Let’s Talk Comics: LGBTQIA+ Titles

Detail image of Batgirl waving a large flag, one side is the American flag and the other side is a rainbow Pride flag.

Detail from interior, Love is Love (2016). Art by Rafael Alburquerque.

June is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQIA+) Pride Month. LGBTQIA+ is an acronym used in the Library’s collection policy statement to signify lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual. In honor of Pride Month, I wanted to highlight titles and anthologies within our collection that either include queer characters, were created by LGBTQIA+ talent and creators, or serve as memorable firsts in comics history.

Why does LGBTQIA+ representation in comics matter? In an interview with Reading with Pictures (a nonprofit organization that promotes literacy through the use of comics in the classroom), Sarah Elkins, a panromantic asexual writer who’s worked in comics since 2008, states: 

“It’s important to have different identities represented in comics because it not only helps people feel like they’re not alone, helps to educate people who may be looking for the right words to describe themselves, and also helps to inform people of other orientations and identities. Representation in comics helps people overall become more accepting of one another including themselves.” 

Memorable moments:

  • When the character of Batwoman (aka Kate Kane) was revealed in the spring of 2006 (52,#11), her lesbian sexual orientation was announced at the same time. 
  • Miss America, aka America Chavez, is Marvel’s first Latin-American LGBTQIA+ character to star in an ongoing series. 
  • The first appearance of a same-sex wedding in mainstream comics is featured in Astonishing X-Men, #51 (August 2012). In this issue, written by Marjorie Liu, superhero Northstar weds his longtime partner Kyle Jinadu. 
  • Created by writer/artist Dan Parent, Kevin Keller is the first gay character to appear in the Archie Comics universe and premiered in Veronica #202, published in September 2010. 
Two men in black suits hold hands in front of a crowd of superheroes. Text reads: Marvel 51, Astonishing X-Men.

Cover of Astonishing X-Men, no. 51 (2012) depicting the marriage of Kyle Jinadu and Northstar. Serial and Government Publications Division.

Woman with dark hair and American flag glasses and outfit appears to be coming towards you with fist raised for a punch. Text reads: America Marvel 1.

Cover of America, no. 1 (2017) featuring America Chavez. Serial and Government Publications Division.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comic anthologies:

Love Is Love: A Comic Book Anthology – In this book, the “comic book industry comes together to support the survivors and honor those killed at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, on June 12, 2016. Writers and artists from across the globe have created exclusive new material expressing their sorrow, compassion, frustration, and hope, all inspired by the tragic event. In doing so, they celebrate the victims, survivors, and their families while also spreading a message of peace and inclusion” — page 4 of cover.

Thumbnail image shows a figure dressed in futuristic clothing and goggles with long blue hair holding a staff with three lanterns attached at the top. A dragonesque alien create with long fangs stands just behind the figure. Visible text reads: BEYOND.

Cover of Beyond: The Queer Sci-Fi and Fantasy Anthology. Small Press Expo Collection, Serial and Government Publications Division.

Several layers of sketched head portraits of people in multicolor. Text reads: QU33R.

Cover of Qu33r featuring comic representations of the 33 contributors. Small Press Expo Collection, Serial and Government Publications Division.

A black silhouette of a human head with a large multifaceted, multicolored ball inside sits over a background with a variety of colors and patterns. Text reads: Gay Genius.

Cover of Gay Genius. Small Press Expo Collection, Serial and Government Publications Division.

Thumbnail image shows a woman in white waving a rainbow flag, leading a crowd of people. Visible text reads: love is love.

Cover of Love is Love (2016). Small Press Expo Collection, Serial and Government Publications Division.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Others include (but are certainly not limited to): Be Gay, Do Comics (public library) from The Nib; Qu33r; Beyond: The Queer Sci-Fi and Fantasy Anthology; Gay Genius: Comics; and Embodied: An Intersectional Feminist Comics Poetry Anthology (find it in a public library). 

Items from the Library’s Small Press Expo Collection: 

Tender-Hearted is a collection of autobiographical comics and Melodica contains themes that focus heavily on LGBTQIA+ subjects and issues and is written for a young adult audience. Other favorites include Robot Tot, Secure Connect, and I Love This Part

Thumbnail image shows a person playing an accordion with four small figures atop either side of the accordion--two figures on either side--playing instruments. Visible text reads: melodica.

Cover of Melodica. Small Press Expo Collection, Serial and Government Publications Division.

Thumbnail image shows a retro square television set close-up, turned on, with an out of focus image. Visible text reads: ROBOT TOT.

Cover of Robot Tot. Small Press Expo Collection, Serial and Government Publications Division.

Thumbnail image shows a pattern of layers of squares in one large box. The cover is in peach color with dark blue smudged over the top of the image. Visible text reads: secure connect. carla monir.

Cover of Secure Connect. Small Press Expo Collection, Serial and Government Publications Division.

Thumbnail image shows two young woman sitting in front of a cityscape, leaning against each other, sharing earbuds and listening to something on a phone-like device. Visible text reads: i love this part. tillie walden.

Cover of I Love This Part. Small Press Expo Collection, Serial and Government Publications Division.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Underground Comics:

Gay Comix (later Gay Comics) is the title of an underground comic series published from 1980–1998 with the tagline “Lesbians and Gay Men Put It On Paper!”

Webcomics:

As the Crow Flies – A webcomic by Melanie Gillman is a story about Charlie — a queer 13-year-old girl who finds herself stranded in a dangerous place: an all-white Christian youth backpacking camp. It has been nominated for the Slate Cartoonist Studio Prize (2013) and an Eisner Award (2014).

What’s Normal Anyway? A webcomic About Being Trans Male is a comic that discusses the trans male experience through the story of Mel, who takes the big risk of being himself and transitioning from female to male. This comic aims to add another voice representing a part of the wide spectrum of human diversity.

More LGBTQIA+ standouts to consider: 

For more, check out the Queer Comics Database, a list of 50 noteworthy queer comics from Comics Beat, and LGBTQIA+ Pride Month Resources.

Do you have any favorite comics of your own? Please let us know in the comments! And Happy Pride!

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