Jess Waters ‘17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
With a black Captain America, a Muslim Ms. Marvel, and a gay X-Men wedding — not to mention DC’s lineup of more female-led comics than anyone in the business — mainstream comic books seem to finally starting to catch up with the diversity of their readership. LGBTQ+ representation, in particular, is taking a forefront with advances such as the successful funding of New York’s first LGBTQ+ Comic Con and Robert Chandler’s upcoming documentary on the history of gay comics in America. With this in mind — and the holidays on the calendar — there’s no time like the present to celebrate these victories and the queer comics fans in your life. Here’s eight gift ideas from Emertainment Monthly to help you get started:
1. John Lustig has been buying up the rights to old runs of cheesy romance comics and republishing them online with sassy, cynical, and sometimes sexy dialogue since 2009. For the holiday season he’s teamed up with LGBT comic publisher Northwest Press for a queer-inspired line of tote bags. Think lesbian Lichenstein, but with more lip. The best part? They’re the perfect size for putting comic books inside. Pick up a tote here for $10, or e-book copies of Lustig’s rewritten comic books here for $2.99 each. 2. Though Optimus Prime may now be better known for the Michael Bay films than the comic series which have been hot-potatoed between publishers for the past 30 years, he’s been a staple of every geek’s childhood. This shirt’s reinvention of him as Optimus Pride, discoing away in a purple feather boa, has only made him more relevant to some of us in our adulthood. Better yet, the Hey, That’s Super! is a small, LGBT owned and operated business with dozens of other superhero-related designs — most of them based off of puns.
3. Speaking of childhood staples, for a comic lover of any age there’s always Archie. The debut of the Kevin Keller, the Archie universe’s first openly gay character, in 2010 was met with controversy from the widespread public and even an angry boycott from One Million Moms. That did nothing to stop writer and artist Dan Parent, who published two series starring Kevin, documenting his life from a bullied and struggling middle schooler student to class president at Riverdale High. You can get the collected editions of both series here for $14.99.
4. If you’re still looking for stocking stuffers or a last minute Secret Santa exchange gift, look no further than these cute pins, all less than $2, all bearing the I Am Comics logo, part of a campaign by We Are Comics to raise awareness for diversity and representation in the comics industry. With pins bearing the asexual, bisexual, transgender, pansexual, genderqueer, and gay pride flags, you should be able to find something to represent any LGBTQ+ comic lover in your life — and if you can’t, they’re happy to take custom orders
5. Celebrate your status as a (gay) American patriot with this shirt from Geeks OUT, a volunteer group dedicated “promoting queer and queer-positive artists, creators, and works, calling out and combating homophobia and lack of diversity in geek culture, and balancing a queer viewpoint on mainstream geekery with a geeky view of the LGBT world.” The profits from t-shirt sales go towards their current project — bringing Flame Con, New York’s first LGBTQ+ Comic Con, to life. So invest in a shirt, or check out the other queer-positive, feminist merch in their store — it’s for a good cause!
6. For a younger LGBTQ+ comics fan, look no further than the collected edition of Pride High, featuring the first seven issues of the award-winning series about a gay-straight alliance at a school for superpowered teens. Starring a diverse range of characters, lots of laughs, a little heartbreak, and plenty for any queer or questioning middle or high school student to identify with, Pride High is absolutely the way to go. The only potential downside is that it is available in digital only, in PDF or Apple’s EPUB format. Pick it up for $10, here.
7. On the other end of the spectrum — the one that’s definitely not for children — this Bent Comix sampler is a perfect collection of queer and edgy comics for those to whom sex, drugs, rock n’ roll, and more than a few gay werewolves are of no concern. For the punk rockers, horror fans, freaks, geeks, and jokers in your life, all should find something to love in this compendium from ten different creators, available in digital format here for only $5.
8. Don’t worry that the mainstream has nothing to offer the LGBT crowd — living comics legend and ex-Batgirl writer Gail Simone is writing the reboot of Secret Six, the fan-favorite, morally-ambiguous secret-Ops team featuring canonically bisexual Catwoman. With Ken Lashley’s gorgeous art, dramatic action sequences, and well-written queer women, this series is bursting with potential. Order the first copy here for $2.99.