Getting Graphic: Cool Queer Comics

blueisthewarmestcolourWith Julie Maroh’s ‘Blue is the Warmest Colour’ recently adapted into an award winning film (to be released February 13), graphic novels are becoming an increasingly popular form of queer storytelling. Here are five examples of quality Sapphic, gay or otherwise gender-defying narrative comics:

1.       Fun Home – Alison Bechdel

Known for her long-running iconic series ‘Dykes to Watch Out For’, Alison Bechdel is a queer cartoon heavyweight. ‘Fun Home’, her heartbreaking memoir that tells the story of her coming out as a lesbian alongside the demise of her mysterious, closeted father is arguably her best work. Bechdel has been meticulous in chronicling her own life and this is clearly evident in the beautiful way that she weaves parallels between the lives of herself, her parents and influential works of literature. The graphic novel was also recently adapted into a musical which premiered at New York’s Public Theater in September 2013.

2.       Stuck Rubber Baby – Howard Cruse

Howard Cruse is known for his comic strip ‘Wendel’ which was published in ‘The Advocate’ for much of the 1980s. His much acclaimed novel ‘Stuck Rubber Baby’ tells the story of a white, working class young man named Toland coming to terms with his homosexuality against the backdrop of the Southern U.S. town Clayfield in the 1960s. As Toland discovers his own identity he must also come to grips with a turbulent America in the midst of the Civil rights movement.

3.       Calling Dr. Laura – Nicole J. Georges

Another diary-based comic, ‘Calling Dr. Laura’ is the story of Nicole J. George’s struggle to confront her mother after she discovers that her biological father, who she had been told was long dead, was alive and kept secret from her by the rest of her family. The discovery sends her on a quest to discover the truth about her family and to reveal the truth about her own sexuality. Known for her work doing animal portraits, Georges’ illustration and hand-drawn lettering are stunning and her story is told in a charming manner free of self pity.

4.       Batwoman: Hydrology – J. H. Williams III, W. Hayden Blackman, Amy Reeder.

‘Batwoman’ is part of DC Comics’ ‘New 52’: the 2011 relaunch of their entire line of ongoing monthly superhero comics. Much hubbub occurred when the creators announced that the series’ protagonist Kate Kane would be a lesbian. In the past DC has faced a lot of criticism for their portrayal of female characters, but ‘Batwoman’ is certainly a step in the right direction. Kate Kane is enigmatic as the central ex-military, heiress crimefighter. A beautifully illustrated addition to the superhero genre.

5.       DAR! – Erika Moen

Spanning six years, ‘DAR!’ is the autobiographical chronicle of Erika Moen, starting as a college art student and identifying as a lesbian and following her as she becomes a self-sufficient cartoonist and enters a world of confusion when she falls in love with a man. The series offers a number of hilarious vignettes about love, relationships, and the queer community. It is also fascinating to follow from the beginning and observe the development of her artistic style and her sexual identity. You can read all of ‘DAR!’ on her website.

Sophie Joske

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