Pop culture guru David Ferguson is back with a round-up of must-read comics for your Pride season.
As it is Pride Month, I thought I’d give people a few comic book options that show the diversity of queer stories that are available for people to read. I’ve kept it to non-superhero stories this time!
Created by Jason Lutes
Jason Lutes’s historical fiction about the decline of the Weimar Republic and the rise of fascism is seen through the eyes of its citizens. I picked this book up as I enjoy learning more about history but got more than I bargained for as I hadn’t realised how much the book explored the queer community in Berlin. (Basically parts of history not explored in the school curriculum). Jason Lutes has worked on this series for more than 20 years and you can feel the authenticity.
Our Dreams At Dusk
Created by Yuhki Kamatani
Tasaku is terrified that he will be outed by his fellow students. As he contemplates ending his life, he sees someone else jump from a nearby window. He ends up discovering a drop-in centre populated by a diverse group of people (I am being vague as I don’t want spoil how the story unfolds). This quickly became my favourite Manga as it touches on so many different queer stories that you don’t see told elsewhere. (Note: the series is out of print but can still be obtained digitally on apps like ComiXology)
Written by Steve Orlando. Art by JD Faith
Virgil tells the story of a gay Jamaican cop who dreams of escaping to Toronto, where he can live his life in the open. Betrayed, beaten, and banished by his own after being outed, he fights his way across Jamaica for revenge. Steve Orlando is one of my favourite writers, who writes so many different queer stories (I could have done a list with his books alone). Fans of John Wick will probably enjoy this one.
Created by Luke Healy
While not being a ‘fully’ LGBTQ+ focused book, the main story, The Unofficial Cuckoo’s Nest Study Companion, has some queer characters getting tangled up in the attempts of the main character, playwright Robin Huang, to adapt a seemingly unadaptable book for the stage while raising a teenage daughter. It is the sort of representation I enjoy as it’s like everyday life, with an everyday mix of characters, and gay people just are. It also contains a shorter LGBTQ+ story, The Big And Small.
Created by Anna Fitzpatrick
Originally released as a webcomic, creator Anna Fitzpatrick funded a collected edition (volume one) via Kickstarter. It is set in a future where the earth has been crushed, destroyed and dominated by mysterious creatures called ‘angels’ and humanity lives in a protected bubble. This is where we find a scruffy, queer character called Ivy. She’s a teenager who finds it difficult to fit in with everybody else due to being different (and is mistreated for being so). This all changes when she meets Rosa who she instantly befriends but then Rosa disappears and Ivy has to try and save her. It’s beautifully drawn with believable characters and a wonderfully rendered setting, a perfect addition to your Pride comics read.
The Magic Fish
Created by Trung Lê Nguyễn
Tiến, like a lot of teenagers, is struggling to come out to his parents. However, he literally doesn’t have the right words because his parents are struggling with their English. A wonderful and unique coming out story that tackles the issues in a way that is accessible to people of all ages. The idea of Tiến navigating his life through fairytales is what drew me in as I wanted to learn more about Vietnam and I got that and a whole lot more. Add it to your Pride comics must-read list.
To Kill A Man
Written by Steve Orlando and Phillip Kennedy Johnson. Art by Al Morgan
As a child, James Bellyi watched his father die in the ring at the hands of a gay fighter, in retaliation for slurs he threw at him. Today, James is one of the most popular fighters in the world…until he’s outed as gay by an opponent. Abandoned by his team, his fans and his sponsors, he has to turn to the one person he never wanted to see again. I like the unique angle of why it is hard for Bellyi (and his mother) to deal with his sexuality. It is also a commentary on the homophobia in certain sports.
The Impending Blindness Of Billie Scott
Created by Zoe Thorogood
Billie Scott’s debut gallery exhibition opens in a few months. However, she discovers that she is losing her sight and within a fortnight she’ll be completely blind. She decides to find ten people to paint for her exhibition. This book gives you an realistic look at contemporary Britain and the people being left behind at the bottom of society. I was drawn in by Zoe Thorogood’s unique art style (and recommendations from various creators) and have to say that the writing is equal to the art.
That’s just a small selection of comics to check out during Pride. You can read more of David Ferguson’s pop culture musings here.
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