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Gina Kamentsky

This interview originally appeared in Prism Comics Guide to LGBT Comics 2003 edition.

Gina Kamentsky is the creative soul behind the comic strip T-Gina, which she describes as “the tale of a fabulous Transgender gal and her search for validation and a decent cup of coffee.”

JOE: How did the idea for the T-Gina strip originate?

GINA: Growing up I was a big fan of serial comics like “Batman” and “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century,” and work by Windsor McCay and George Herriman. Later on became consumed by “Mad Magazine,” “Plastic Man,” “Captain Marvel,” and “Archie.” My parents were very encouraging regarding art making. Drawing and creating comics was a natural activity in our house.

After Art school (Philadelphia College of Art in the late ’70s) I became a big fan of Raw magazine. Attending a presentation by Art Speigelman and reading Scott McCloud’s books inspired me to start thinking about comics as something I might one day pursue.

Put comics on the back burner until 1995 when I came out as Transsexual. Around this time there had been a few comics produced in local Transgender newsletters and national publications such as “Tapestry,” mostly one panel gag cartoons and clip art. As a Trans-woman, the steps of transitioning — having a body of knowledge which is the result of growing up socially as male yet living as a woman — makes for some interesting stories. There is so much pain in the transgender/ transsexual community; I wanted to express something else…wonder and humor.

My first comic was around 1995. “I’m a Bin” was about a young man who is convinced that he is a Rubbermaid storage bin (really!)…running a parallel to the whole silly “woman/man trapped in a man’s/woman’s body thing.”

JOE: Artists create art for a number of reasons. How does creating stories for T-Gina satisfy you? Do you find a spiritual or healing aspect in your art?

GINA: I love the scale of comics, how something so compact can be used to produce a compelling narrative. I love connecting with an audience, finding that my own issues are not that different from other folks. I find it’s a great way to deal with my own fears and issues.

JOE: What are some of the themes that you talk about in your work?

GINA: Why do we have this need to be recognized for who we are/want to be…can we exist just as easily without recognition? Personally, this concerns identity as a woman, Transsexual, artist and Jew. The rules and expectations we impose regarding gender can be very silly, it’s fun to point this out. As transgender, we struggle to extract ourselves from various stereotypes yet often fall into new ones. Being a transsexual woman involves issues that are universal, everyone is transitioning in some way…Why this fixation on Matt Damon?

JOE: Have you ever surprised yourself while exploring gender identity in your strips?

GINA: In issue #1, Gina had a conversation with her penis about how it would be affected by Gender Reassignment Surgery. This was a good way to come to terms with a somewhat scary process. I like to use Gina to express the more gender transgressive part of me, in reality I’m more conservative and happy to blend in.

JOE: There’s a great sense of playfulness in your work. Would you like to discuss this playful quality, and its importance to you?

GINA: Besides producing T-Gina, I invent toys for kids, create kinetic sculpture, teach art, create animation, play upright bass. Playfulness infuses everything I do, even cooking!

What understanding would you like for people to have after they’ve read about the adventures of T-Gina?

GINA: Be brave, have fun, throw out the stupid rule books, make love!

Please note that this interview preserves Kamentsky’s original grammar and choice of terms to describe herself at time this interview was conducted in 2003.

Visit the home of T-Gina.

September 5, 2017
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