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The State Of Queer Comics With Joe Glass

Recently Gay League asked a number of LGBTQ+ people involved in comics either as creators critics, journalists, or academics to comment on a variety of topics and questions to gauge through a queer lens their experiences, insights, thoughts about and hopes for the much beloved four color medium. Writer Joe Glass (The Pride and The Pride Adventures) focused on several questions that were most important to him. Gay League is proud to share this with our readers!

Gay League: Representation is important! How does your work reflect representation? Has it changed for you? Do you have stories to mention about how representation in your work has affected people or how you’ve been affected by people commenting on your work? Is it important to you that your work have a positive impact on people outside of the group(s) represented in it?

Joe Glass: The Pride, I’ve been pleasantly surprised, was accepted very well by straight readers (especially women readers). Part of what I hoped to do was show how ‘gay issues’ are just human issues, and that’s been taken on board. It’s been nice to hear from some about how they never thought about some of the topics covered that way before. And it’s been well received among the queer community too. What has been sad to see however is how some have dismissed or even derided it as somehow offensive or tired to the gay community, predominantly focusing on one character in particular, FabMan, our camp gay hero.

In the majority of cases when that happens, they haven’t even read the book just seen one character and it’s kinda felt like internalised homophobia, an anti-femme toxic masculinity that is sad to see in the gay community. As a camp, flamboyant gay man myself, it can’t help but hurt. But thankfully, it’s also not something I see all too often, as overall, the response is incredibly positive.

I like to think that The Pride tries it’s best to be representative of as much of the community as possible. That we try to show many different kinds of each part of the community. Going forward, we’re aiming for greater intersectionality too, including disability, neurodiversity, and more.

Line art Maxime Garbarini Inks and colors Hector Barros

GL: What are your thoughts about the state of LGBTQ+ representation in mainstream comics – current, past, and future. Why does a sustainable solo queer title seem elusive? Is it really just a matter of dollars supporting a book and if so, is it possible to persuade people to spend their money on a book they dislike?

JG: Mainstream comics still need to do more, tbh. It often feels like while efforts are made, the same energy and effort isn’t put behind them like other, heterosexual characters. It’s awesome that characters of differing ethnicity and religions are getting a full force of marketing backing and support, but queer characters just don’t feel like they get the same.

I don’t think anyone should have to buy comics they dislike, but I don’t think that’s what has been the problem. A lack of understanding that the community they cater for may not buy comics in the traditional LCS model, but maybe more book stores or digitally – so if they are only paying attention to single issue physical sales, then it can mean a series not getting to last long enough to find and secure and strong enough audience to keep it going. It kind of links back to what I say about showing commitment and support to something.

GL: If stories are what we tell ourselves to help us understand our world, what kind of stories should we tell ourselves today and in the near future?

JG: I think it’s important we keep focusing on the strength of our community, and of what we’ve achieved, just as much on the rise of voices that would harm us. I think we need more stories that are colourful and bright and positive about the community, as well as fighting back against those against us.

Follow Joe Glass on Twitter! The Pride seasons one and two and The Pride Adventures may be purchased from Comixology. A limited, self published first edition of The Pride volume one in print may be purchased from Big Cartel.

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