The 2015 event was magical.

In addition to praying, the Queers & Comics Travel Fund has been created to help Q&C bring in queer creators from around the country (and world) and give them a place to stay, food, etc.  You know that queer comics don’t often have the kind of mainstream distribution that the superhero stuff gets, and queer creators are often living on the edge. If you can even offer a cup of coffee’s worth of support, you can get some great digital rewards, including ABSOLUTE POWER: Tales of Queer Villainy!  and more from Gay Manga and Northwest Press. (I also wrote to Seven Seas to see if we can get some Yuri manga on that rewards list. We’ll see if they are interested.)

May

Toronto Comics Arts Festival is around the corner and on my radar once again. After a few years away – and missing it badly – I’m going to do my very best to be part of the 2017 event. (I cannot wait to experience the new de-improved DHS processes at the airport. Ugh.) TCAF is held for free at the Toronto Reference Library and external venues in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, May 13-14. Traditionally, it has always been very LGBTQ-friendly and inclusive and manga friendly and inclusive, unlike some other comics events, for which manga is just a thing some people sell there. There’s usually a Queer Mixer before the event, as well. Guests include Tagame Gengoroh, Jillian Tamaki and Sandrine Revel, all of whom have worked on LGBTQ content. Also, our friends at Sparkler Monthly are usually there and this year they have even more Yuri than ever before. It’s a don’t-miss event for folks who can make it.

My schedule fills up pretty fast these days, so if you want me at your event, as a moderator or to present, do please contact me. Here’s to a year of amazing queer manga events!

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