Category Archives: Guest post

Books I’d Recommend to My LGBT Main Character: a Guest Post by Lauren James

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In my novel The Last Beginning, the main character Clove is going through a lot. She gets rejected after kissing her best friend Meg in the same week that she finds out she’s adopted. She relies on a sassy artificial intelligence called Spart for emotional support – and a girl from the future called Ella keeps interfering with her life and telling Clove that she’s her girlfriend. She’s having a pretty hard time of it, so I thought I’d recommend some books to help her chill out a little bit.

 

Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour

More than anything, Clove just needs to relax. This sweet and cute lesbian rom-com, set in sunny Hollywood, will help her forget all her worries. For a little while, at least!

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

Clove’s future girlfriend Ella is a Classics major, and as Clove is more into computer science, she doesn’t know much about Greek myths. This retelling of Achilles and Patroclus’ love story will give her a starter in all things Classical, to help her keep up with Ella.

Timekeeper by Tara Sim

Clove’s adoptive parents, Tom and Jen, are both scientists working on building the world’s first time machine. Clove has been listening to their discussions about time travel since she was a little girl, so she would feel right at home reading this gay love story set in a world where time can stop and start at will.

 

The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley

In this book, Thaniel falls in love with Keita, a Japanese watchmaker with clairvoyant powers. Just like Ella, Keita has knowledge of his future relationship with Thaniel. I think this book would help Clove deal with the crazy frustrations of dating someone who thinks they know more about you than you do.

Knit One, Girl Two by Shira Glassman

Clove knits while she’s waiting for code to compile, and to calm her nerves. She also woos Ella by giving her a green scarf she makes – so this lesbian love story about girls meeting over yarn would be perfect for them both!

Radio Silence by Alice Oseman

In Radio Silence, British teenagers Frances and Aled are facing a breakdown of everything they thought they knew about themselves and what they wanted from life. Clove goes through something similar in The Last Beginning, so she would definitely relate.

 

Gena/Finn by Hannah Moskowitz and Kat Helgeson

Ella is from the future, so she and Clove face the prospect of a long-distance relationship across several centuries. She would probably like this novel about the internet relationship between two girls, told through their messages and emails, just like the conversations between Clove and Ella.

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

When Clove travels back in time to 1745, she feels the need to hide her sexuality, because she knows people will react badly if they found out she liked girls. In her time of 2054, sexuality isn’t an issue, and she proudly wears a rainbow wristband given to her by her dad Tom. She would probably find it comforting to read this historical novel about boys on a grand tour of Europe, which shows that there is a place for LGBT characters throughout history.

Giant Days by John Allison

When Clove kisses her best friend Meg and gets rejected, she feels like her life is over. She doesn’t think their friendship will ever survive Clove’s advances. She would love this graphic novel series about a group of freshman girls at a British university, whose tight knit friendship group constantly faces the strain of fighting over romance, school and sexuality – and survives.

Clove would love all of these books, although she’s probably too busy to read them during The Last Beginning. I would apologise, but giving my characters tough things to deal with is one of the best parts of being a writer.

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unnamed-3Lauren James is the author of Young Adult science fiction, including The Next Together series and The Loneliest Girl in the Universe. The Last Beginning was published by Sky Pony Press in March. You can find her on Twitter at @Lauren_E_James, Tumblr at @laurenjames or her website http://www.laurenejames.co.uk, where you can subscribe to her newsletter to be kept up to date with her new releases and receive bonus content.

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Guest Recs: Five Queer Rocker Romances from Syncopation Author Anna Zabo

You may recall Anna Zabo as being last month’s featured author. Well, today, they’re back on the site to celebrate their newest release, a rock star romance called Syncopation, by recommending some more queer rock star romances!

First, here’s the dirt on Syncopation:

Twisted Wishes front man Ray Van Zeller is in one hell of a tight spot. After a heated confrontation with his bandmate goes viral, Ray is hit with a PR nightmare the fledgling band sodoesn’t need. But his problems only multiply when they snag a talented new drummer—insufferably sexy Zavier Demos, the high school crush Ray barely survived.

Zavier’s kept a casual eye on Twisted Wishes for years, and lately, he likes what he sees. What he doesn’t like is how out of control Ray seems—something Zavier’s aching to correct after their first pulse-pounding encounter. If Ray’s up for the challenge.

Despite the prospect of a glorious sexual encore, Ray is reluctant to trust Zavier with his band—or his heart. And Zavier has always had big dreams; this gig was supposed to be temporary. But touring together has opened their eyes to new passions and new possibilities, making them rethink their commitments, both to the band and to each other.

Rare rep note: Zavier is aromantic pansexual.

And here are Anna’s recs!

To be honest, when writing Syncopation, I didn’t read too many rockstar romances beforehand, but I have read a few over the years, which probably informed some of my writing.

These are in no particular order, and I cheated with one of them.

Running with Scissors by LA Witt (m/m)

One of the things I loved about this book was the nitty gritty of touring, and also how band members can break apart and come together. It’s a redemption book of sorts, too.

Body Rocks by A. M. Arthur (m/m)

A hookup that leads to two members of rival bands falling for each other… heavy on the angst, but that’s rock stars for you!

Rock N’ Soul by Lauren Sattersby (m/m)

Road trips, a sarcastic ghost of a rock star, and love? What more could you ask for? This was a fun book.

Out Of Rhythm by Shona Husk (f/f)

Lovely novella about an Australian rock band back home from their first tour and struggling to develop their next album. Gemma Field is caught between the band, her parents thinking she should get a “real” job, and trying to mend her long-time friendship with Kirsten Vincent, who Gemma’s hopelessly in love with.

Perfect Imperfections by Cardeno C. (m/m)

Gentle romance between a very sheltered rock star and a bartender/adventure seeker who ends up playing the part of a fake boyfriend. Road Trip mixed with Out For You mixed with Fake Relationship!

Anna Zabo writes contemporary and paranormal romance for all colors of the rainbow. They live and work in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which isn’t nearly as boring as most people think.

Anna grew up in the wilds of suburban Philadelphia before returning to their ancestral homelands in Western Pennsylvania. As a child they were heartily disappointed to discover that they couldn’t grow up to be what they wanted (a boy, a cat, a dragon), so they settled on being themself whenever possible, which may be a combination of a boy, a cat, and a dragon. Or perhaps a girl, a knight, and a writer. Depends on whom you ask. They do have a penchant for colorful ties and may be hording a small collection of cufflinks. They can be easily plied with coffee.

Anna has an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University, where they fell in with a roving band of romance writers and never looked back. They also have a BA in Creative Writing from Carnegie Mellon University.

Guest Recs from Erin Ptah: Webcomics with Binary Trans Characters

Welcome back to Erin Ptah, who’s here with her sixth installment of webcomic recs!

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I started these recs with a set of webcomics featuring nonbinary characters, so it’s high time we got around to binary trans characters, don’t you think? Especially with Transgender Day of Visibility on March 31.

As usual, I’m focusing these recs on characters whose transness has been indicated (even if only briefly) in the comic itself. Except for the first one, because it was too adorable to hold off.


(1) SpectraSpell by Lisa Harald

13 year old Vera has recently moved to the small town of Vättered, Sweden — a seemingly unremarkable place at first, but strange things are happening and everything might not be what it seems. SpectraSpell is a story about kids and magic, and what it really means to be different.

Modern fantasy, ongoing. Vera is an autistic tween girl who’s trying to figure out how much of what she does is “normal”…and “what she does” now includes seeing creepy-cool magical effects take over the scenery. The regular art is drawn in a nice clean manga style, all black-and-white lines and tones, which makes it especially striking when things switch into subtle greyscale watercolors.

Vera and her family have met a handful of locals, but so far the only other person who’s seen the magic is Linnéa — a chatty, friendly trans girl who clicked with Vera immediately. I love the way their personalities fit together, how Linnéa can be alternately pushy and gentle in a way that works really well for Vera.

The overall plot is shaping up to be, not a traditional magical-girl story, but one that hits a lot of the same tropes and will appeal to the same fans. Not to mention fans of anything that’s utterly charming.


(2) Chroma Key by Brandon Dumas & Laura Reyes

When Kim and her friends were young, they used to watch a show called SUPER FIGHTING MIGHTY FIGHTERS. It was kitschy and brightly colored and involved a lot of dubious costume work. After ten long years of growing up and moving on, they should be too old for such things. However, when a mysterious alien creature enters their lives, offering the opportunity to live out their childhood dreams and save the world in the process, the lure of the past may prove difficult to resist.

Sci-fi, ongoing. Cute multiracial group of kids grows up into a pack of young adults with highly #relatable levels of displacement and ennui. When a pseudo-Mighty Fighters transformation watch shows up in Kim’s room, she’s immediately on board. The rest of the group is…a lot more dubious.

Presumably they’ll rethink their suspicions when they meet their first monster.

Also, Fuchsia has figured out she’s a trans woman, Parker now describes their gender as the opening riff of “Welcome To The Jungle,” and deaf/signing Emily has gone full roller-derby lesbian. Good times.

Don’t pick this up expecting to jump right into the action scenes — it’s been updating regularly for most of a year, and our heroes still haven’t seen any aliens, much less gotten into any fights. No matter how those turn out, though, I’m really enjoying it for the characters, and how well the writing is capturing this particular headspace of [queer geeky] young-adulthood.


(3) Sanity Circus by Windy

Attley is a young girl in the strange city of Sanity. Things become stranger when her best friend turns out to be not what she seems, and soon discovers that may apply to the entire city itself.

Fantasy, ongoing. It’s a city full of magic. People who can shapeshift into animals, although it wears down their ability to become entirely people-shaped afterward. Talking instruments who can shapeshift into people. And Scarecrows, a kind of fear-based soul-eater that haven’t been seen for hundreds of years. Until now, of course.

So they’re after Attley, for mysterious reasons. (Although in Posey’s case I’d bet there are un-Scarecrow-y Feelings involved.) She ends up scrambling all around the city, trying to stay ahead of her pursuers and picking up a ragtag crew of misfits who think figuring out the secrets of her past will help unravel their own. One’s a flute. Another has invisible limbs. Fletch is the trans one. He can turn into a seagull.

The comic has reached a point where some of the mysteries are being solved and hidden backstories revealed. Which is pretty exciting, even if it does keep raising new questions. Also, the art is lovely, with a warm soft coloring style and lots of neat visuals, in the little details as much as the big splashy action scenes.


(4) Sad to Gay by Phallically Impaired

A humorous webcomic about the every day struggles of being a gay trans guy.

Semi-autobiographical slice-of-life, ongoing.

Some of the strips are general one-off gags about trans feelings. Those are highly rebloggable, so if you’re on LGBTQ Tumblr at all you’ll probably recognize the art style — lineless and textured and atmospherically colored, way fancier than your average highly-rebloggable gag comic.

The one-offs are interspersed between an ongoing story about our hero, Vincent, figuring things out in therapy and coming out to friends and family. Also, chatting with his imaginary horse-to-unicorn sidekick. (The unicorn’s name is Packer. You might be able to guess that from the NSFW running gag.)


(5) Venus Envy by Erin Lindsey

Venus Envy is a typical high school romantic comedy, with the welcome addition of lesbians, crossdressers, and of course transsexuals. The story follows Zoë, a teenage male-to-female transsexual, as she comes of age, tries to keep her secret, and tackles life’s challenges. Meanwhile, she makes friends with several of Salem’s most colorful residents, including an estranged lesbian, a deep-stealth female-to-male with way too many connections, and the drool-worthy bad boy who wants to reform.

High school drama, perma-hiatus. This one is a classic — it was one of the first, if not the first, webcomics about a trans character. (Also, one of the first few that introduced me to “webcomics” as a concept. So on some level, all these rec posts can be traced back to Venus Envy.) Beginning in 2001, it ran for almost 1000 strips until the regular updates petered out around 2009.

It starts off with its own set of one-off gags about trans feelings, then quickly develops into Zoë’s ongoing story, with arcs ranging from slapstick to melodrama. At the most angsty extremes, it deals with sexual assault and attempted murder. At the fluffiest, it’s “uh-oh, these two mismatched trans kids have to take care of a baby together! Hijinks ensue.” The shadows of dysphoria, transition, and outing are never far away, but there are plenty of sweet and fun scenes in spite of them.

The early art is very rough; it goes through a couple stages of evolution as the years go on. Stick with it anyway. Mostly because the writing is solid, but also because it’s a cool look into the early years of the medium, and the recent history of trans activism.


Erin Ptah likes cats, magical girls, time travel, crossdressing, and webcomics. She’s the artist behind But I’m A Cat Person (where a previously-questioning character who talked about dysphoria in 2012 has finally figured it out) and Leif & Thorn (which has an MtF vampire hunter and an FtM vampire, thankfully never in the same room). Say hi on Twitter at @ErinPtah.

Spec Shelf: Nicole Brinkley Takes You Inside Heart of Iron by Ashley Poston!

Excited to introduce a brand new monthly feature on LGBTQReads today called Spec Shelf, where Nicole Brinkley of the former Queership blog chats with authors about their queer SFF titles! Take it away, Nicole!

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Welcome to Spec Shelf, the little corner of LGBTQ Reads where I talk to authors about their queer science-fiction and fantasy books. Today, we’re peeking into Ashley Poston’s Heart of Iron, one of my favorite books to release so far this year.

Described as “Anastasia in space,” Heart of Iron follows a ragtag group aboard the spaceship the Dossier: Ana, found floating in space as a child; Di, the glitching android found with her; Jax, the pilot from an unknown planet; and Robb, a royal who needs their help.

Together, they’re crossing the galaxy to try to find a spaceship that might not exist—Robb to find his long-lost father and Ana to save Di from his glitches. Ashley’s writing reads like a movie script, as fast-paced and clear as your favorite sci-fi flick. And much like your favorite sci-fi flick, there is undoubtedly a character you will fall in love with. Favorites as a whole seem to be Jax and Di, but the character that earned my heart? The indomitable Captain Siege, pirate leader of the Dossier.

Learn a little bit about Captain Siege and her wife Talle in the excerpt below—and keep reading for an interview between Ashley and me, where we chat about Heart of Iron, asexual representation, queer pirate girls and Hogwarts houses.

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At the head of the table, beside the captain, Talle—short and thin, with black hair in a pixie cut and hands so steady she could slit a throat clean while navigating the skyways of Nevaeh—sliced a piece of bread in half with one of the dozen knives from her belt, and buttered it. Siege leaned forward and ate it out of her hand. “Sunshine! That was mine.”

“Ours,” Siege replied, kissing her, and played her hand— three twos. No one called Wicked against the captain. No one ever did. Except Talle.

Talle and Siege had been married longer than Ana had been part of the Dossier. She always wondered how they’d met, but it was a secret—like Siege’s last name.

Di once said that it seemed surprising that two people who were so opposite could fall in love, but he didn’t see that while Siege was the flame, Talle was the shadow. One could not exist without the other.

Ana wished she could explain it. She wondered, often, if he would feel the same about her if he was programmed to have emotions.

###

Now here’s the interview!

Nicole: Let’s skip the whole shebang about “what is your book about” and “tell me about your characters” and dive straight into the fun stuff.

Ashley: Ugh, do I have to?

Nicole: You knew what you signed up for.

Ashley: Fine, fine, LET’S SKIP ALL THE GOOD PARTS AND GO STRAIGHT TO THE SPOILERS. SO, THE FIRST PERSON TO DIE IS—

Nicole: If you touch my favorite can-opener robot E0S, I’ll never forgive you.

Ashley: I can live with that.

Nicole: There are many incredible characters in Heart of Iron—though our resident tiny robot is likely my favorite—and many incredible character dynamics. Watching relationships shift and grow as the book goes on was one of my favorite bits, especially between Jax and Robb. I know Jax wasn’t even supposed to be a POV character, originally. What was creating their dynamic like?

Ashley: I love character interactions. I think I love writing it because of fanfiction, to be honest. Character studies and all. And I knew going into Heart of Iron, a good chunk of the story would be unremarkable (it’s a “lost royal” trope—we all know how those go), so I wanted to make the characters the story, not the trope itself. And to do that I wanted to make engaging characters. Robb was one of those characters who was an antagonist in one draft, and then a martyr in the next, but he never quite fit very well in any of those roles. He didn’t really come into himself until he met this snarky starship pilot, and then I kind of realized—oh, he’s not any of those things. He’d been screaming at me for so long that I kind of tuned him out, and then when I finally let him go he became this multifaceted character who had lost his father, and who was unsure of his future, and who wanted to do good, but he always seemed to do it wrong.

Nicole: I feel like a lot of modern media—even with all of the steps we’ve made in positive queer representation—still tend to box queer characters into this corner if being That One Thing and not a multifaceted character, especially when written by straight authors. It’s one of the things I love about reading queer SFF—and, of course, fanfiction, which fixes many of the limitations of traditional media.

Ashley: That is really true—and even as a queer woman myself I started to box my characters into one archetype or another. I think, to be honest, it’s a lazy way to earn cookie points. You can have queer rep! But they’re only ONE thing! And it’s fine. I mean, it’s fine. But there came a point in writing Heart of Iron where it wasn’t fine anymore for me. I’ve been writing this book for six years, and during those six years I grew as a person and came into myself, and you can see that through the drafts. Also, I have to add that while I’m a queer woman, I don’t assume to know the trials and tribulations of gay male characters. I had sensitivity readers on Robb and Jax, and their story isn’t about their gayness. That isn’t my story to write. They’re characters who are gay in Heart of Iron—and definitely not the only ones—but their story isn’t about their gayness.

Nicole: And the world of Heart of Iron isn’t one that fixates on their gayness, either. It’s populated by queer characters. Which brings me to my non-robotic favorite character. You know her. You love her. Captain Siege.

Ashley: THE CAPTAIN’S IN THE HOUSSSEEE. I love Captain Siege. And her wife.

Nicole: And her wife Talle! They both play hugely important roles in Heart of Iron, both as Ana’s family unit and as rational heads in a time where all of our POV characters are under extreme emotional duress. How much can you talk about them without completely spoiling your (just-announced!) second book?

Ashley: Well, I can definitely say they’ve seen their fair share of OH MY GODDESS THE WORLD IS ENDING moments, so nothing really surprises them anymore. There will be a lot more about Siege and Talle’s past, how they met, and how that factors into some of the bigger revelations in Heart of Iron.

Nicole: I love nothing more than queer pirate girls.

Ashley: Me, too. I love stories with kickass queer female role models for the main characters. I think that’s important—especially in YA where parents are either dead, MIA, or just not written on the page.

Nicole: That age-old trope—in both anime and YA—really open up the opportunity for teens to explore. It’s much easier without formal adult supervision around. Though Siege does try to reign Ana’s overzealous nature in where she can.

Ashley: Note: she tries. Ana’s like a bottle rocket—she’s going to fly off somewhere, it’s just a matter of where, and there’s no stopping her. I did an event the other day where I had to sort Ana into a Hogwarts House, and I instantly said Gryffindor, but then a friend shouted Slytherin and I was like… OH. She kind of embodies both? She turns, really, from one to the other.

Nicole: Her loyalty to Di could be argued as either a Gryffindor or Slytherin trait—though I think she reveals her true colors as to which House she would belong to as Heart of Iron comes to a close.

Ashley: Yeah, she goes full Hufflepuff—JUST KIDDING. Di’s the only Hufflepuff. Bless him.

Nicole: You mentioned at your launch party that Di is the character you found easiest to write, and I know you put a bit of yourself in Ana as well, though it’s not officially canon in Heart of Iron, in terms of your own queer identity.

Ashley: Well, if we’re talking about things not “officially being canon” then neither Siege nor Talle nor Robb nor Jax are “canon” because they don’t officially state, “HEY, I’M GAY!”

Nicole: Though I would love to see a rainbow flag flown outside the spaceship.

Ashley: HA! Jax would be in charge of the glitter because he’d just like to ruin everyone else’s day. But yeah, the terms for gay/straight/ace don’t exist in the world of Heart of Iron, because there was never a need to put a word to it. I wanted to imagine a world where that was never an issue, where religious reasons didn’t dictate whether you could marry or love someone of the same sex. I guess that’s wish fulfillment on my end, but I think that’s why I love fiction. You can always write the what-ifs, and impossible things are no longer really that impossible.

Nicole: I think that, when using labels in speculative fiction, it can become complicated. You don’t want sexualities to be erased, which is one of my biggest fears when it comes to aces in fantasy—it’s so easy to ignore a character coded as ace as a “shy straight person,” whatever that means—but that wish fulfillment can be incredibly satisfying and allow further headcanons to be developed, especially when you’re like me and think romantic identity is just a series of question marks because gender and sexuality have no impact on who I fall for.

Ashley: Exactly, and one thing I had to wrestle with in writing Heart of Iron. If you don’t say it, or explicitly talk about it, does it exist in speculative fiction? And then there is author intention vs. execution, and I think this is a good place to segue back to Ana’s identity. I, for the most part, fall somewhere on the asexual spectrum. And I wrote Ana to fall somewhere on there, too. (“But Ashley!” someone is bound to say—and this isn’t a spoiler—“There’s kissing!” to which I want to remind everyone that just because you identify as asexual doesn’t mean you are banned from kissing people.)

Nicole: I’m on the ace spectrum and I love kissing and cuddling.

Ashley: Same! I love kissing, and I love holding hands, and being close to someone, and Ana does that a lot. And for me, that was the only way I knew how to put a little of myself into Ana. How I could show her sexuality like I did for Robb and Jax, Siege and Talle. For me, at least, just to see a character love someone so deeply, without some of the more sexual attractions, was important. That was really, really important to me.

Nicole: All of these relationships—Ana and Di, Jax and Robb, Siege and Talle, me and resident can-opener robot E0S—shape the world of Heart of Iron. What fictional relationships shaped your own writing? Oh, yes. We’re talking ships.

Ashley: THERE ARE A LOT OF SHIPS. I am from the land of fandom and fanfics. I love characters with interesting dynamics—I think they make the strongest OTPs, to be honest. And most of my strongest OTPs are not sexually-charged in nature, but come from a place of snarky quips and electric conversation. (Oh hi baby queer Ash, here’s your clue.) Artemis Fowl and Holly Short, for instance, and Howl and Sophie from Howl’s Moving Castle. I also really love some non-canon OTPs, too. Yuugi and Yami Yuugi from Yu-Gi-Oh!; Hermione and her own ambition, because we know she wouldn’t settle; Rei and Makoto in Sailor Moon

Nicole: Oh, Artemis and Holly! One of our first bonding moments as friends was our mutual love of those two—and you and I have similar preferences with romantic non-sexually-charged ships. Let’s wrap this interview up before we write an entire essay: is there anything else you want folks to know about Heart of Iron?

Ashley: Ha! Hmmm, well, let’s see. Heart of Iron is a story about a lost royal princess—yes, that’s true. There’s no disguising that, really (ha!). I never went into Heart of Iron hoping to rewrite the trope. Some people will like it, and some people won’t, and that’s with anything you read, you know? I guess what I’m saying is, I wrote Heart of Iron to explore the characters within the story—Ana and Di and Robb and Jax—and how they interact. I wanted to tell a story of characters coming together, of their complex relationships, of being the good you wish to see in the world, and of being frightened to be that good sometimes. I wanted to write a story about home—about the people that make it, and the people you have to leave behind to find it, and I hope you find your home, too, in the Iron Kingdom.

Heart of Iron is available now. Buy the book from Indiebound, Barnes & Noble, Amazon or Book Depository. To learn more about the book, visit Ashley’s website or follow her on Twitter or Instagram.

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Nicole Brinkley has short hair and loves dragons. The rest changes without notice. She is an independent bookseller and blogger found most often at YA Interrobang and the Barnes & Noble Teen Blog. Like what she does? Follow her on Twitter or Instagram and support her on Patreon.

Guest Recs From Erin Ptah: Sci-Fi Webcomics With Same-Sex Couples

Welcome back to Erin Ptah this #WebcomicWednesday, bringing us Sci-Fi webcomics with same-sex couples!

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More webcomic recs, because you can never have too many.

I was trying to come up with an all-m/m list, but had trouble grouping my favorites into sets of 5 that had any coherent sub-theme. So instead, here’s a mix of m/m and f/f, in a genre I could sit around reccing all day.

(As usual, if there’s a theme or topic you want to see in a future reclist, just ask! And feel free to leave your own recs in the comments.)

Today’s theme: Sci-fi webcomics with same-sex couples!


sample-buyingtime

(1) Buying Time by Casey J

When Vinnie Smalls, a lonesome welder working for the Hyperion City Core, finds he has a crush on a fellow co-worker, he must break away from his usual loner lifestyle and dive headfirst into the inner workings of the Daily Leisure Credit system.

Cyberpunk romance, complete. In a futuristic city where everything is monitored and social interactions are automatically billed, Vinnie would love to get a music career going, but finds himself working extra shifts because otherwise he literally can’t afford to talk to his crush. (Gavin would love to pick up the cost more often, but that just makes Vinnie feel even more awkward.)

Self-consciousness aside, the romance is pretty straightforward and uncomplicated, with most of the conflict coming from the worldbuilding around them. Great integrated use of Flash animation that highlights the sci-fi setting (blinking lights! glowing neon!) without being distracting.

NSFW sex scenes in the later chapters.


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(2) Sylvania by Kristin Kemper

Sylvania is a story about three sisters who are members of an ancient clan of tree witches. As they learn to use the magical powers they were born with, they’ll each embark on their own path from the deepest heart of the forest into unknown adventures far beyond its borders.

Sci-fi/fantasy, ongoing. The official summary totally buries the lede, which is that it’s about witches getting recruited to help terraform Mars.

Earth has several different witch clans, including tree-witches, bird-witches, and fish-witches. There’s an existing Mars colony, but it’s populated mostly by star-witches and non-magical scientists, none of whom have the skillsets necessary for full-on terraforming. The recruitment effort gets complicated by a romance between Juniper, one of the tree-witch sisters, and a star-witch born on Mars.

Lovely soft textured art style, with special attention paid to natural details and magical special effects. It’s (deliberately?) more suited to the forest and undersea settings of the early chapters than high-tech spaceships and cities, so I’m looking forward to what it does with the Mars terrain.


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(3) O Human Star by Blue Delliquanti

Alastair Sterling was the inventor who sparked the robot revolution. And because of his sudden death, he didn’t see any of it. That is, until he wakes up 16 years later in a robot body that matches his old one exactly.

Sci-fi romance/drama, ongoing. Explores the future through Al’s new eyes, while using flashbacks to reveal the early development of robotics and his relationship with his partner, Brendan. Al’s unexpected death left a lot of unresolved conflicts (notably, how Brendan wanted to come out and Al didn’t), which makes everything extra-fraught when the apparently-perfect robot duplicate seeks him out.

During the intervening years Brendan has made his own attempts to build a replacement-Al, which is why he already has a robot with a similar personality…who thinks like a teenager and identifies as a girl. She treats Brendan as a father and Al as a kind of legendary hero come to life, which only makes his situation weirder.

Slow and deliberate pace — it’s been running for 6 years and we still don’t know who brought Al back, or why — but it reads like it was planned that way, not like it’s been dragged-out. Nice use of limited palette to distinguish the different time periods and put emphasis where the artist wants it.


sample-tryinghuman

(4) Trying Human by Emy Bitner

New York City secretary Rose catches the interest of Hue, an empathetic Grey, and his funny friend, Quazky, a Reptoid alien from a neighboring mothership. Using a device, the trying human circuit, the two friends infiltrate Rose’s life and the human world.

Sci-fi drama, ongoing. Classic Men-in-Black-and-aliens mythos, complete with flashbacks to Area-51-type shenanigans in the ’40s. Rose has a human sometimes-boyfriend and keeps getting her memories wiped, but her bond with Hue keeps reasserting itself.

While Rose and Hue are developing their ambiguously-romantic friendship (insert your own “greyromantic” puns here), Longus, a Reptoid who’s been living in disguise on Earth, ends up moving much faster with a cute young human named Don. Which is lucky for Don, because if Longus hadn’t come to the rescue he would’ve been mugged, and if Longus’ interest had been slightly different he would’ve been eaten.


sample-relativity

(5) Relativity by Beck Kramer

In the near future, Irina Novak sets off on the first manned lightspeed flight, with unexpected consequences to herself and her marriage.

Sci-fi drama, on unscheduled indefinite hiatus. It’s short, so I can’t go into much detail without spoiling all the plot that’s happened so far. Suffice to say it has time dilation, authority figures with common sense, married lesbians with an increasingly complicated relationship, and beautiful detailed realistic drawings of spacecraft.

If you like serious sci-fi and don’t mind cliffhangers, give it a look.


Erin Ptah likes cats, magical girls, time travel, crossdressing, and webcomics. She’s the artist behind But I’m A Cat Person (with same-sex pairings and Sufficiently Advanced Technology) and Leif & Thorn (m/m-centric, mostly fantasy, but there’s a Space AU). Say hi on Twitter at @ErinPtah.

Channeling My Inner Kurt Cobain – Writing and Depression: A Guest Post By Ellyn Oaksmith

Please welcome Ellyn Oaksmith to LGBTQReads today to discuss her new book, Chasing Nirvana (which happens to center my favorite band of all time) and depression. (TW: suicide mentions.)

51ndlN7YseLA girl, a band, a dream.

Fran Worthy is just another girl trying to make it through senior year in Aberdeen, Washington. But it’s 1993 and Fran is gay. Her comfortably off the radar life turns vividly public when a student nominates Fran for prom queen. When confronted by angry parents, Fran refuses to back down, promising to deliver her hometown heroes in hopes of winning prom queen votes.

Fran heads out on a 24-hour road trip to Daly City California with four friends, including her crush, who may or may not be gay. Their plan? To sneak backstage and ask Kurt Cobain and Nirvana to come home and play prom.

 No problem, unless something goes wrong.

Chasing Nirvana is out now! Buy a copy at Amazon and check out the book trailer on YouTube

***

Deep into the writing of Chasing Nirvana, a book about a young gay girl who tries to get Nirvana to play at her prom, my more than slightly puzzled mom asked me a question. How I could write about a gay girl from the poverty stricken flats of Aberdeen, Washington? A girl who is bullied, despised and harassed for being gay. Unlike Fran Worthy, my main character, I come from a loving, tight knit family that is very progressive. My 80-year-old parents march in protests and have socialized for decades with openly gay friends. Perhaps the underlying questions was how could I, a woman given abundant love and support all my life, channel the inner emotional life of someone given so little?

At the time I brushed off the question. “I’m a writer, it’s what I do. I live other lives.” And yet, the more I thought about it, the more I wondered. What was driving me to write this story? What was the shared emotional core? In the first draft the story was told entirely from the main character’s point of view. The problem was that for much of the story, she’s concussed, which made the story too bleak. Fran’s concussion made her feel isolated, confused, tired and overwrought. That’s when it hit me. I had unwittingly written about my own struggles with depression. Sure, it’s deeply buried in a fast moving plot with a road trip quest to meet Nirvana but the more I thought about it, the more I uncovered my own links to my main character and her savior: Kurt Cobain.

On the surface the comparison is laughable: a suburban mother of two comparing herself to the rock god Kurt Cobain. (Insert eye rolls from my two teens.) But everyone consists of layers of all the different lives we’ve led. At one point I was a screenwriter in Hollywood. I’d visit studios, pitching stories to neurotic, narcissistic, over-privileged producers and their sycophantic assistants, struggling through the entire ordeal under the shadow of depression. Writing stories is what kept me sane. If I could create, I could live in an alternate world. A world with happily ever afters. Where people grow and learn from their adventures and mistakes. The imaginary world upon which I built my career didn’t include a sink hole of blackness that followed me like a monster, waiting to swallow me whole. What does a depressed person write? Comedies. Naturally.

Kurt Cobain was about 13 when he saw a body hanging from a tree outside the Aberdeen grade school. He and a classmate stared at the corpse for a half hour before school officials sent them packing. Several members of his family killed themselves and at 14, Cobain told a school friend that he would become a rich and famous rock star then kill himself in a blaze of glory like Jimi Hendrix. Neither kid realized that Hendrix’ death wasn’t suicide.

It’s hard to say when exactly Kurt became depressed. Aberdeen wasn’t an easy place for a sensitive young man fixated on art instead of sports or more manly pursuits. Kurt developed a taste for booze, finding a morbidly obese man to buy him and his friends malt liquor in exchange for pushing the man’s wheelchair to the store. In high school Kurt began writing songs that would become the basis for Nirvana’s first albums. Kurt channeled his anger, frustration, sadness and disillusionment into lyrics that were filled with longing, alienation and irony. My experience with depression and writing has been that writing, like depression, has a cyclical rhythm. When a great idea hits, life is a blast of high octane sunshine fueling manic energy and productivity.  When the story (or song) is written, consumed by the public and the world moves on, it feels like the end of a passionate relationship. I want to wallow in sadness. Wear pajamas all day, eat ice cream, drink bourbon and eat potato chips for dinner. Kurt had far worse predilections.

Heroin isn’t a subject in my book. The Kurt I wanted to capture was funny, charming, quirky and quite possibly, in 1993, burnt out by fame. But not so badly that he couldn’t spend a few moments with a fan and recognize a fellow artist. Someone who, like him, was just trying to make it day by day by channeling the pain of living into something beautiful: creation. A song that’s never been sung. A book that’s never been written and in my main characters case: a photograph that captures a seminal moment in rock history.

Chasing NirvanaEllyn Oaksmith is the USA Today bestselling author of four books including the Kindle bestseller Chasing Nirvana. She lives in Seattle with her family. ​ Luckily, she’s waterproof.

Website * Goodreads * Twitter * Facebook 

Playing It (Not So) Straight: Queer Sports Romance Recs from Tamsen Parker

Today on the site author Tamsen Parker, whose Snow and Ice Games series just got two new entries yesterday (including the f/f Fire on the Ice) (You may also be familiar with a little book called In Her Court??), is here to recommend queer sports romance! 

***

Sports romance is on an upswing, and I think one of the major developments this time around is the significant presence of queer sports romance. For as long as there have been sports, queer people have been playing them, but that doesn’t mean we’ve been hearing about it. Which is only one of the reasons I love the crop of queer romances that are out right now. Sports has a way of uniting people; fans who root for the same team in a league, or who are supporting a national team during the Olympics or other international sporting event. It has a way of otherwise uniting people who may not see eye to eye or share similar interests.

We often talk about how important representation is, and I’d love to see more professional and elite athletes who are out, and I’d love to see more queer athletes in romance. That was one of the reasons I felt it was really important to be inclusive when I wrote the Snow and Ice Games series, which has m/f, m/m, and f/f pairings. Also,there are stories that just can’t be told with a het couple. Here are just a few of the reasons I love queer sports romance:

  1. There’s a special kind of tension when you want to bang your teammate.

Team dynamics add yet another layer to the heady tension already present in sports. In addition to the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat, you also get the internal jockeying, the rivalries, but also the encouragement and intimacy inherent in everyone working toward the same goal. In Layla Reyne’s Relay, Alex and Dane are teammates on the Olympic swim team who loathe each other. Like, seriously hate each other with the kind of passion only broken hearts can bring. Having to navigate team politics and training isn’t easy under the best of circumstances, but add to that complicated family situations and pants feels and you’ve got a recipe for high stakes drama. I’m also eagerly awaiting Medley, book two in the duology.

While Alex and Dane are roughly the same age, in my Seduction on the Slopes, Miles is the older, more experienced, weathered veteran, and Crash is the disaster of a newbie upstart who’s had a thing for Miles since he was a kid. Both slalom skiers on the US SIG team, they have to navigate the challenging dynamics of being teammates but also rivals, mentor and mentee, having completely different backgrounds and also a total and complete misunderstanding of each other. Oh, and the inconvenient pants feels…

  1. The bodies, and the money, and the press, oh my.

Yes, these things are common to all pro sports, and they’re some of the reasons sports romance is so popular. But the stakes for queer athletes are different than for their het counterparts, especially in the high testosterone arenas of pro football, hockey, baseball, and basketball. I’d argue especially football. Your own team and opposing teams may treat an athlete who’s queer and out differently than a het athlete, and the press frequently treats any celebrity’s sexuality as a news story.

Illegal Contact by Santino Hassell features Gavin who is a pro football player under house arrest for assaulting a man. In need of someone to keep track of his life and also be his gopher while he can’t leave his property, he hires Noah as his personal assistant. This one got off to a bit of a slow start for me, but in the end I loved how hard Gavin falls for Noah. Good news, if you like Illegal Contact, book two in the series—Down by Contact—is already out!

  1. In f/f romance, the presence of female athletes.

In m/f sports romance, the hero is—almost without exception—the athlete. In the SIG series, all of the heroines are athletes whereas not all of the heroes are. But when you’re reading f/f sports romance, you’re guaranteed that at least one of the heroines is an athlete, and oftentimes both of the heroines are. That’s the case in Edge of Glory by Rachel Spangler which is a slow burn romance featuring a prim and proper skier recovering from a career-threatening injury, and a fun-loving snowboarder looking at maybe her last Olympics. I liked the opposites attract dynamics of this book, and also the focus on all the training and work that goes into preparing to compete at an event like the Olympics. Elise and Corey are both intense in their own ways, and I loved how dedicated they were to their sports, and in the end, to each other.

I’ve also got two athlete heroines in Fire on the Ice, one an American speed skater and the other a Canadian figure skater. Theirs is a bit of a second chance romance after having hooked up at the previous SIGs but not contacting each other at all in the previous four years. This book also has the distinction of making my very seasoned editor blush so hard she had to stop reading it on the subway.

Other queer sports romances you may want to check out are below, let me know if you have any other favorites!

  • Glasgow Lads series by Avery Cockburn (Also, Avery has a CURLING romance coming out soon that I am SO LOOKING FORWARD TO. Ahem.)
  • Off Pitch by Brianna Kienitz
  • Out in the Field by Kate McMurray
  • Roller Girl by Vanessa North
  • Cold War by Keira Andrews

Tamsen Parker is a stay-at-home mom by day, USA Today bestselling erotic romance writer by naptime. Her novella CRAVING FLIGHT was named to the Best of 2015 lists of Heroes and Heartbreakers, Smexy Books, Romance Novel News, and Dear Author. Heroes and Heartbreakers called her Compass series “bewitching, humorous, erotically intense and emotional.”

She lives with her family outside of Boston, where she tweets too much, sleeps too little and is always in the middle of a book. Aside from good food, sweet rieslings and gin cocktails, she has a fondness for monograms and subway maps. She should really start drinking coffee.

 

Guest Recs from Erin Ptah: Webcomics About Soft Pastel Lesbians!

The next subset of Webcomics About Women In Love recs

I grouped this batch by…broadly similar coloring styles. By which I mean, the name of the aesthetic was too literally accurate to pass up. Though it does imply tropes and themes that don’t necessarily fit them all, so definitely read the summaries before deciding what to check out or pass on.

Today’s theme: Webcomics about soft pastel lesbians!


sample-alwayshuman

(1) Always Human by walkingnorth 

A story about nanobots, genetic engineering, and two girls falling in love. No matter how technology changes us, we’ll always be human.

Sci-fi romance, complete. In a future Australia, where high-tech modifications are used for everything from preventing diseases to restyling your hair, Austen (Chilean/Australian) never changes her appearance. It catches the eye of Sunati (mixed South Asian), who initially thinks she must be brave and iconoclastic. Turns out she just has an immune disorder and can’t use nanobots.

Sunati asks her out anyway, and ends up falling for the real Austen rather than the girl she’d built up in her imagination. The worldbuilding has neat high-tech touches — our heroines go on VR dates, there’s a ride in a space elevator — but the plot is slow and low-key, all about these normal human emotional struggles and school/job stresses.

(Note: pages have autoplay music.)


sample-sundaze

(2) Sundaze by HALE

Dahlia Liz, a floriculturist studying a new breed of aquatic plant, moves to the scenic coastal town of Sunsea. A town filled of sunshine, romance and surprises.

Slice-of-life with a touch of fantasy, ongoing. Dahlia moves into a new town and finds herself living next to Lori, a gorgeous singer-songwriter who is also hiding that she’s a secret mermaid. As you do.

Another slow and quiet plot — it’s suggested there will be mermaid drama in the future, but so far it’s just an undercurrent (…get it?) to small-town friend-making. And eventually girlfriend-making, although the characters are still in the “sure, she just sang a whole song about how inspirational I am and then explicitly told the audience it was dedicated to me, but I think she just wants to be friends” stage.

The art is so bright. You can feel the sunlight pouring out of every panel.


sample-acethexis

(3) Acethexis by Florence

Acethexis is an action/drama series about a non-binary person and an illegal android who are swept up into a life of crime in the eyes of their government.

Sci-fi drama, ongoing. Disaffected agender teen Ren sneaks out to a club and meets Lena, a runaway android programmed with emotions. That’s still the only “crime” in the story — that androids aren’t supposed to have feelings. But it was bad enough that her creator was either imprisoned or killed over it.

Well, she’s cute, and Ren is bored and reckless and not hurting for money, so they decide to help Lena change her appearance and skip town.

A sister comic to Always Human. They’re not actually in the same universe, but the authors are friends, and there’s a short interdimensional crossover.


sample-teadragonsociety

(4) Tea Dragon Society by Katie O’Neill

The story of Greta, a blacksmith apprentice, and the people she meets as she becomes entwined in the enchanting world of tea dragons.

Cute fantasy, complete. Tea dragons are cat-sized, domesticated, adorable, and take a lot of effort to raise. A bunch of them are kept at the tea shop owned by Hesekiel and Erik, who are also taking care of a shy amnesiac girl named Minette. Young neighbor Greta stumbles into their lives.

This one’s a quick read, only 52 pages, with a delicate mostly-lineless art style. The girls aren’t quite old enough to be interested in romance proper, but I’m including it because the first-crush setup is there — and the shop owners are a full-fledged couple, so it’s clearly not a “same-sex romance, what is that??” kind of narrative.


sample-girly

(5) girly by Josh V.

The culmination of everything random, fluffy, and gay.

Wacky comedy, complete. Definitely the oddball on this list, but all the art is soft and pink, so I figured it was close enough.

Otra is a depressed and uninspired designer when the eccentric Winter barges into her life and declares that Otra is her new sidekick. Also, whacks her with a human-sized dildo. Which sets the tone for a lot of their exploits to come.

It’s the kind of comic where the town’s main superhero has a fist for a head, random elephants wander through the background, Winter has a half-sister who is half-clipart, and the vet has a mindreading machine for cats. So it’s really not hard for Winter and her puzzled new sidekick to get into ridiculous adventures, falling in love along the way.

Bonus: Winter is the daughter of Wendy and The Other Girl, the main f/f couple from the artist’s earlier comic Cutewendy. It’s even more random, and the art is way less polished, but well worth reading if you liked Girly.


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 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.