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Be Gay, Do Comics

Be Gay, Do Comics
Creators list follows below
Matt Bors, editor & publisher
Eleri Harris, features editor
Matt Lubchansky, The Nib associate editor
Sarah Mirk & Andy Warner, contributing editors
Delta Vasquez, editorial assistant
Mark Kaufman, book design
Mady G, cover artist
IDW
$24.99 (print) / $19.99 (digital)

Queer History, Memoir, and Satire from The Nib

Be Gay, Do Comics is a collection of one page comic strips and short stories that originally appeared on The Nib website and then collected in a crowdfunder. As I recall the book solicitation appeared in the June issue of Previews which was preceded, thanks to abominable pandemic planning by the federal government, comic shops being closed and new comics weren’t to be had anyway. During that closure a large stack of unread graphic novels and trades taunted me but I was too occupied shouting curses at the Oval Office occupant’s “pressers” and trying to keep my pandemic paranoia in check to put much of a dent in it. By which I mean I was hungry for something more and having visited The Nib on more than one occasion my interest was piqued.

Nib associate editor and contributor Matt Lubchansky lays out the spirit of the collection in their foreword: comics as both a community and a method to hear others and to be heard by others; and subversiveness as I call it or in Lubchansky’s words, “Queerness has always been transgressive, regardless of its legal status.” Lubchansky briefly mentions how the comics community of which they’re a part helped make life better and while my own circumstances that led me to finding a nerd community are quite different, the life changing and affirming aspect is the same. Comics as a storytelling device reminds me of a conversation I had with an art professor some years ago. She knew of my interest in comics and while most of my memory of that talk is fuzzy it was she who mentioned anthropologist Clifford Geertz and his description of culture as “the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves.” Lubchansky’s thoughts on the transgressive nature of queerness prompted for me a line from the 1927 romance novel Nadja by writer and poet Andre Breton, who transgressed art and culture along with fellow surrealists and Dadaists. “Beauty will be CONVULSIVE or will not be at all.”

Now about the book. There is no shortage of talent with forty creators making for very diverse representation in these pages. The creative roster is a tantalizing mix of names – some are familiar to me, others I’ve heard of, some are new. Being cursed of late with a short attention span should’ve been an obstacle to my reading, but as I started to read I found myself more engaged with each new strip and finished the book in two settings. Certainly the format brevity was a factor but most importantly the the overall quality of the work is what kept my attention from wavering. The subtitle’s promise of history, memoire and satire makes for an interesting variety; the stories and strips are alternately deeply personal, illuminating, and acerbically witty. To single out a few examples for discussion would be unfair to the rest. To discuss all of them would be unwieldy. What can I say then? These stories are proof that the comics medium is a vital route for sharing queer lives and stories, to inspire and connect in ways with other queers we may never meet. Further, I think this book honors the efforts of pioneer queer comics people such as Howard Cruse, Mary Wings, and Lee Marrs and at the risk of coming across as incredulous, Be Gay, Do Comics has given me much food for thought and I am better for having read every single page.

A few words about the book itself. My physical copy feels good and substantial in my hand. The paper has a matte finish and a nice feel. Thanks to Mark Kaufman who added page numbers! It’s a small detail that seems to go unnoticed.

The following list of creators is in order of their contribution. Some creators collaborated and several have more than one contribution.

Joey Alison Sayers, Kendra Wells, Matt Lubchansky, Sasha Velour, Shelby Criswell, Levi Hastings, Dorian Alexander, Rosa Colon Guerra, Alison Wilgus, Hazel Newlevant, Binglin Hu, Scout Tran, Sage Coffey, Dylan Edwards, Sfe R Monster, Shing Yin Khor, Alex Graudins, Mady G, Trinidad Escobar, Bianca Xunise, Sam Wallman, Kazimir Lee, Robyn Jordan, JB Brager, Breena Nunez, Taneka Stotts, Ria Martinez, Delta Vasquez, Anonymous, Maia Kobabe, Sarah Mirk, Archie Bongiovanni, Jason Michaels, Max Dlabick, Nero O’Reilly, Elsabet Run, Mariah-Rose Marie, Alexis Sudgen, Melanie Gilman, Julia Bernhard, Josh Trujillo

Please look for Be Gay, Do Comics at your local comic shop or book store (ISBN 9781684057771) because they need support more now than ever. If you can’t find it in stores or prefer digital you can find it on Amazon.

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