Archive for the LGBTQ Category

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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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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Event: Queer Manga Talk at Harvard University on November 9th

October 25th, 2017

I’m extremely excited to announce that I have once again been invited to speak at Harvard University for Prof. Keridwen Luis’ Gender and Fandom class.  I’ll be speaking about Online Fandom and how it was at least in part responsible for laying foundations for the LGBTQ manga that is currently seeing such excellent sales figures. 

There will be some extra room for folks to attend (although seating is limited), so if you are in or near Cambridge MA and are able to make a midday class, please do let me know! 

I’ll be presenting How Online Fandom Made Queer Manga Possible at Emerson Hall, 305 on November 9, from 12-1.

If you can’t make it, no worries, I’ll be posting the text on the Yuricon Essays pages!

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LGBTQ Comic: Red as Blue

October 24th, 2017

Red as Blue, by filmmaker and poet Ji Strangeway with art by Juan Fleites, is a story of June Lusparian, an outcast in high school in a 1980’s Colorado town. With a non-Anglo background and two moms, neither of whom seem to be particularly supportive, June is unmoored, adrift and lost. Co-captain of the cheerleading squad, Beverly, falls for June. Despite sabotage and backstabbing from her co-captain and “good Christian” Kimberly, Beverley is able to awaken and support June’s talents in music and songwriting. But all is not well in Paradise. As the books reminds us, “And forgiveness never falls from heaven of its own accord.”

June’s been left to fend for herself for so long, she’s almost feral when we first meet her. She’s 15 going on infant, as she watches the other students in the school only half understanding what the things they are doing even mean. She’s got no particular place or group in the school and everyone, it seems, wants to hurt her, encouraging her to disappear. Until Beverly.

Image result for romance comics pagesThe story is presented as a screenplay, rather than a narrative. Chapters are punctuated with illustrated pages of chapter highlights, like…what am I thinking of….you know, arty knockoffs of those 60s romance comics covers with broken-up narratives. The choppiness of the format fits neatly with June’s own broken life.

I had a lot of feelings as I read Red as Blue, not all of them pleasant. To be brutally honest, I had a hard time liking June….and the problem was entirely with me, not with her. I wore my own intellectual elitism throughout my school years like armor. I knew that if anyone was attempting to harass me, the problem was with them. It bothered me on so many levels that June just assumed that she was the problem. Additionally, June is neither well-educated nor particularly clever on an instinctual level. Her survival skills are minimal. And I found I despised her for it. Which put me in the shoes not of the protagonist nor her love interest…but of her tormentors. So wow, that’s a thing I hadn’t ever felt before. It was not a good moment for me.

In those moments of hating just how toxic Kimberly is and hating June for not fighting back against Kimberly, and not understanding her own betrayal of Beverly, and just sort of letting life be shitty and not understanding herself at all, I found the illustrated pages to be a respite. Like, seriously I needed a respite from being a shitty person. Gawd.

But what starts rough and ugly, somewhere about the thirtieth horrible thing that happens to June suddenly, almost imperceptibly, gets less ugly. Even as the crises are building towards an explosion, and Paradise High cruises towards a tragedy, suddenly you realize that June is more eloquent than she’s previously been, that her understanding is less confused. Like she had been living in a wilderness and had been rescued. 

By the end of the book, when June is able to express herself with profound beauty, your cannot help but realize that Beverly was the Fairy Godmother and the Prince. And yet, as I read the final pages, I’m still the Evil Stepmother, because I fuckin’ abandoned June. Like her mothers. I just let her ride her waves of self-loathing, because she wasn’t fighting back. But she was and it was Beverly who saw it for what it was, not this reader.


Story – 9
Characters – 8
Art – 7
Lesbian – 9

Overall – 9

Red as Blue 1, Erica 0. I concede. Book wins.

I have to very seriously thank Dany for introducing me to Ji and thank Ji for the advance copy. It slayed me and I think I am about half angry and half happy about it, but am not sure. I want people to read it and be put through the same meat grinder and see what comes out the other side.

Red as Blue will be out in 2018. Sign up here to be notified when it’s released

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LGBTQ Comic: Sugar Town

October 18th, 2017

Hazel Newlevant is an award-winning queer artist whose work has been mentioned here before. Some years ago I picked up If This Be Sin by her and I knew she was a talent I wanted to keep track of. Today I have the pleasure of introducing you to her newest work, Sugar Town

Before we get in to particulars, there’s a really important thing I need to be clear about: Sugar Town is…nice.I wanted to tell you that upfront so when I describe it, you’re not stressed out, looking for the conflict. There isn’t any. You can just relax and enjoy the comic and not be waiting for the boot to drop. 

Sugar Town follows the meeting of Hazel and Argent, two poly women, at a club in Portland and their subsequent relationship. Argent is a sex worker and has other female lovers and Hazel’s got a great guy, Gregor, waiting in New York for her. And none of this is a plot complication. 

In fact, there is no plot complication. Hazel and Argent meet, dance, celebrate Hazel’s birthday together, and fall for one another, to a backdrop of all the other pieces of their lives being pieces of their lives. It’s all very nice. Really. ^_^ 

Newlevant’s art has a soft, warm, squishy feeling. You can imagine what embracing Argent or playing with Hazel’s hair feels like. No hard lines here, it’s all cake and tears of joy. Sugar Town is a great comic – exactly what I expect from Hazel Newlevant.


Art – 8
Characters – 8
Story – 8 It’s “girl meets girl” without artificial drama
Lesbian – 10
Service – 2 on the principle that some people think like that

Overall – 8

It’s worth reading Sugar Town, then handing it around to all your friends and saying, “Look, we can just have this. It’s perfectly okay.”

You know what I’m doing this week? Working though a HUGE pile of manga and comics with great LGBTQ content. Isn’t that amazing?! I’m so happy….

Thanks very much to Hazel Newlevant for the review copy!

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