I find it’s often difficult to switch off one’s feminist brain and get into not-so-progressive entertainment. (Not that I particularly want to support anti-feminist work!) But where do you go for a bit of fun in such a kyriarchal world? Well, I’ve found a part of my answer with webcomics.
If you’re not familiar with webcomics, they’re essentially serialised comics posted on the web, generally published one to three times a week. I love this community of creative, vibrant people putting their work out there in the world and communicating directly with their audiences. I particularly like to hang out in the queer section of the webcomics world, although sometimes the undersupply of older or non-white characters gets a bit much. But aside from all that, I love how supportive these artists and writers are of each other, raising funds and awareness for each other and causes that matter to them, as with the LGBT Webcomic Charity Art Auction, for instance. There’s a load of beautiful artwork and explorations of identity and life experience to be found. And also a lot of fun. That’s the way to do progressive artistry in my book!
Here are some of my favourites. They’re not all pure progressive win, but they’re a cut above what one tends to find when you’re looking to be entertained. I’m linking to the first page of each of those without a set homepage so that you can avoid spoilers.
Blue is a lovely comic by Patricia Grullon, who is much loved in the lesbian webcomics community. The two leads, Chris and Laci, are charming, and it’s great to watch the art evolve, gaining realistic body shapes that are so rare in this kind of work. See my review.
Girls with Slingshots by Danielle Corsetto is the rather popular story of best friends Hazel and Jamie. There’s a lot about love (not just straight love!) and negotiating life as a young adult. There is a certain character you’ll almost definitely find… off-putting, to put it mildly, but she gets her comeuppance eventually.
Gunnerkrigg Court by Tom Siddell is very readable, and a good pick for any age group. It’s a story of the scientific, the supernatural and the plain funny, set in a mysterious school. Gunnerkrigg is of feminist interest for its resourceful, layered heroines, Annie and Kat, who will make you grin.
I Was Kidnapped By Lesbian Pirates From Outer Space!!! is the first webcomic I ever got into, just because of the title. It’s the work of Megan Rose Gedris, who is considered the queen of all lesbian webcomics. It’s fast, it’s funny, it’s ‘50s style. A lovely punchy take on pulp comics.
Khaos Komic by Tab Kimpton is just plain cool. It’s one story from what will eventually be eight points of view, extended just a little with every one. You’d think it a set up too clunky to work, but the artist does it so well. It focuses on the lives and relationships of a group of friends figuring out their sexual and gender identities.
Misfile is by Chris Hazelton. It’s about the complications after an angel misfiles Ash’s papers in the ‘girl’ filing cabinet and accidentally changes Emily’s date of birth. They’ve got to get the angel, Rumisiel, back into heaven so he can set everything right.
The title of Red String by Gina Biggs refers to the red string of fate that ties people to their true loves. It’s about destiny, and the destiny you make for yourself. The webcomic weaves itself through the lives of best friends Miharu, Fuuko and Reika as they work through growing up, family expectations and becoming oneself.
I am very fond of Simply Sarah by Sarah Skye. A teenage lesbian romance, it tackles a lot of issues faced by young queer people around family, school and what’s going on on the inside. The artist has taken a lot from her own life. And I’m fond of the beautiful pastel colours.
Sister Claire by Yamino is just laugh out loud material. I hardly need tell you anything more than the tagline: ‘Pregnant Nun: Holy Crap!’ But I will, because that’s a bit of a shock. Sister Claire is a very sweet nun who has been given the honour of being pregnant with the messiah. There’s also Nun-Fu. Yeah.
YU+ME: dream is my very favourite. If you don’t read anything else on this list, read this. It’s another by Megan Rose Gedris. There is an amazing plot twist at the end of part one, which would be a cliché at the end of a story but is inspired for the middle. The quintessential lesbian webcomic.
So please do check those comics out, support some lovely independent artists and be entertained. Share your favourites in comments.
A note for those of you with visual impairments: I’m afraid that none of those comics have descriptions! (And of course, webcomic artists, famously xkcd, often use the alt text for added jokes or commentary rather than descriptions.) If you’re interested in webcomics nevertheless, I’d recommend that you check out the Oh No Robot comics transcripts service, which has quite a lot of comics on file.
This has been a pretty light-hearted post, but I want to leave you with something more serious. I’d also recommend you check out the Transgender Day of Remembrance Webcomics Project. I don’t think it’s running this year, but there’s lots of previous work there. Don’t forget that it’s the International Transgender Day of Remembrance on the 20th.
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