Archive for the LGBTQ Category


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.

Ratings:

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.

Ratings:

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 Manga: Shimanami Tasogare, Volume 3 (しまなみ誰そ彼 )

December 8th, 2017

Shimanami Tasogare, Volume 3 was fascinating. I might even go so far as to say riveting. It was also 50 shades of uncomfortable.

Tasuku has made a lot of progress with the team rehabilitating the cat mansion, but he’s a little stuck in his own life. He no longer wants to die, but he’s not having much fun living. The school culture festival is upon him and he’s being exhorted to participate when all he wants to do its get out of there. For better or worse, he’s put in close proximity with the subject of his crush who, when told, doesn’t seem to take it badly…and kind of takes a protective role towards him.

The work on the cat mansion is going well, volunteers are visiting, things are getting built when a classmate of Tasuku’s shows up to help. He confronts Tasuku about the LGBTQ folks; Taskuku denies that the group has people like that. But, a mother of one of the children recognizes the leader, Nanami-kun, as a former classmate at her girl’s school. Tasuku had never considered that Nanami might be trans and feels confused – he had perceived Nanami as an attractive man. Tasuku struggles with understanding how to handle his own denial and feelings.

Nanami-kun is invited to his school’s OG (Old Girl) get together. He goes, but leaves after well-meant but inappropriate, painful and clueless questioning wears him down. The scene is cringe-making, we feel sympathy for Nanami-kun, and are really embarrassed for how stereotypical the women are being.

At school, Tasuku confronts his his crush, Tsubaki-kun. For a short while, things feel better. But when Tsubaki starts to get passive-aggressive, teasing one moment, then discarding Tasuku another,it becomes a different kind of uncomfortable.

Tasuku runs into Nanami-kun, they have a heart to heart and I am once again reminded how critical it is for young LGBTQ people to have older folks to talk to, even in literature.

Work picks back up on the cat mansion. Tasuku confronts his classmate and Nanami confronts his former classmate, who insists on misgendering him, while the folks of the Consultation Room rally around one another.

As the book draws to a close, Tasuku and Tsubaki come to blows, and he learns that Tsubaki is wallowing in a fair bit of confusion, himself.

It was good, real, drama. The kinds of things mostly completely missing from BL and Yuri – the real-world issues that LGBTQ people deal with.

Ratings:

Art – 9 The art has genuinely sublime moments
Story – 10
Characters – 10 Real people
LGBTQ – 10
Service – N/A

Overall – 10

This volume was excellent. I renew my hope that an American manga company is able to license this series some day soon. It’s nice to be able to add this series to the short list of books with realistic gay, lesbian and trans characters in manga.

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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.

Ratings:

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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Seven Seas Licenses “My Solo Exchange Diary” by Kabi Nagata

November 14th, 2017

“Seven Seas Entertainment is thrilled to announce the license acquisition of the manga My Solo Exchange Diary by Nagata Kabi, the heavily requested sequel to 2017’s smash hit My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness!

In this follow-up to the viral sensation, Nagata Kabi uses engaging diary comics to explore her personal issues surrounding mental health, identity, and intimacy. Her relationship with her parents is growing more difficult than ever, and she struggles with the idea of living alone for the first time. Join her on her heart-wrenching, relatable journey through the challenges of adulthood.

Seven Seas will publish the My Solo Exchange Diary manga title for the first time in North America on June 5, 2018 for $13.99 USA / $16.99 CAN.”

The Japanese volume, Hitori Koukannikki (一人交換日記), will be available in December 2017 from East Press.

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