Exclusive Excerpt from When It’s Time by Zane Riley!

Today on the site, we have an excerpt of the newly released gay NA When It’s Time by Zane Riley, the third book in the Go Your Own Way series! It just released yesterday, so check it out!

In the New Adult series that began with Go Your Own Way, Will Osbourne and Lennox McAvoy must now face the challenges of a long distance relationship that will determine their future. Despite the fulfillment of his childhood dream, Will is suffocating in too-loud, too-dirty, too-busy New York City. Lennox, who has always relied on Will for guidance, is thriving in Boston without him. As Lennox embraces his promising new life and rediscovers old family, Will searches for a future of his own that won’t tear them apart.

Interlude * Amazon * iTunes * Smashwords * B&N
The Book Depository

Lush green trees whipped past the car windows. Lennox McAvoy pressed his forehead against the glass and watched the hills rolling taller and wider. Early June had burned into a blazing July, only dampened by the storms that thundered on their side of the mountains. This summer hadn’t been very humid. The air wasn’t heavy and dry enough to crack his throat; the sunlight darkened his brown skin but didn’t burn until he peeled. The natural green that filled the world out here seemed to absorb the heat in a way cities and suburbs couldn’t.

Everyone else in the jeep had their windows down. Oyster had raised himself high enough to stick his head through the sunroof, but Lennox kept his window shut. Beside him, his boyfriend, Will Osborne gestured wildly as he spoke about his new college friends.

“We met during an Ice Breakers game. They wanted to meet up once we’re all on campus.”

“That’s great, honey,” Karen said. She tucked a strand of brown hair into her baseball cap.

Eastern High Varsity Baseball. The logo from their old high school flashed in the sunlight. He and Will had graduated almost two months ago now.

“Did you get to sit down with your advisor?”

“Yeah, my schedule’s set. Did you get yours done?” Will elbowed him.

Lennox glanced first at Will’s freckled face and neck, then at Will’s parents, Karen and Ben, in the front seat. Ben was driving, but their eyes met in the rearview mirror. He looked away. Overhead, Oyster barked into the jeep’s slipstream.

“Should have made you drive with that new license. Get some practice in.”

Lennox grunted.

“Come on, spill. How was it, kid?”

“Fine,” Lennox said, but one word never cut it with Will or Karen.

“A lot of sitting around listening.”

“And your classes?”

“We pick them after we move in.”

Karen frowned. “That seems really late.”

Lennox slumped. “I don’t make the rules. They give us placement tests first.”

Will kissed his cheek for the seventh time since Lennox had hopped off the bus in New York City. “I’m sure it’s fine, Karen. Music majors are different, that’s all.”

“I guess that’s true. Did you play?”

Lennox shook his head. He hadn’t done anything musical during the day and a half he’d been at Berklee College of Music in Boston. The visit hadn’t been worth it. All day had been filled with lectures, smaller class discussions about life on campus, an exhausting campus tour, and then a brief social event to end the day. He’d hovered in the corner for five minutes before leaving.

“It was just a lot of talking,” Lennox said.

Will caught his eye. It wasn’t much, but it was enough for Lennox to realize this conversation wasn’t finished, not between them.

***

Zane Riley is a transgender writer who wrote his first work of fan fiction in the fourth grade. He is a recent transplant to Vancouver, Washington where he spends his time watching long-distance baseball games, hiking, and exploring the musical depths of the Internet. His first two novels, Go Your Own Way and With or Without You, were published by Interlude Press.

Facebook: http://facebook.com/zanenebula/
Tumblr: https://twitter.com/ZaneNebula
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ZaneNebula

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Guest Recs from Erin Ptah: Webcomics with Bi & Pan Characters!

Webcomic recs, continued! This is the roundup I promised last time.

It can be hard to make it clear when a character’s supposed to be bi/pan. A lot of webcomics aren’t long enough or romance-focused enough to give the characters multiple love interests, and there’s not always an organic way to have people just announce their preferences — especially in fantasy universes where words like “bisexual” don’t exist. (To be fair, it wasn’t a word in our universe until the ’60s. And “pansexual” is even younger….)

Here’s a set of strips that do pull it off. For purposes of this list, it’s all in-text representation. If a character’s sexuality is specified by the author but has yet to be involved or even referenced in the strip, I’m leaving those for someone else to rec.

Today’s theme: Webcomics with explicitly bi/pan characters!


sample-powerballad

(1) Power Ballad by Molly Brooks

As personal assistant to an international pop star, Meera Verma has her hands full trying to keep the gorgeous and talented Carina Peterson primped, polished, and mostly on time. As personal assistant to a Los Angeles-based masked vigilante, Meera has her hands full trying to keep the mysterious and reckless Skeleton alive and out of trouble

Superhero adventure drama, complete. Full of competence kink, especially for Meera — she figures out Carina’s secret superhero identity within days of working for her, and Carina learns about this when Meera has her costume clandestinely repaired. Plus: funny, snappy dialogue; identity porn with regard to other characters; interweaving of faux social-media reactions whenever their adventures make the news.

Meera is openly into women from the beginning; Carina eventually comes out to her as bi, in a scene with a realistic mix of sweetness and awkwardness. They spend a lot of the strip having mutual crushes that they’re too awkward to confess, but it feels natural and organic with the plot, rather than dragged-out for drama. It helps that they’re busy with the overarching plot (a case about a fashion designer’s work being stolen).

…And then eventually they do get together, and finish working the case as girlfriends, and it’s all-around great.


sample-girlswithslingshots

(2) Girls With Slingshots by Danielle Corsetto

Slice of life adventures of best friends gregarious Jamie and cynical Hazel.

Comedy, complete (but currently doing full-color reruns of the original B&W strips). Mostly-realistic (there’s a talking cactus thrown in) stories about a bunch of struggling twentysomething artists/retail workers.

A lot of the cast is straight, notably Hazel, but there are a couple of lesbians in their friend circle from the beginning — like Thea, who gets married over the course of the strip. And then there’s Jamie, who identifies as straight for the first few years of the strip. Especially after one instance of f/f experimentation, where they part as friends but it doesn’t rock her world.

Some time after that, she meets Erin. Things get romantic. And intimate. And…stop just short of sex, because Erin’s on her own little arc of self-discovery, with “asexual” somewhere at the end.

Jamie’s sexuality is complicated — she struggles with pinning down the nuances of exactly what she’s into, and hesitates over all the terms her friends suggest to sum it up. (Worth noting: the phrase “biromantic heterosexual” wasn’t in wide circulation at the time.) I don’t remember if she ever settles on a single label, just that she does get back to a place of comfort and self-understanding over the whole thing. And none of this derails the writing or characterization, or undermines the strip’s ability to deliver regular punchlines.


sample-oglaf

(3) Oglaf by Trudy Cooper and Doug Bayne

NC-17 fantasy comic. Better have a really open mind.

Sexy magical comedy, ongoing. Mostly-disconnected short arcs and strips, about a whole range of characters and situations. You can tell the authors have a generally healthy outlook about sex, even when the characters don’t. Sometimes pokes fun at fantasy tropes. Mostly NSFW. (To the point where, in the archives, the “safe” strips are the ones that are marked.)

The sample image here is from a short arc about the Snow Queen, who needs to have sex in order for winter to end, but every man who tries to satisfy her gets his relevant bits frozen off. At last, a female mercenary shows up with a strap-on. Which gives you some idea of the tone of the rest of the series.

To be clear, this isn’t an “all about sex, therefore everyone is bi” strip, it’s an “all about sex, and all sexualities are represented” strip. Obviously not for every reader! But if you like fun dumb sex jokes, this is the motherlode.


sample-homestuck

(4) Homestuck by Andrew Hussie

It’s a story about some kids who are friends over the internet. They decide to play a game together. There are major consequences.

Fantasy/gaming adventure, complete. Four human kids play a video game, which turns out to be an immersive-reality experience that destroys their universe, and they have to win the game in order to make a new one. They’re joined by a group of alien kids — the trolls — who played an earlier round of the game, the one that created our universe in the first placce.

It’s a huge, sprawling, ridiculously complex series. Includes animation, chatlogs, flashing images, and mini-games. If you’re just trying to get into webcomics, it might not be the easiest place to start. Or it might suck you in so hard that it ruins you for the rest of the genre. Could go either way, really.

Troll romance is…culturally complicated. (If you’ve picked up one thing about Homestuck by fandom osmosis, this is likely to be it.) The relevant point here is that they’re default-bi, which pays off in various relationships as the story goes on. There’s also at least one human whose romantic prospects include a male human and a female alien.

(If you look at both pre- and post-Scratch incarnations, at least. And this is the point where I hit the brakes on Trying To Explain Homestuck, because if I go any deeper into the backstory we’ll be here all day.)


sample-skinhorse

(5) Skin Horse by Shaenon K. Garrity & Jeffrey C. Wells

The stated mission of Project “Skin Horse,” a federal Black Ops department located in the notoriously pointless Annex One complex, is to aid and asisst the U.S. population of nonhuman sapients. Any humans willing and able to work there may be presumed deeply weird.

Supernatural comedy, ongoing. A government support agency that focuses on robots, demons, talking animals, and various mad-science experiments. Tip, the team psychiatrist, is a hot crossdressing human. Unity is a multitalented multiracial zombie, and by “multiracial” I mean “stitched-together parts of humans from multiple races.” Sweetheart, the leader and administrator, is a talking dog. Their job isn’t easy, but by golly they work hard at it.

Tip has an uncanny ability to attract women — including, in one instance, a female alternate-dimension version of himself. He’s also had at least one fling with a guy, Artie, who was human-shaped at the time but is technically a sapient gerbil, and recently described himself as “straight-ish” (before going on to seduce a mixed-gender crowd). Sweetheart has had male love interests in the past, and more recently has gotten crushes on women. Including an ambiguous thing with Unity (or maybe it’s gone unambiguous? I don’t remember, it’s been a while), although Unity is generally mostly interested in brains.

The strip is a sequel to the completed Narbonic, about a mad scientist and her assistants. You don’t have to read it beforehand to follow anything, but if you like Skin Horse’s general ethos and sense of humor, or if you want Artie’s backstory, it’s worth adding to your list.


Erin Ptah likes cats, magical girls, time travel, crossdressing, and webcomics. She’s the artist behind But I’m A Cat Person (featuring bi librarian Bianca) and Leif & Thorn (where Leif is into strong handsome people of all genders). Say hi on Twitter at @ErinPtah.

Guest Recs from Erin Ptah: Webcomics About Magical Lesbians!

Today on the site, Erin Ptah’s webcomics recs continue! If you missed her recs on webcomics with major non-binary characters, you can find them here. For magical lesbians, read on!

Another webcomic reclist! At first I was just going to do Comics About Women In Love, then the list got way longer than 5, and had to be narrowed down somehow. (And that’s just comics where they’re explicitly in-text wlw, after weeding out all the cases of “don’t know if this is going to the yuri place, but I’m shipping it really hard.”)

All of our heroines in this subset have some kind of supernatural powers. All of them want to get the girl. Some of them even pull it off.

Today’s theme: Webcomics about magical lesbians!

(Some explicitly identify as gay/lesbian on-panel, and with some I’m just extrapolating from the way they’re only ever shown being into women. Bi characters will get their due on a future reclist — stay tuned.)


sample-ladyoftheshard

(1) Lady of the Shard by gigi d.g.

A comic about an acolyte in love with the goddess she serves.

Sci-fi romantic drama, complete. People living throughout the Distant Stars revere the Radiant Goddess, who brought peace to the galaxy. An enthusiastic but easily-flustered acolyte accidentally causes her to manifest. (She recognizes this particular Acolyte as the one who sacrifices cute decorated pancakes at her altar.)

Their fluffy temple domesticity is interrupted by an ancient evil. It’s out to dethrone the Radiant Goddess, and mind-control her worshippers into serving it instead. You can see how this sets up the Acolyte to save the galaxy with the power of love.

A comic with a bunch of twists, none of which I predicted on the first run-through, although in retrospect they all make perfect sense. The style is minimalist — mostly pixel lineart figures on a field of black — and at first glance you wouldn’t think an artist can do much with it. Then you keep reading.


sample-lovespells

(2) Lovespells by Ryan and Sage

A comic featuring a super gay witch who falls in eventually-reciprocal love with a gay (and also asexual!) lady magic knight.

Fantasy romance, ongoing. Esther, the witch, has a lot of power but a fantasy health condition that keeps her from going on adventures. Maria, the knight, is a painfully earnest do-gooder who uses a lot of magic and wouldn’t mind a coach. Esther jumps to agree, mostly because she is thirsty as all get out, and Maria is too innocent to notice the ulterior motives.

The tone is upbeat and feel-good — the “about” page has a whole list of depressing themes that the authors assure us will not be involved — without being shallow or boring. Our heroines are charming, well-rounded, and downright fun to watch.


sample-pizzawitch

(3) Pizza Witch by Sarah Graley

Your Favourite Pizza Witch is about pizza! young love! falling in love with beautiful lactose intolerant babes and trying to woo them!! cat familiars?? and so much more!

Fantasy comedy, complete. Roxy is a witch who mostly uses her magic for pizza delivery, and gets a major crush on a customer…who can’t eat cheese. Will the power of love overcome their differences??

This one’s very short, so don’t expect a lot of depth. It’s just cute wacky fun.


sample-tnbtu

(4) The Night Belongs To Us by L. R. Hale

Hank gets attacked by a werewolf. Ada saves her life. Hank then becomes a werewolf. Ada is a vampire. Hank discovers the underground society of vampires, werewolves and more. Ada sells weed for money, and is kind of a bounty hunter. Hank is a medical illustrator. Ada is complicated. Hank is attracted to Ada. Things get complicated.

Modern fantasy drama, ongoing. There’s a supernatural bureaucracy that handles new arrivals, and normally recently-turned werewolves get mentored by the wolf that bit them — but Hank was bitten by a murder-y creep, so her new sorta-friend Ada gets the job.

Slow-burn romance, on the back burner while they deal with conspiracies, kidnappings, and not always being around to feed Hank’s cat. There’s lovely attention to the practical details of surviving in the modern world as a horror-movie monster. (Bonus: sometimes this involves Ada being smuggled through broad daylight by turning into a bat and hiding in Hank’s cleavage.)

The strip has had some unexpected hiatuses, but it’s gotten back to regular updates. With any luck this means it’s not too much longer before we get a page where they kiss.


sample-serenityrose

(5) Serenity Rose by Aaron Alexovich

Serenity Rose is small, shy, and sexually confused. She can also conjure monsters out of ectoplasm, hover 20,000 ft. in the air, and shapeshift anything she sees. Serenity Rose is a witch, one of only 57 the world over, a real supernatural oddity. And she lives in the glare of a small town that THRIVES on supernatural oddities….

Goth fantasy, complete. Sera grows up in a beautifully-rendered town that has a whole gimmick about horror, which means it’s not too disruptive when her emotional issues spawn ectoplasmic ghouls that slink off into the woods. But a teenage meltdown prompts her to hole up in a mansion on the edge of town, where she mostly stays until our story begins.

She does have a couple of loyal friends, and end up getting a mentor, in the form of a much more put-together witch/popstar she’d been admiring from afar. They’re all supportive as she wrestles with various issues, including a much-delayed reckoning with her sexuality.

The magic and the alternate-universe worldbuilding are absolutely fascinating, and the comic would be worth reading on that count alone — but also, the basic portrayal of confused young lesbian angst is more relatable than a lot of “realistic” series that comes to mind. One of the few webcomics where I’ve gone and spent money to get the print version.


Erin Ptah likes cats, magical girls, time travel, crossdressing, and webcomics. She’s the artist behind But I’m A Cat Person (where lesbian Sparrow just learned to teleport) and Leif & Thorn (where lesbian Ivy can wipe the floor with water mages twice her age). Say hi on Twitter at @ErinPtah.

New Releases: January 2018

Between the Blade and the Heart by Amanda Hocking (2nd)

Valkyries have one great responsibility: to return immortals to the afterlife by slaying them. As a Valkyrie, Malin has always known that the balance of the world rests on her ability to carry out orders. But when Malin discovers that her mother spared the life of an immortal who was destined to die, her world is thrown into chaos.

Malin not only wrestles with the knowledge that her mother might not be who she thought—she’s also thrust into the path of a gorgeous blue eyed guy named Asher who needs her help slaying the rogue immortal who destroyed his family. The balance of the world is at stake. And, as Asher competes with Malin’s ex for her love and loyalty, so is her heart.

Buy it: B&N * Amazon

Chainbreaker by Tara Sim (2nd)

This is a sequel to Timekeeper

Clock mechanic Danny Hart knows he’s being watched. But by who, or what, remains a mystery. To make matters worse, clock towers have begun falling in India, though time hasn’t Stopped yet. He’d hoped after reuniting with his father and exploring his relationship with Colton, he’d have some to settle into his new life. Instead, he’s asked to investigate the attacks.

After inspecting some of the fallen Indian towers, he realizes the British occupation may be sparking more than just attacks. And as Danny and Colton unravel more secrets about their past, they find themselves on a dark and dangerous path―one from which they may never return.

Buy it: Amazon * B&N

The True Queen by Sarah Fine (2nd)

This is the final book in the Impostor Queen trilogy

Now that Ansa knows she is the destined queen of Kupari, she is desperate to find a permanent home for her people, the Kriegere, in the Kupari lands. But as the small band of warriors crosses into the foreign territory, Ansa loses her fragile grip on her newly-acquired—and violent—fire and ice magic and puts everyone, including her love Thyra, in danger.

Inside the walls of Kupari, Elli maintains the facade that she is the magical queen, with her secret—that she has no magic at all—on the brink of exposure every day. But as she tries to prepare the citizens to protect themselves from another invasion, unrest spreads as wielders like her beloved Oskar begin to lose control of their powers.

As Kupari grows increasingly unstable, with the land literally crumbling beneath their feet, and a common enemy once again threatening everything, these two young women on a collision course with destiny must find a way to save the realm and their people from total destruction.

In this epic conclusion to the Impostor Queen series, Sarah Fine’s sweeping tale of two fierce leaders imbued with unimaginable power and called to unthinkable sacrifice finally answers the question: who has the strength to be the True Queen?

Buy it: B&N * Amazon

Before I Let Go by Marieke Nijkamp (2nd)

Days before Corey is to return home to the snow and ice of Lost Creek, Alaska, to visit her best friend, Kyra dies. Corey is devastated―and confused. The entire Lost community speaks in hushed tones about the town’s lost daughter, saying her death was meant to be. And they push Corey away like she’s a stranger.

Corey knows something is wrong. Lost is keeping secrets―chilling secrets. But piecing together the truth about what happened to her best friend may prove as difficult as lighting the sky in an Alaskan winter…

Buy it:

Sourcebooks Amazon US Booktopia
IndieBound Amazon UK iTunes
Barnes & Noble The Book Depository Target

King Geordi the Great by Gene Gant (9th)

36425840Is there such a thing as caring too much?

Geordi never thought so. He knows he’s lucky to have progressive parents who support him after they discover he’s gay, but when his dad gets overzealous, things go downhill. Geordi’s friend Toff is not only hurt that Geordi hid his sexuality from him—he’s also been in love with Geordi for months. Rather than further damage their relationship, Geordi goes along with a romance he doesn’t feel. When things start to get physical, though, Geordi knows it’s time to be honest with himself and his friends, no matter what the consequences. A tragedy is about to strike, and Geordi, Toff, and their friend Jess will need each other more than ever. For Geordi to find his strength, he’ll have to first find the courage to chart his own course in life—outside the control of his parents or the pressure of his peers.

Buy it: B&NAmazon

Down by Contact by Santino Hassell (16th)

This is the second book in the Barons series

33637825Simeon Boudreaux, the New York Barons’ golden-armed quarterback, is blessed with irresistible New Orleans charm and a face to melt your mama’s heart. He’s universally adored by fans and the media. Coming out as gay in solidarity with his teammate hasn’t harmed his reputation in the least—except for some social media taunting from rival linebacker Adrián Bravo.

Though they were once teammates, Adrián views Simeon as a traitor and the number-one name on the New Jersey Predators’ shit list. When animosity between the two NFL players reaches a boiling point on the field, culminating in a dirty fist fight, they’re both benched for six games and sentenced to joint community service teaching sullen, Brooklyn teens how to play ball.

At first, they can barely stand to be in the same room, but running the camp forces them to shape up. With no choice but to work together, Simeon realizes Adrián is more than his alpha-jerk persona, and Adrián begins to question why he’s always had such strong feelings for the gorgeous QB…

Buy it: Amazon

Falling Into Place by Sheryn Munir (17th)

37120639Romance is not for Tara. Embittered after a college fling, she vows to never fall in love again–especially since she believes there’s no future for same-sex love in her home in urban India. Then, one rain-drenched evening, an insane decision brings the bubbly Sameen into her life and everything changes. Sameen is beautiful, a breath of fresh air…and almost certainly straight. All Tara’s carefully built-up defences start to crumble, one after the other. But is this relationship doomed before it can even start?

Buy it: Ylva

Twice in a Lifetime by Jodie Griffin (22nd)

36560885When widow Talia Wasserman applies for a job with the local police department, she’s shocked to discover she’ll be working for Lieutenant Eve Poe, an officer she’d met—and been attracted to—during a long-ago citizen’s police academy workshop. Fifteen years later, the spark is still there, and no one’s currently in Talia’s life or in her bed. But there’s just one teeny, tiny problem. Eve is her boss, so she’s completely off limits.

Eve feels a sizzling connection with Talia from the very first, but Talia works for her, and that’s just a bad idea. Besides, Eve needs to focus on the person sending disturbing emails to her office, and not on the woman who quickly makes herself invaluable to the department. It’s too bad her heart doesn’t agree with her.

Then Eve is badly injured in the line of duty, and Talia’s worst fears are realized. She may lose her chance at happiness with the woman she’s come to love, and she can’t survive that kind of loss twice in a lifetime.

Buy it: Riptide

Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann (23rd)

Alice had her whole summer planned. Non-stop all-you-can-eat buffets while marathoning her favorite TV shows (best friends totally included) with the smallest dash of adulting–working at the library to pay her share of the rent. The only thing missing from her perfect plan? Her girlfriend (who ended things when Alice confessed she’s asexual). Alice is done with dating–no thank you, do not pass go, stick a fork in her, done.

But then Alice meets Takumi and she can’t stop thinking about him or the rom com-grade romance feels she did not ask for (uncertainty, butterflies, and swoons, oh my!).

When her blissful summer takes an unexpected turn, and Takumi becomes her knight with a shiny library employee badge (close enough), Alice has to decide if she’s willing to risk their friendship for a love that might not be reciprocated—or understood.

Buy it: Amazon * B&N * IndieBound * Book Depository

Reign of the Fallen by Sarah Glenn Marsh (23rd)

Odessa is one of Karthia’s master necromancers, catering to the kingdom’s ruling Dead. Whenever a noble dies, it’s Odessa’s job to raise them by retrieving their souls from a dreamy and dangerous shadow world called the Deadlands. But there is a cost to being raised–the Dead must remain shrouded, or risk transforming into zombie-like monsters known as Shades. If even a hint of flesh is exposed, the grotesque transformation will begin.

A dramatic uptick in Shade attacks raises suspicions and fears among Odessa’s necromancer community. Soon a crushing loss of one of their own reveals a disturbing conspiracy: someone is intentionally creating Shades by tearing shrouds from the Dead–and training them to attack. Odessa is faced with a terrifying question: What if her necromancer’s magic is the weapon that brings Karthia to its knees?

Buy it: B&N * Amazon * IndieBound * One More Page (signed)

The Dangerous Art of Blending In by Angelo Surmelis (30th)

32797600Seventeen-year-old Evan Panos doesn’t know where he fits in. His strict Greek mother refuses to see him as anything but a disappointment. His quiet, workaholic father is a staunch believer in avoiding any kind of conflict. And his best friend Henry has somehow become distractingly attractive over the summer.

Tired, isolated, scared—Evan’s only escape is drawing in an abandoned church that feels as lonely as he is. And, yes, he kissed one guy over the summer. But it’s his best friend Henry who’s now proving to be irresistible. It’s Henry who suddenly seems interested in being more than friends. And it’s Henry who makes him believe that he’s more than his mother’s harsh words and terrifying abuse. But as things with Henry heat up, and his mother’s abuse escalates, Evan has to decide how to find his voice in a world where he has survived so long by avoiding attention at all costs.

Buy it: B&N * Amazon * iBooks

Happy New Year!

As 2017 comes to a close, I just want to take a minute to thank everyone who’s contributed to this site, who’s shared posts, who’s purchased using the affiliate links, who’s generally done all manner of things that help keep this place going.

This site is forever a work-in-progress, and while I’m really excited about new things that’ve been added as of late, I have lots of plans for future features I think are gonna be really helpful and awesome. However, I’m one person who has a full-time job, a part-time job, and now a baby, so here’s the part where I beg everyone to please keep shopping via affiliate links as often as possible, and also to use that little “Buy me a coffee” link wherever you see it; that money will go to periodically hiring interns/assistants to help not only keep up the site and its associated social media, but work on new resources currently in progress, including Literature in Translation, a new series whose first post you can find here, and a page dedicated to historical romance organized by period/location.

Of course, I always encourage donating directly to queer people in need directly, and you still can find plenty of links to do that under Support up top; please make liberal (heh) use of them!

Aaaand that’s it! Thank you for another great year here, and looking forward to lots more reading together under the rainbow in the new year!

xoxo,

Dahlia

 

Questioning Character, Questioning Author: a Guest Post by A.E. Ross

I’m thrilled to welcome A.E. Ross to the site today to discuss a topic near and dear to my heart: writing a character who’s questioning their identity when you happen to be questioning yours. Their book, Run in the Blood, just released on Christmas, so once you check this post out, check the book out too!

***

Some people have that one crystal clear moment where it hits them like a silver spoon travelling at high velocity towards the surface of a crème brule. One solid crack and they just “get it.” For me, it came in the form of seven words. “It’s okay if you don’t like it.” I had been agonizing over the why and the who and the how for so long that I hadn’t stopped to just accept that things were fine — that i was fine — the way I am.

Some people figure out their identity quickly, and experience little fluidity. Others will spend their entire lives trying to get to the bottom of who they are. These are just two extremes, with a million unique experiences in between, but I belong closer to the second group. When I wrote my fantasy novel, Run in the Blood, I was questioning pretty much every part of my identity and I was desperate to find any kind of reflection to reassure me.

In my experience, you mostly find questioning characters in coming out stories. It’s a brief stage the protagonist goes through before accepting their identity, for better or worse. In Run In The Blood, I really wanted to include a character who maybe didn’t quite figure it out over the course of the narrative. Not a romantic lead, just someone woven into the story who was realizing that maybe there were some big questions they needed to ask themselves. After all, we’re all out there, just going about our daily lives and at the same time, wondering why there are specific parts of us that just don’t make sense when held up against societal expectations.

In Run in the Blood, that character is Del. He’s a soft-spoken, humble scout with a big heart. His sexual identity isn’t even a question for him until he reaches that moment that many LGBTQ people come to over the course of our lives, where we find ourselves in a situation that just doesn’t feel the way it’s supposed to. The main representation of a long-term relationship in his life is his parents’, and it’s a deeply unhealthy one. It’s given him a certain expectation of how his own future relationships will work, and the moment reality clashes with expectation, he hears that tell-tale crack of the spoon hitting flambé’d sugar. The surface shatters and then suddenly all you can see is the pieces, and not the way they ought to go together.

The reason it’s important to me to see questioning characters in queer literature is that it normalizes the uncertainty of dealing with fluid identities. It reassures me that it’s okay to understand that there is an inherent disconnect between who we are and who we see ourselves as, and that it’s okay to investigate that chasm. Just make sure you bring a flashlight, rope, and maybe some snacks: it could take awhile. The most difficult part of questioning my identity has been asking myself “Why don’t I like this? Why isn’t this working” and coming up empty on answers. There was no representation in media where I could see my struggle reflected. All I could find was people who had figured it out, but no indication of how they got there. When we see these questions reflected in the stories of literary characters, it helps reinforce that validity.

For Del, I didn’t want to resolve his questioning over the course of the book. He wasn’t the main focus of the plot, and I didn’t think he needed a “eureka!” moment, I just wanted to leave him on a hopeful note. If I write a follow-up, he’ll get to explore what his feelings mean and what questions he may still need to find answers to.

I am a different person than I was when I wrote this book. I’m deeply grateful to know more now than I did then, but there are so many things I’m still trying to figure out. Regardless of when or how I get those answers, what I do know is that If you’re questioning your identity, that’s a positive thing. You’re asking yourself the hard questions, and trying to get a better understanding of who you are, and that’s admirable no matter how long it takes. There’s nothing wrong with not knowing your identity immediately, and there’s nothing wrong with never really being sure. Whether your identity is static or fluid, it’s valid. If you’re not sure what your identity is, and you’re still looking for answers to those questions, you are valid. The “eureka!” moment doesn’t have to be a solid and unwavering realization of your identity. For me, it was as simple as the realization that I am fine just the way I am, regardless of how long it takes to figure out who that is.

A.E. Ross lives in Vancouver, B.C. with one very grumpy raincloud of a cat. When not writing fiction, they can be found producing and story-editing children’s cartoons, as well as producing & hosting podcasts like The XX Files Podcast. Their other works have appeared on Cartoon Network, Disney Channel and Netflix (and have been widely panned by 12-year-olds on 4Chan) but the projects they are most passionate about feature LGBTQIA+ characters across a variety genres.

You can find A.E. online at their website, on Twitter, and Facebook.

Run in the Blood is now available via NineStar Press and Amazon!

LGBTQA MG/YA in Translation

One major access problem with LGBTQIAP+ books is that so many of them are published in English and never translated into anything else. To that end, here are some great books that are (or will be; some of these are forthcoming) available in other languages. (Of course, most of these books have different titles in other languages; I’ve chosen the easiest method for myself by posting the titles in English here. If you need assistance with finding the title in its native language, please feel free to contact me or comment below.)

Please note that links were taken from a combination of Amazon and author websites, so while they may not be the right link for your location, the point is to see that the translation exists so it can be a starting point for you tracking it down. I also recognize that languages can vary by territory, and that, for example, sometimes rights are specifically purchased for Brazil and the book is not available in Portugal; I did the best I could to note such instances but feel free to leave notes/corrections in the comments.

(Caveat: I have not read any of these translations, and cannot speak to whether the queer storylines have been modified, as unfortunately certain countries are particularly wont to do.)

US = a link to that edition on American Amazon, via affiliate link

This will be a regularly updated resource, so if you are an author whose book has been internationally translated, please get in touch or comment below to have your book added! (Or make any corrections as needed.)

Bosnian and Montenegran

  • I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

Catalan

Chinese

  • Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli (Complex)
  • George by Alex Gino (Complex)
  • Every Day by David Levithan (Simplified)
  • I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson (Simplified)

Czech

Danish

  • Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
  • George by Alex Gino
  • More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera
  • History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera
  • They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

Dutch

Estonian

Finnish

French

Georgian

  • I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

German

Hungarian

Indonesian

  • Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli (Spring/Haru)

Hebrew

Icelandic

  • I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

Italian

Japanese

Korean

Norwegian

Polish

  • Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli (US)
  • Alan Cole is Not a Coward by Eric Bell
  • This is Where it Ends by Marieke Nijkamp
  • More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera
  • History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

Portuguese

(Most of these links go to amazon.br)

Romanian

Serbian

  • I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

Slovakian

  • Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Spanish

Swedish

  • Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
  • You Know Me Well by David Levithan and Nina LaCour

Taiwanese

  • Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
  • George by Alex Gino
  • More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

Thai

  • Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
  • We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson

Turkish

  • Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
  • We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson
  • The Last Beginning by Lauren James
  • Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour
  • We Are Okay by Nina LaCour
  • This is Where it Ends by Marieke Nijkamp
  • More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera
  • History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera
  • They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

Ukrainian

  • I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

Vietnamese

  • Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
  • George by Alex Gino
  • We Are Okay by Nina LaCour
  • Every Day and Another Day by David Levithan

2017 Good News Roundup of LGBTQ Reads

Continuing in the tradition that’s been happening on this blog since…last year, I’m documenting some of the many literary accolades that’ve been heaped on incredible LGBTQIAP+ works this year, partly to help you find great books but mostly just so we can bask in the joyous glory. Without further ado, check out what’s been deemed this year’s best of the best!

Middle Grade

The Pants Project by Cat Clarke: Kirkus’s Best Middle-Grade School and Friendship Stories of 2017

Felix Yz by Lisa Bunker: NPR’s Best Books of 2017

Young Adult

The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater: a New York Public Library Best Book of 2017, a B&N Best Book of 2017, School Library Journal‘s Best Nonfiction of 2017, a Kirkus Best Teen Nonfiction of 2017,

The Art of Starving by Sam J. Miller: NPR’s Best Books of 2017

At the Edge of the Universe by Shaun David Hutchinson: Best Teen Fiction of 2017 by Chicago Public Library

Dreadnought by April Daniels: a New York Public Library Best Book of 2017, a Kirkus Best Teen Fantasy of 2017

Sovereign by April Daniels, a Kirkus Best Teen Fantasy of 2017

Dress Codes for Small Towns by Courtney Stevens: a Kirkus Best Contemporary Teen Reads of 2017

Far From the Tree by Robin Benway: National Book Award winner, New York Times bestseller, Publishers Weekly Best YA of 2017, one of Bustle‘s 17 Best YA Novels of 2017, a Kirkus Best Contemporary Teen Reads of 2017, Best Teen Fiction of 2017 by Chicago Public Library, a B&N Best Book of 2017B&N Teen Blog’s Best YA of 2017, NPR’s Best Books of 2017

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee: New York Times bestseller, Publishers Weekly Best YA of 2017, Booklist Editors’ Choice: Books for Youth 2017, a Kirkus Best Teen Books of 2017 with a Touch of Humor, Best Teen Fiction of 2017 by Chicago Public Library, one of Bustle‘s 17 Best YA Novels of 2017, a New York Public Library Best Book of 2017, a B&N Best Book of 2017NPR’s Best Books of 2017, New York Magazine‘s 10 best YAs of 2017

Girl Mans Up by M-E Girard: Lambda Literary Award for YA Fiction

History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera: one of Time‘s best YAs of 2017

Ida by Alison Evans: shortlisted for the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards 2018

I Hate Everyone But You by Gaby Dunn and Allison Raskin: Best Teen Fiction of 2017 by Chicago Public Library

If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo: Stonewall Award (YA)

In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan: B&N Teen Blog’s Best YA of 2017

It’s Not Like it’s a Secret by Misa Sugiura: a Kirkus Best Teen Romances of 2017

Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore: Best Teen Fiction of 2017 by Chicago Public LibrarySchool Library Journal Best YA of 2017, B&N Teen Blog’s Best YA of 2017

Like Water by Rebecca Podos: B&N Teen Blog’s Best YA of 2017

A Line in the Dark by Malinda Lo: Best Teen Fiction of 2017 by Chicago Public Library, a Kirkus Best Teen Mysteries and Thrillers of 2017, New York Magazine‘s 10 best YAs of 2017

Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert: a Kirkus Best Teen Romance of 2017, one of Bustle‘s 17 Best YA Novels of 2017, New York Magazine‘s 10 best YAs of 2017, Booklist Editors’ Choice: Books for Youth 2017

Noteworthy by Riley Redgate: a New York Public Library Best Book of 2017

Now I Rise by Kiersten White: B&N Teen Blog’s Best YA of 2017

Pride: Celebrating Diversity & Community by Robin Stevenson: Stonewall Honor (YA)

Queer, There, and Everywhere: 23 People Who Changed the World by Sarah Prager: a New York Public Library Best Book of 2017

Radio Silence by Alice Oseman: Best Teen Fiction of 2017 by Chicago Public Library

Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy: Best Teen Fiction of 2017 by Chicago Public Library, a Kirkus Best Teen Romance of 2017

Release by Patrick Ness: Best Teen Fiction of 2017 by Chicago Public Library, a Kirkus Best Teen Romance of 2017

Spinning by Tillie Walden: Publishers Weekly Best YA of 2017, a New York Public Library Best Book of 2017, Booklist Editors’ Choice: Books for Youth 2017, a B&N Best Book of 2017Top 10 Queer and Feminist Books of 2017 via Autostraddle,

Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Ormsbee: Best Teen Fiction of 2017 by Chicago Public Library

They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera: New York Times bestseller, School Library Journal Best YA of 2017, Booklist Editors’ Choice: Books for Youth 2017, one of Bustle‘s 17 Best YA Novels of 2017, a Kirkus Best Teen Sci-Fi of 2017

This is Where it Ends by Marieke NijkampNew York Times bestseller

Unbecoming by Jenny Downham: Stonewall Honor (YA)

We Are Okay by Nina LaCour: Publishers Weekly Best YA of 2017, B&N Teen Blog’s Best YA of 2017, Booklist Editors’ Choice: Books for Youth 2017, one of Bustle‘s 17 Best YA Novels of 2017, a New York Public Library Best Book of 2017, a B&N Best Book of 2017: Teens

When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore: Stonewall Honor (YA)

Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemoreSchool Library Journal Best YA of 2017, a Kirkus Best Teen Romance of 2017,  Booklist Editors’ Choice: Books for Youth 2017Best Teen Fiction of 2017 by Chicago Public Library

Manga/Graphic Novel

My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness by Nagata Kabi: a B&N Best Book of 2017NPR’s Best Books of 2017

Adult Fiction

Amberlough by Lara Elena Donnelly: B&N Sci-Fi’s Best SFF Books of 2017

The Angel of History by Rabih Alameddine: Lambda Literary Award for Gay Fiction

Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney: Elle‘s Best Books of 2017Slate‘s Best Books of 2017, one of Buzzfeed’s 24 Best Fiction Books of 2017

Cottonmouths by Kelly J. Ford: a Los Angeles Review‘s Best Book of the Year

Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado: National Book Award finalist, a Los Angeles Review‘s Best Book of the Year, winner of the Bard Fiction Prize, Kirkus Prize finalist, #1 Indie Next Pick for October 2017, Top 10 Queer and Feminist Books of 2017 via Autostraddle, one of New York Times’ Critics’ Top Books of 2017, one of Washington Post‘s 50 Notable Works of Fiction in 2017, Los Angeles Times’ Best Books (Fiction) of 2017, Publishers Weekly Best Fiction of 2017, Chicago Tribune‘s Best Books of 2017, Kirkus’s Best Fiction of 2017, Boston Globe‘s Best Books of 2017, Elle‘s Best Books of 2017, NPR‘s Best Books of 2017, Slate‘s Best Books of 2017, Library Journal‘s Best Books (Short Stories) of 2017, Bustle‘s Best Fiction Books of 2017, Entropy Magazine‘s Best of 2017: Fiction Books, Huffington Post‘s The Best Fiction Books of 2017, one of Buzzfeed’s 24 Best Fiction Books of 2017, Commonweal‘s Top Books of 2017

Here Comes the Sun by Nicole Dennis-Benn: Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Fiction

Into the Blue by Pene Hanson: Lambda Literary Award for Gay Romance

Marrow Island by Alexis M. Smith: Lambda Literary Award for Bisexual Fiction

Not One Day by Anne Garréta (trans. by Emma Ramadan): Entropy Magazine‘s Best of 2017: Fiction BooksAlbertine Prize 2018 nominee

Pages for You by Sylvia Brownrigg: Kirkus’s Best Fiction to Get Your Book Club Talking of 2017

Small Beauty by jia qing wilson-yang: Lambda Literary Award for Transgender Fiction

Soul to Keep by Rebekah Weatherspoon: Lambda Literary Award for LGBT Erotica

The Stars are Legion by Kameron Hurley: B&N Sci-Fi’s Best SFF Books of 2017, Kirkus’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of 2017

Wanted, a Gentleman by KJ Charles: a B&N Best Book of 2017

Poetry

Thief in the Interior by Philip B. Williams: Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry

play dead by francine j. harris: Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Poetry (tie)

The Complete Works of Pat Parker edited by Julie R. Enszer: Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Poetry (tie)

Reacquainted with LifeKOKUMO: Lambda Literary Award for Transgender Poetry

When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities by Chen Chen: Library Journal‘s Best Books of 2017 (Poetry)

Non-Fiction

How to Survive a Plague: The Inside Story of How Citizens and Science Tamed AIDS, David France: Lambda Literary Award for LGBT Nonfiction

Black Dove: Mama, Mi’jo, and Me by Ana Castillo: Lambda Literary Award for Bisexual Nonfiction

Life Beyond My Body: A Transgender Journey to Manhood in China by Lei Ming and Lura Frazey: Lambda Literary Award for Transgender Nonfiction

Mean by Myriam Gurba: Top 10 Queer and Feminist Books of 2017 via Autostraddle, Library Journal‘s Best Books of 2017 (Memoir)

To My Trans Sisters, ed. by Charlie Cregg: Top 10 Queer and Feminist Books of 2017 via Autostraddle

We Are Never Meeting in Real Life: Essays by Samantha Irby: Autostraddle’s Top 10 Queer and Feminist Books of 2017, one of New York Times’ Critics’ Top Books of 2017, Chicago Tribune’s Best Books of 2017, Elle‘s Best Books of 2017, NPR’s Best Books of 2017,

Guest Post: LGBTQ Superhero Recs by Tansy Rayner Roberts, author of Girl Reporter!

Please welcome Tansy Rayner Roberts to LGBTQReads today! She’s the author of Girl Reporter, a bisexual f/f superhero novella, out today, and she’s here to rec some more LGBTQ superhero stories!

*****

I’ve been thinking about LGBTQ superhero stories a lot lately, because a) I’ve been reading lots and they’re great, b) I’ve been writing one! But also c) the kids in my life have always loved superheroes and so I’ve spent a lot of their childhoods looking at how those stories are shaped, and what they offer in the way of crunchy, learning-to-human content.

I know for my daughters, some of their first introduction to queer fictional characters came through comics and other superhero narratives –and there’s a lot more of this around than when I was a teenager. I think the only LGBTQ characters I came across in comics before I was 20 was one unrequited kiss between Fire and Ice Maiden in Justice League America, and a brief passing mention from Tasmanian Devil that he was gay, dropped into the background of a comic about something else. I didn’t even learn about Blue Beetle/Booster Gold slash fiction until I was in my thirties. Talk about deprived!

Ahem. There’s some cool stuff out there now. Here are some of my favourite LGBTQ superhero stories across various media.

Young Avengers — still one of my favourite comic series, often held up as a shining example of queer representation. Volume I (2005-2012 told across several mini-series, check out this post for reading order) introduced the epic love story of Billy Kaplan and Teddy Altman, whose romance has survived superhero boot camp, space invasion, depression, and family drama (where one side of the in-laws are magical and/or supervillains and the others are intergalactic royalty from two warring alien races, holiday dinners are always awkward). The fact that they’re two boys in a romantic relationship has actually been the source of least conflict in their lives, which is refreshingly normal.

Volume 2 of Young Avengers (2013-2014) now available as three trades or a fabulous hardcover omnibus, added bisexual genius Patriot, and heroic dimension-stomper lesbian America Chavez (who also had two moms).

Which brings us to America, written by Gabby Rivera, a comic that launched in early 2017 and brought us Marvel’s first queer Latin-American character with her own series. The trade of the first story arc has just dropped and is absolutely worth grabbing!

Another Marvel comic often singled out for queer representation is Runaways (one of my daughter’s all-time favourites). The original run written and drawn by Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona (2003-2004) introduced a bunch of teens who go on the run after discovering their parents are supervillains. Karolina Dean’s identity as a lesbian was brought out quite gradually through the original comic (though her awesome rainbow light “costume” was a heavy hint, and her sexuality was later made more overt. She ended up in a serious romance with Xavin, a shapeshifting and gender-shifting alien.

There’s a new Runaways comic just started this year, written by Rainbow Rowell. I’m loving this trend of giving popular superhero comics franchises to established YA authors. There’s also a TV show coming out soon (finally) which will hopefully stick to the diversity of the comics – the fact that they cast a slender actress to play Gert means I’m not getting my hopes up, but we’ll see.

In TV superhero-land, our family has recently discovered Steven Universe, which has some wonderful queer representation including an unusual family structure. Steven, the son/reincarnation of a fallen alien superhero, lives with her three female teammates/best friends the Crystal Gems who are training and raising him along with his Dad. Steven’s entire foundation story is built on the narrative of women loving women, romantically as well as platonically. Steven himself identifies strongly with female heroes, often imagines himself as a woman, and sometimes forms a female ‘fusion’ with his best friend/love interest Connie.

We’ve also been watching Season 2 of Supergirl, which has had its ups and downs but did present us with a coming out storyline around Kara’s sister Alex, including a reasonably healthy (eventually) romantic relationship with Maggie Sawyer — a character often linked romantically in comics with Batwoman, one of the rare lesbian characters of the DC superhero universe.

My favourite Batwoman portrayal is in the DC Bombshells series by Marguerite Bennett, a World War II Alternate Universe which features only female superheroes. Here, Kate Kane is a baseball player in the women’s league as well as a vigilante crimefighter.

The series is wonderful precisely because it is an AU — so openly queer characters allowed to be happy despite the historical background, as well as having superhero adventures without male characters getting in the way. Harley Quinn/Poison Ivy appear along with dozens of other beloved DC women — including Wonder Woman, depicted for the first time in a relationship with a woman in an official DC title (she has since been officially acknowledged as bisexual in the main comics continuity — here’s hoping the movies follow suit!).

But what about fiction? Superhero YA fiction is really just starting to gain traction in the market with some fantastic releases over the last few years, including Gwenda Bond’s Lois Lane YA series, Shannon Hale’s Squirrel Girl, and C.B. Lee’s Sidekick series.

I really liked the supporting character of Bells (a shapeshifting trans teenager) in Not Your Sidekick (2016), and was delighted to see that the second book in the series, Not Your Villain (2017), featured him as protagonist since he was clearly getting up to all kinds of mischief when his best friend Jess wasn’t paying attention.

That one’s high up on my to-read list, as is Sovereign (2017), the second volume of the Nemesis series by April Daniels, which has a trans girl superhero as protagonist. In the first volume, Dreadnought (2016), I was deeply affected by Danny’s painful and at-times emotionally wringing story.

My favourite recent YA superhero story is still Superior by Jessica Lack, which was published by the Book Smugglers in 2016, as part of their Year of the Superhero. This fun story is a romance between a Jamie, a superhero intern and his counterpart Tad, intern to a supervillain. The classic set up of hero/villain romance works great with this story which is just so beautifully and cleverly written.

Though really, it’s worth checking out The Book Smugglers’ entire Year of the Superhero collection of stories, with a special shout-out for Hurricane Heels, a collection of “magical girl” superhero adventures, with f/f romance as well as friendship.

Superhero stories are a great way to tell stories about difference and diversity; so many of the classic tropes in the genre are about being outsiders, transition, metamorphosis, keeping secrets, the importance of teamwork and support systems, finding a new family, and perception vs reality. For a long time, superhero stories in the comics at least were so busy trying to distance themselves from being a ‘kiddie’ platform that they missed out on some great opportunities to bring in new readers and tell stories about young, new characters facing a superhero reality. Thankfully that’s in the past and some of the most interesting and successful superhero comics of the last decade or more have been about teenagers. I hope to see some new LGBTQ characters appearing in the superhero comics universes (and just as importantly, giving ongoing series and support to the characters who already exist, as happened this year with America and Iceman). But really, when it comes to superhero stories with influence, it’s the Marvel (and now DC) movieverse that needs to step up.

Where’s our Young Avengers movie? Why is Harley Quinn being stuck in a movie franchise with the Joker instead of Poison Ivy? Can Wonder Woman get a girlfriend in the sequel?

What are your favourite LGBTQ teen superheroes, and who would you like to get their own solo comics title or movie?

Tansy Rayner Roberts is a fantasy and science fiction author who lives in southern Tasmania, somewhere between the tall mountain with snow on it, and the beach that points towards Antarctica. You can hear Tansy ranting and raving about all things science fiction feminist on the Galactic Suburbia podcast, and all things Doctor Who on the Verity! podcast. She also reads her own stories on the Sheep Might Fly podcast.

Her new novella, Girl Reporter, published by Book Smugglers Publishing, is available now.

Guest Recs from Erin Ptah: Webcomics with Major Nonbinary Characters!

We are super lucky to have Erin Ptah on the site today, doing the first in a series of webcomic recs! You may recognize her name from this cover/excerpt reveal, and if webcomics are your thing, you’re not gonna wanna miss her posts or her work! Take it away, Erin!

Hey there, LGBTQReads, I heard you might be webcomic-curious. Let me hook you up with some recs.

The plan is to do a whole series of these, and I’m totally open to suggestions. So if there’s something you want to see more of in webcomics — whether it’s an identity thing like “f/f romance” or a trope thing like “queer stuff with robots” — just say so in a comment and I’ll give it a whirl.

Today’s theme: Webcomics with major nonbinary characters!


sample-hazardsoflove

(1) The Hazards of Love by Stan Stanley

The story of a queer teenager who made a few bad decisions and has found themselves in a world very far from Queens.

Fantasy drama, ongoing. The main character’s birth name is Amparo, and I bring this up because it’s not a deadname that was deliberately changed, they just inadvertently lost it in a bargan with a supernatural creature. Along with the rest of their identity. (Oops.)

So now they’re stuck in a fantastical alternate dimension, Bright World, which has these lovely designs and aesthetics drawn from the artist’s Mexican heritage. Nothing in Bright World gets given for free, and our hero doesn’t have much left to bargain with. As of the most recent comic, they’ve picked up a new name (Fawn), but lost some memories and a couple of appendages (hands).

Word of God is that Fawn would specifically ID as “agender butch” if they knew the terms, although it’s not something that comes up in-universe, because, you know, they have other stuff to worry about.


sample-chaoslife

(2) Chaos Life by A. Stiffler

Focuses on a queer relationship between A. Stiffler and K. Copeland, who create the comic! It also delves into politics, GSM issues, mental health, pop culture, cats and other randomness.

Autobio comedy, ongoing. Not nearly as much to say about this one because it’s mostly cute one-shot gags. The artist, A., is agender, and got married to K. over the course of the strip. They own an assortment of ridiculous cats. (Pet death does get addressed, when it comes up.)

This is the one comic in the list that’s grounded in actual reality, so it’ll have reactions to current events like the US’ legalization of same-sex marriage, and strip topics like Being Agender 101. Some of you may find this a useful resource…others may find it a minor annoyance to click past so you can get to the next joke. Either way, it also has a lot of good jokes.


sample-floraverse

(3) Floraverse by glip

Floraverse is a webcomic and open world project focused on making stories and music. Viewer participation and discussion is highly encouraged.

Surreal fantasy, ongoing. And when I say “surreal” I mean…look, it starts out linear enough, with a little story about a cute bird-pixie and an even cuter jelly-critter trying to make a delivery. Then it skips around to some other stories in the same universe without resolving the first one, and eventually it becomes clear they’re not in chronological order, but now there’s something to do with time loops and characters getting reversioned and maybe the whole thing is just a play Jupet is watching? Or is Jupet writing the play/story/universe?

I have no idea. What I do know is, it’s beautiful. The character/creature designs are lush and varied, the art goes through a couple different complex styles, the color palettes alone are worth reading for.

There’s no explicit discussion about how gender is treated in-universe, just multiple characters who go by they/them, without any fuss or slip-ups by the people around them. The major ones are Beleth, a cat-demon who shows up in two different incarnations (versions? re-embodiments? something like that), and Jupet, a childlike but deceptively-powerful critter who appears to be 90% fluff.


sample-jobsatisfaction

(4) Job Satisfaction by Jey

What is everyday life like for a professional summoner, their zealous assistant, and the demons who crash on their couch and help out with taxes?

Fantasy comedy, ongoing. Started out very slice-of-life, though it’s developed more drama and intrigue as it goes on. The nonbinary main characters are demon summoner Sinh Thùy — I’m not sure if they’re a demon themselves, or just a human who’s blue for some reason — and fussy assistent Lemme Laviolette, who seems to have a crush on their boss that may or may not be going anywhere.

Sidenote: Dr. Thùy uses forearm crutches, and there are scenes where you can see bars and other mobility aid architecture in the setting. I don’t remember if it’s been stated whether they’re for a chronic disease or a demon-inflicted injury or what, but either way it’s a detail that most artists wouldn’t bother to include, so it’s cool to see.

Most of it takes place in the normal world, where the general public knows that demons exist, they just mostly would rather not meet any. The trans characters get some misgendering from fellow humans, although ironically not so much from demons, which don’t seem to fit into human gender schemas anyway. Sure, they might eat you, but they can’t be bothered to figure out which pronouns would upset you.


sample-dropout

(5) Drop Out by gray

A comic about two girlfriends who go on a roadtrip.

Bittersweet drama, complete. You have to be in the right frame of mind to read it — girlfriends Lola and Sugar are actively suicidal for most of the story, which follows them on a trip to the Grand Canyon to jump over the edge. But if you’re in the right place, it’s cathartic and amazing, with some of the best writing about ongoing depression I’ve ever seen.

It’s also an anthro comic, with a pixel-y style and handwritten text that can be hard to read, but don’t pre-judge it on any of those things. You’ll miss out.

Both characters are different varieties of intersex, which comes up in their conversations, how the conditions have affected their backstories and interacted with their emotional issues. Lola seems to be comfortably nonbinary, in contrast with Sugar, who’s nominally a woman but talks about struggling with it, in a way you almost never see — characters either have their gender already settled when the story starts, or go through a linear discovery process along the way.

The whole thing is natural, and earnest, and comes in between silly random conversations about the finer points of ninja throwing knives. The author is also a depressed intersex nonbinary person, which shows through in how everything feels deep and well-integrated, not caricatured or pasted-on.

Seriously, it’s great and you should go read it.


ptah_profile_by_erinptah-dbwe6fuErin Ptah likes cats, magical girls, time travel, crossdressing, and webcomics. She’s the artist behind But I’m A Cat Person (featuring bigender social worker Timothy/Camellia) and Leif & Thorn (featuring agender magic knight Juniper). Say hi on Twitter at @ErinPtah.

Queering up your shelf, one rec at a time!