Category Archives: Guest post

Guest Recs From Erin Ptah: LGBQ+ Webcomics With No Romance

Hey everyone, check it out, I managed to finish another webcomic reclist before Pride Month ends. (As a guest-poster, I don’t know if it’ll be published before Pride Month ends, but I want y’all to appreciate the effort anyway.) (Blogger’s Note: WELL, I messed this up tremendously, so in fact, while Erin did turn it in during Pride Month, uhhh…well.)

At this point I’ve recced a lot of strips about wlw/mlm characters who have active romances — some that develop over the course of the series, some that were in place when it started. Which makes sense, since that’s the most obvious way to establish and celebrate a character’s queerness. That said…you don’t stop being queer when you aren’t dating.

So I pulled together a bunch of comics featuring characters without romantic storylines, whose sexual orientations are indicated in other ways. And the rest of the writing makes it clear that it’s not authorial bias against same-sex relationships. These people are just frankly way too busy with other things right now.

Today’s theme: Webcomics with LGBQ+ characters who don’t have romances!

(Note that, if it’s an ongoing series, I’m not guaranteeing they won’t be paired off at some point down the road. Or saying it would be a bad thing if they did! Just reccing the comics based on the current state of the archives.)


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(1) Sleepless Domain by Mary Cagle

Sleepless Domain is a comic about an isolated city in the middle of a dangerous world filled with monsters. During the day, the city is perfectly safe. At night, however, the populace locks themselves inside as the city streets fill with monsters. The only ones who can combat these creatures are very special girls with the power to transform into Magical Girls!

Dark mahou shoujo, ongoing. In this world magical girls are widely-known (every costume upgrade gets gushed-over in the media), institutionally supported (they have special schools to accommodate the way they’re usually up all night fighting monsters!), and highly marketable (especially if your team has a branding manager).

But the monsters are serious, and can be fatal to a girl who lets her guard down. After a tragedy in the early chapters, the story focuses on the survivors’ struggle to deal with the grief and adapt to their changed lives.

In the face of all the other problems our heroines are dealing with, it’s refreshing that their world is so LGBTQ-friendly. There’s an unselfconsciously cuddly f/f couple in the supporting cast, and nobody finds it confusing or remarkable when a trans girl awakens as a mahou shoujo.

None of the main characters are dating, and most of their orientations could still be anything, but one was finally confirmed to have a fellow magical-girl ex. Plenty of readers already shipped her with her co-star, and that sure didn’t hurt. I do like the ship, and I can see canon going there at some point in the future…but not the near future. At this point I wouldn’t even describe their interactions as shipteasing. It’s all about friendship and recovery.


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(2) Forward by Mason “Tailsteak” Williams

Lee lives alone, and spends most of their time watching episodes of Martian cartoons and rating them out of five stars. They have no job, and necessities like food and clothing are delivered to their apartment and prepared by various devices that Lee either rents or owns. Like most people who have been given everything they say they want, Lee is miserable.

Sci-fi, ongoing. Lee is some form of transfeminine — I hesitate to use any specific present-day labels, because this future is a “post-bio-gender setting” in which most people use they/them pronouns anyway. Into their isolated life barges Zoa, a multipurpose companionship-bot (“Legally, I’m a vending machine”) whose primary function involves blowjobs.

Lee isn’t interested in buying sex. (Although they’re not upset or dysphoric at the topic, in case you were worried.) What they really crave is genuine social interaction, which Zoa also turns out to be pretty good at, in its own special way.

So now they’re…friends, sort of? And making plans to do more friendship-things in the future. Maybe even leaving Lee’s apartment and trying to interact with the rest of society. I can’t wait.

The art is solid, but this is one of those strips I would read if it was all done in stick figures, because the writing for the dialogue is great. Clever and snappy, funny and relatable, and every once in a while it’ll punch you in the heart out of nowhere.

I’ll also throw in a qualified rec for the artist’s previous comic, Leftover Soup. There are a lot of elements that I wouldn’t blame anyone for avoiding — most notably, the deaths of two young black men, as well as one pet hamster. But if the rough parts aren’t dealbreakers for you, the good parts are very good. And it has some of the only main-character polyamory webcomic representation I can think of: a five-person unit involving two mostly-gay guys, two bi/pan women, and one straight guy, as written by a poly/pan author.


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(3) Widdershins by Kate Ashwin

Widdershins is a series of Victorian-era adventure stories, set in the fictional town of Widdershins, West Yorkshire- England’s magical epicentre, home to bounty hunters, failed wizards, stage magicians, and more, besides.

Fantasy adventure, ongoing. Powerful and deadly spirits keep getting summoned, causing intricate havoc, and then being desummoned by mismatched groups of lovable oddballs. The first few stories seem like disconnected adventures in the same general universe, but eventually the groups start meeting each other, and have to unravel the villains’ shared backstory in order to bind them all for real.

And if the general description doesn’t hook you, try this: One of the mismatched groups consists of amazing cooks from all throughout history, who got swalloved out of their home eras and transported to the same time period by an evil magical hotel.

The world seems to have period-typical homophobia on a cultural level — all the socially-acknowledged romances, certainly all the marriages, are m/f. Still, on a personal level, none of the main characters seem to bat an eye at same-sex attractions or romances among their friends. The actual couples of all gender combinations are pretty backgrounded; most of the main cast is busy with other things. I won’t spoil you for which of the women (more than one!) turn out to have ex-girlfriends.

Bonus: one of the characters is described as asexual, and nobody has a problem with that either. And in the time travel storyline, the author makes it explicit that full marriage equality is in this world’s future.

…so you can probably guess which arc is my favorite. That said, the writing is funny and engaging across-the-board, all the stories are well-paced, and all the characters are wonderful.


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(4) Magical How by Eurika Yusin Gho

Gabe and Booker are just two normal college guys, sharing an apartment and failing spectacularly at love. But one day, a talking golf ball named Hal lands in their lives and offers them magical powers…and despite it being a terrible idea, Gabe signs up immediately! Now he must don the admittedly flattering dress of a Magical and fight for love and justice, while Booker, blinded by the sparkles, wants nothing to do with any of this.

Magical-boy drama, ongoing. At first Gabe is fighting basic monsters-of-the-day, but then he gets taken under the wing of a team of higher-level magical boys with ulterior motives, and the plot starts developing layers. Although the artist never loses sight of her self-professed motivation, “I just want to draw cute boys in skirts.”

The non-magical roommate, Booker, is gay — which we know partly because he has a T-shirt that says so. We’ve gotten hints about a troubled romantic past, which makes it unsurprising that he’s avoided any love interests in the present.

A lot of the fandom ships him with Gabe based on odd-couple chemistry, but the author doesn’t seem to…and frankly, neither do I. In spite of the pink-on-pink aesthetic and overflowing enthusiasm of a standard mahou-shoujo protagonist, Gabe has a surprising amount of unlikeability. I’m hoping the plot will involve him growing and maturing, not even into a worthy boyfriend, just into a better roommate.


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(5) The Suburban Jungle by John “The Gneech” Robey

The original The Suburban Jungle (Starring Tiffany Tiger) is a furry slice-of-life/romantic-comedy/bad-sf webcomic created by The Gneech, which ran from February 1999 – November 2009.

Furry comedy, complete. Tiffany Tiger is a model/actress who has a small-time career in New San Angeles, and would like to make it bigger. A warmhearted mix of showbiz-industry jokes (minor characters include Jerry Springer-Spaniel and Weird Al Hamstervic), family shenanigans, romantic misadventures, and the occasional interdimensional conspiracy.

Fair warning, this one does spend a lot of time on the straight characters’ love lives — mostly Tiffany’s string of relationships and her half-sister’s dating-to-marriage arc. It’s not a “no time for romance” strip overall. It’s just that there’s only one major gay character — Tiffany’s manager, Drezzer — never gets a serious romantic storyline despite being shamelessly flirty.

But it doesn’t come across like the artist thinks less of queer couples (there’s at least one same-sex romance in the background cast), and Drezzer isn’t portrayed as some kind of lonely tragic cautionary tale. He has a group of friends he cares about, an enjoyable job that he’s good at, and a happy and fulfilling life in general. He just happens not to have a partner at the moment. And that’s okay.

(I do know there are more queer characters, with and without romances, in the ongoing sequel comic, Rough Housing. Haven’t read enough of it to go into detail. It’s set in the same universe, but follows the next generation of characters, and I don’t know if they mention any details on Drezzer’s future in particular.)


Erin Ptah likes cats, magical girls, time travel, crossdressing, and webcomics. She’s the artist behind But I’m A Cat Person and Leif & Thorn, both of which have several unattached queer characters in the main casts. Say hi on Twitter at @ErinPtah.

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Why My First Novel Couldn’t Be Anything But #ownvoices: a Guest Post by Naomi Tajedler

Today on the site we have guest post from Naomi Tajedler, author of the recently released Concerto in Chroma Major. Naomi’s here to talk about her book’s being #ownvoices, which, for those who don’t know, is a term that was coined by author Corinne Duyvis to refer to work written by an author who shares the marginalized identity (or identities) of their main character.

Before we get to the post, here’s some info on the book:

Alexandra Graff, a Californian living in Paris, is a stained-glass artist whose synesthesia gifts her with the ability to see sounds in the form of colors. When she is commissioned to create glass panels for the new Philharmonie, she forms a special bond with the intriguing Halina Piotrowski, a famous Polish pianist. As their relationship develops, Alexandra shows Halina the beautiful images her music inspires. But when it comes to a lasting future together, will Halina’s fear of roots and commitment stand in the way?

Buy it!

And here’s the post!

***

Like many xennial authors, my first creative writing came in the form of fanfiction. This medium turned out to be exactly what I needed to figure out what I wanted to read, what I wanted to write, and how to create my own characters. More importantly, it gave me the courage to write the stories I felt needed to be told, to express the voices I needed to be heard.

It’s at this starting point in my career as an author that I turned to YA. Not only did an opportunity to take this leap into original fiction came in the shape of an anthology (at Duet Books, Interlude Press’ YA imprint), but I felt like the very first time I wanted to write a story all of my own, I needed to write it for Past Me. For the teenager I used to be. For her insecurities, for her doubts, for her pains, for what she didn’t know but unconsciously set her apart from her peers.

Fourteen-year old me needed a story telling her that no matter what, if she stayed true to herself, the people around her would still love her. Thus What The Heart Wants was born.

The story of a young girl who discovers that Straight may not be her norm was a story I could have used at Noam’s age. I could also have used the story of someone who doesn’t fit “normal” beauty standards and yet is loved and crushed on. I could also have used, at some point in my development as a woman who is still questioning herself, the story of someone who refuses to date simply because it is “expected” of her.

Writing Noam’s coming of age story came to me pretty naturally, because my teenage self, back when I wrote it, was bursting at the seams to come back into my life, with all the strength, rage and loudmouth adulthood had tamed into silence.

Writing this short story unlocked the door I had unconsciously closed on my plot bunnies. Stories I had told myself, funny and adventurous. Stories I had daydreamed about while studying and / or working.

Then the time came to think about what would be next, and I decided that I needed to write, well, for me now. For the adult I had become in spite of, or thanks to, the heartbreaks and pains.

Writing Concerto in Chroma Major took me a while, because a short story is not a novel, and writing for adults is not the same challenge as writing for young adults, obviously.

Parallelly to writing this story is when I started therapy, and some sessions were dedicated to that process. Unconsciously, a lot of it infused this story, which is why it cannot suit a young adult audience. It’s not that young adults cannot deal with darker themes, not at all. There are challenges, ideas, we face in Life later on and an insight that demands years to step back from the situation and look at it differently to accept someone else’s point of view.

Through the story, I realized that I projected a lot of who I am into my characters: Halina has my independence, my wanderlust, my love for art; Alexandra has my synesthesia, my fatness, my views on Judaism and how to be Jewish, my romantic identity. She also represents the woman I aim to be: more confident in myself and my body, more at ease with herself and her pursuit of romance, more comfortable with confrontations too.

Concerto in Chroma Major is #ownvoices in many ways. Through it, I express my voice as a fat, bisexual, Jewish woman, all communities that need more representation from within.

No one can claim to speak for an entire community, but I do know that my voice is one representation within a more global picture.

***

Born and raised in Paris, France, Naomi Tajedler learned to love art from the womb when her father played guitar to her pregnant mother. Her love for books led her to a Bachelor of Arts in Book Restoration and Conservation, followed by a Master’s Degree in Art market  management. Her first short story, “What The Heart Wants”, was published in Summer Love (2015), an LGBTQ Young Adult collection by Duet Books. When not writing, Naomi can be found sharing body positive tips on social media and trying recipes out on her loved ones.

Twitter handle: @Naomi_Tajedler

How Gender Stereotyping Inspired Teddy’s Favorite Toy: a Guest Post by Christian Trimmer

If you’re somehow involved in the kidlit publishing world, you’ve almost definitely heard of Christian Trimmer, Editorial Director of Henry Holt Books for Young Readers. But he’s also an author, most recently of the picture book Teddy’s Favorite Toy, about a little boy whose favorite toy is a doll. He’s here today to talk about the personal experience that inspired the book and the growing conversation about gender nonconformity.

But first, here’s the book, which released in February and is illustrated by Madeline Valentine:

A mom goes to great lengths to rescue her son’s favorite doll in this delightful tribute to treasured toys—and mothers.

Teddy has a lot of cool toys. But his very favorite doll has the best manners, the sickest fighting skills, and a fierce sense of style.

Then one morning, something truly awful happens. And there’s only one woman fierce enough to save the day. Can Teddy’s mom reunite Teddy with his favorite toy?

Buy it: B&N * Amazon * IndieBound

***

I have a vivid memory from my childhood. I’m five years old, lying in my parents’ bed alone. It’s close to bedtime; my mother is somewhere in the apartment, and my father has yet to return home from work. I am sucking my thumb, an activity that my mom has strictly forbidden but that I just cannot keep from doing (again, I’m five). Suddenly, my dad is in the doorframe of the room, and I instinctively pop my thumb out of my mouth. I know my dad doesn’t really care about the thumb-sucking, but if he tells my mom, I will be yelled at. He gently walks over and kneels in front of me, and as if he knows what I’m thinking, he says, “Let’s make a deal. I won’t say anything about you sucking your thumb as long as you cut out all the girl stuff.”

The “girl stuff.” He means me putting on my mom’s skirts and lipstick and sticking tennis balls in my shirt. He’s talking about my play preferences, particularly my favorite toy, a Wonder Woman doll inspired by the TV series starring Lynda Carter, a doll I just happen to have tucked in beside me. I instantly feel shame, and I give him a nod of ascent. Yes, Dad, I will try to behave less like a girl. (If I have a cornerstone memory, this might be it.) I remember coming home from kindergarten soon thereafter to find her gone, my mom informing me that she had thrown the doll away because one of its legs had broken off. In my mind, I scream, “But I don’t care about the leg—I still love her!”

Though I try to keep my promise to my dad, I fail. But I learn to keep my preferences hidden. I only play with Wonder Woman when I’m alone. I look forward to playdates away from my home, particularly with Muriel, who is French and has all of the Strawberry Shortcake dolls and is happy to share them with a boy. When I play superheroes with the other kids in the neighborhood, I whisper my chosen character—Wonder Woman, naturally—to my brother and him alone. As I get older, I start to collect more gender-appropriate toys: the Masters of the Universe and Thundercats. Teela and Cheetara are my favorites, but it is easy enough to keep that hidden among their all-dude colleagues.

Still, I’m not behaving the way a boy should. I’m teased at school. I try to be what they want me to be and fail again, and the layers of shame are getting deeper. I’m given mixed messages from my mom: “Don’t let their teasing bother you, they’re just jealous. But you better not be gay.” I am gay, and I don’t talk about it in front of her for years to make sure she feels comfortable. That approach—put others comfort before your own—becomes second nature in most of my relationships, personal and professional. It is exhausting.

I just wanted to play with a doll!

Years later, I write a picture book called Teddy’s Favorite Toy about a kid and his favorite doll and their awesome adventures. His mother doesn’t care that he loves this doll—she celebrates it. As I’m working on the manuscript, Target announces that it will stop labeling toys for boys and girls. On the day we announce the deal, Mattel runs a Barbie commercial featuring a boy for the first time. The outrage that accompanies both events is muted by the overwhelming support.

There’s a growing conversation about gender nonconformity. (That’s what I was doing back in the early 1980s—gender nonconforming. I much prefer that expression to “sissy.”) Earlier this year, the New York Times published an article called “Breaking Gender Stereotypes in the Toy Box,” which concluded, “Children are actively seeking clues about what their gender identities mean; toys and play should give them space, not narrow their choices.” Last summer, the Times published an article about “How to Raise a Feminist Son,” which included this very valuable lesson: Let him be himself. Though progress has been made in breaking down gender stereotypes for children, the barriers remain strong, particularly for boys. Michael Kimmel, a professor of sociology and gender studies, in a CNN article titled “Why Girls Can Be Boyish but Boys Can’t Be Girlish,” noted, “Women have changed what it means to be a woman and embrace a much larger human canvas. Men are still painting on half the canvas.”

Though I was raised in an era that shunned and shamed its effeminate boys, I found a way to move past traditional ideas of masculinity, to use more of the canvas. Therapy absolutely helped, as did an intelligent, open-minded circle of friends. Living in New York City made everything seem possible—I highly recommend it. Being gay, the ultimate affront to traditional masculinity, revealed to me the limitations put on straight men in terms of the careers they are “allowed” to pursue and the way they approach relationships. I highly recommend it.

I have friends with small children, and it’s amazing to see how gentle and encouraging they are with them. I hope that for every child—that they get to be themselves and experience the world without limits. I wrote Teddy’s Favorite Toy  for all the little kids who maybe like things they’re not supposed to. I wrote it for the parents who allow their kids to explore the world unfettered. Most of all, I wrote it for five-year-old me, who was made to feel ashamed for loving a doll.

***

Christian Trimmer is a children’s book editor and writer. He is the author of Simon’s New BedMimi and Shu in I’ll Race You!Teddy’s Favorite Toy, and Snow Pony and the Seven Miniature Ponies. He lives in Brooklyn, New York, with his partner. Learn more about him, his books, and lots of other things at ChristianTrimmer.com.

Neither Author-Illustrator Airlie Anderson on Creating a Genderfluid Picture Book: a Guest Post

Please welcome author-illustrator Airlie Anderson to the site today to discuss how her picture book, Neither, which has a genderfluid main character, came to be!

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NeitherGrowing up, my sisters and I were lucky enough to have picture books all around us. We each had our own little bookshelf with our favorites stacked inside, and sometimes we got them signed at our local bookshop. (I think I was around eleven when Chris Van Allsburg signed my copies of The Polar Express and Jumanji. I told him I wanted to be an author-illustrator, and he told me I could do it, and to keep at it. I was starstruck.) Our parents never took our picture books away or told us they were “too young” as we got older, and I still haven’t stopped reading or collecting them. I’ve been a picture book reader my whole life, and I’ve been scribbling pictures and stories for just as long.

A few years ago, I had a dream about a multi-hued character with several different animal qualities. When I woke up I thought, “that’s a book idea and it’ll be called Neither.” I don’t usually envision a cover or a title before the book is even written, but that’s what happened with this story. I drew a lot of little Neither doodles and words in my sketchbook in a coffee shop to keep the idea going, then sat down in my studio to really work on it. One day I started scribbling in the early afternoon, and when I looked up again, it was dark outside. It was a “flow” experience, a rare one in which I got totally lost. I love those. They can’t be forced or brought on artificially.

It wasn’t until months later, when I thought back on the dream about the multi-hued character, the sketching that came after, and all the other influences that crossed my path while writing Neither, that I realized something important: around the time I had the initial dream, I had been teaching art classes to an inspiring group of middle schoolers. One of them had been identifying as female, and over the course of the next year, transitioned to identifying as male. The idea of questioning something as ingrained in our society as gender made me think of my characters and story in a new light. My student’s fluidity opened my mind to many different modes of representation and expression.

He also happened to be a creative sketcher, freely scribbling beautiful creatures and characters that made the rest of the class say “how did you do that!” with smiles on their faces (and sometimes their heads on desks, playfully flabbergasted). His ability with art was another inspiring piece of the puzzle—self-expression seemed to flow from him in a way that we should all hope to achieve. Even though I didn’t realize it at the time, this student has a remarkable effect on the creation of Neither, who seemed to almost spontaneously generate in my mind. All I had to do was stand aside and let the character hatch.

It wasn’t the only thing that hatched during the making of this book, though. Right when my editor, designer, and I were getting into the heart of Neither, I gave birth to my first baby. I’d known the timing of these things would align, and we could have delayed the book process a bit, but I figured I would just power through. Art school had prepared me for everything, right? And when my husband and I first started to settle in at home with the baby, I thought, “Hey! I still feel like myself!” But in retrospect, I was swirling into a mysterious new world. A terrifyingly cute (there needs to be a word for this) being had come into our lives, and his newborn expressions and proportions somehow worked their way into the book. The new parent sleep deprivation haze removed a lot of my inhibitions, especially concerning the weirdness of the characters. There’s one spread that features the creatures of The Land of All, including a skateboarding narwhal wearing a scarf. I can tell you with confidence that this creature would never have popped into my head if I hadn’t been in a hallucinatory state of mind.

Once I finalized the pencil sketches for all the spreads, it was time for my favorite part of the process, the icing on the cake: painting! By that time, the baby was starting to have a regular(ish) sleeping pattern, so I knew I had a certain chunk of time to work on Neither each night. My chef husband would make snacks for me if I was still working when he got home from the restaurant. Much tea was consumed. (Tip: you’re not in the zone until you almost dip your brush in your tea.) I would set up my paints and palette, turn on NPR or my music, and enjoy the feeling of the paint gliding over the paper. The backgrounds of this book are simple but contain a lot of doodly details, which gave me a meditative feeling as I worked to create a world for the characters and for our readers. As author-illustrator James Marshall once said: “A picture book becomes a whole world if it’s done properly.”

In Neither, the world is “The Land of This and That,” a place where every creature fits squarely into one of two distinct teams: Yellow or blue. Bird or bunny. One or the other. But Neither is a green bird-bunny, or bunny-bird. A birdunny? A bunnird? It’s both. It’s neither. This book is about being in between, about not fitting into a typical category. When I wrote it, I hoped that it wouldn’t end up being tied to any single metaphor, but that each reader would interpret it in their own unique way. People have told me they think the story is about race, gender, social weirdness, or being an outsider. The thing they all agree on, however, is that it’s about inclusion and acceptance.

I try to make books for everyone, but particularly for very young readers, children who need a jumping-off place to start talking about being different, feeling awkward, finding a special spot in the world. Someday my son may experience exclusion or pressure to make a choice one way or the other, when it’s his in-betweenness that should be celebrated. My hope is that a little green bird-bunny’s in-betweenness will resonate with him and with others, and that they will each take comfort in knowing that The Land of All is out there.

Neither is available now!

Buy it: B&N * Amazon * IndieBound 

***

Airlie Anderson_Author PhotoAirlie Anderson is the author and illustrator of Cat’s Colors, Momo and Snap Are Not Friends, and numerous other books for children. She is also the recipient of the Moonbeam Children’s Book Award, the Independent Publishers Book Award, and the Practical Preschool Award. She grew up in California, graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design, and now lives in New Jersey.

Guest Recs From Erin Ptah: Webcomics With Interspecies F/F Romance

It’s been a while since the last webcomic-rec roundup…mostly because I started to have trouble coming up with themes where I haven’t recced all my favorite examples already.

But Pride Month means promo posts all over Twitter and Tumblr, which means I’ve had a deluge of new recs to go through, and now you get to enjoy the results. Especially if you like robots, demons, aliens, and/or furries. This set is part fantasy, part sci-fi, and all wlw.

Today’s theme is: Webcomics with interspecies f/f romance!


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(1) Poppy O’Possum by I. Everett

Poppy O’Possum is a story about a mother named Poppy Odeletta Possum who lives on a world called Flora and wants nothing more than to retire to a comfortable homemaking life with her daughter, Lily. Unfortunately, living’s especially rough on Flora when you’re an opossum, and Poppy’s a regular trouble magnet. She’s moved to a little town in the Fenneclands called Eggton to try and start a new, low-profile life. This fails immediately.

Fantasy comedy-adventure, ongoing. It’s heartwarming. It’s funny. It also has some of the most engaging and complicated magical worldbuilding I’ve ever read, which gets revealed layer by layer. The main relevant part at first is that opossums are the only animals that nullify magic — which is very inconvenient when magic is the foundation of most of your tech, transportation, healthcare, and society in general.

So Poppy and her daughter are dealing with a lot of prejudice, suspicion, and avoidance. Fortunately, Poppy is ridiculously buff, strong, and durable. As long as she has ways to earn money by punching things, she’ll manage.

The rest of the cast is delightful too. There’s some cool exploration of fantasy-world disability, like the guard who uses a magical-construct prosthetic to replace a missing arm. LGBT+ characters keep popping up in the ensemble, including a fashion-designer Shiba Inu drag queen. And when one of Poppy’s friends suspects her of having a secret romance, it’s scandalous, but not because they’re both women — it’s all “b-but you’re an opossum and she’s the Queen.”

(The Queen is an adorable perky fennec magic chemist, and they are actually dating now, and I ship them like it’s my job.)


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(2) Starward Lovers by Miki B.

A piping hot f/f love story about longing and space aliens.

Sci-fi drama, ongoing. Cute shy butch falls for glamorous cool femme…who turns out to be a secret-agent alien fighter. Cute shy butch (Jen) gets drawn into hot space-warrior femme’s (Revonda’s) team of adventurers. (These two are human, but there are other human/alien pairings along the way.) Hot space-warrior appears stoic and closed-off, especially compared to her more gregarious teammates…but could she have more going on under the surface?

The art is slick and clean; the shading is deceptively minimalist, but used to great effect. Jen is cute and likeable, while Revonda’s style is clearly “lesbian femme” as distinct from “conventionally-attractive straight woman”, which is something a lot of artists (self included) have a hard time pulling off.

I should mention that this one sat in my “do I like it enough to rec?” pile for a long time. A few chapters later, it shot up to “rec this to everyone you possibly can.” Without spoiling anything specific, there were things in the writing that were off-putting when it wasn’t clear if they were intentional, and then it turned out yes, yes they were. So even if the early chapters don’t grab you, stick with it. There’s payoff.


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(3) Kill 6 Billon Demons by Abaddon (Tom Parkinson-Morgan)

Sorority sister Allison Ruth must travel to Throne, the ancient city at the center of the multiverse, in an epic bid to save her boyfriend from the clutches of the seven evil kings that rule creation.

Fantasy drama, ongoing. When a supernatural event barges through Allison’s dorm room, her boyfriend gets kidnapped and she ends up in a hell-dimension with a world-conquering magic key stuck in her forehead. At first she spends a lot of time getting dragged around and expositioned at by nominally-helpful entities who don’t want the key ending up in the wrong hands.

The amount of detail in the art is breathtaking, both in the characters — even one-off background figures — and in the urban demonic landscapes. They’re full of levels and lights and eerie architecture…frequently incorporating the stony mountain-sized bodies of earlier beings. I don’t even want to think about how long a single page must take to draw.

Eventually our heroine decides to seize the unexpected new power and go save the boyfriend, largely because nobody else is gonna do it. Along the way she ends up with more-substantial feelings for one of her female allies — a group that includes a law-enforcement angel with gender issues and an ex-monster-crimelord demon who writes fanfiction. Bonus: the fact that Allison is a long-time Sailor Moon fan is a reocurring plot element.

Heads-up, this one includes graphic violence/injury. Along with most of the other content you’d expect from a strip about demons being demons.


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(4) Circuits and Veins by Jem Yoshioka

Androids and Humans, are we really so different? Navigating chronic illness, prejudice and a new relationship, two awkward dorks are trying to understand each other.

Sci-fi romance, ongoing. Aki is a virtual-reality pet designer, working from home in between flare-ups. Ai is an underemployed android, a model old enough to have experienced the AI rights revolution, who just moved in next door.

There’s some ongoing tension from Aki’s chronic pain and a recent breakup, and Ai’s body starting to show that it’s past its warranty date. But mostly it’s fluff, both women occupied with cute texting, pet-sitting, housewarming gifts, job shenanigans, and getting to know each other.


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(5) Patchwork and Lace by Sooz

An adventure/romance about a Lovecraftian Disney Princess mage and her flesh golem partner in monster hunting. It’s about ladies fightin monsters and havin dark pasts and general relationship stuff.

Fantasy adventure, ongoing. Sheol’s a golem with super-strength. Lilika’s a talented human magician with a frilly fashion sense. They travel the world, hunting monsters and adoring each other.

Most of the pages so far involve the first storyline, which wrapped up relatively recently. An entire cave temple was sealed off to protect the town from the results of a summoning gone bad, and our heroines are asked to safely retrieve the bodies. After all, it’s been long enough that no one is still alive in there…right?

(Heads-up for death, PTSD, and discussion of sexual assault.)

Sheol and Lilika refer to each other as “friends” in public — possibly in response to homophobia (we haven’t seen any other open same-sex couples), possibly because a golem being in a relationship with any human would seem weird and threatening to people who don’t know her. Either way, they save the romantic stuff for when nobody else is around.


Erin Ptah likes cats, magical girls, time travel, crossdressing, and webcomics. She’s the artist behind But I’m A Cat Person (including human/battle-monster f/f) and Leif & Thorn (no human/vampire f/f yet, but stick around). Say hi on Twitter at @ErinPtah.

Author-Blogger M. Hollis Presents Two Writers Making Brazilian F/F Happen!

I’m extremely excited to welcome author-blogger M. Hollis back to the site today with a very cool post on Brazilian f/f writers. It doesn’t really need any introduction, so I’m gonna shove off and let Maria take it away!

***

There is something about growing up without seeing yourself on any kind of media that alienates you from the world. It makes you feel like something is wrong with you. One of my most poignant memories from my teenage years was watching my friends just talking to each other and feeling like they were speaking in another language I couldn’t understand. And then being left behind.

It took me until my twenties to understand what was this barrier that existed between me and most of the other teenage girls. I like girls. In a sexual, romantic, any kind of way. I want to kiss women, marry women, have the epic love story with women. When my friends talked about wanting these things with men, I felt uncomfortable, broken, alone.

I didn’t know I could like women when I was as a teenager. Of course I knew gay people existed, but I didn’t know I was allowed to be like them. The first time I’ve heard the full acronym LGBTQIAP+ was in college and I only read my first F/F book a few years ago. So when I started writing my own fiction many years ago they were completely different from the stories I write today.

Brazilian television, books, any kind of media we have, doesn’t treat us LGBTQIAP+ folks in the best way. For many years, we were censored from telenovelas, and until today, any kind of kiss between people of the same gender is received with some rage from part of our society.

But change is happening. In the first days of 2018, Malhação, the biggest teenage TV Show on national TV with more than 20 years of running, had its first kiss between two women. And this change is happening in books too. Authors like Olívia Pilar and Solaine Chioro have been publishing stories with diversity that are finally giving young LGBTQIAP+ Brazilian people a mirror where they can see themselves. Reading their stories made me feel so incredibly happy. It was like finding everything I was looking for all these years. It can be great to read books about other people from other countries, but there is nothing like finding Brazilian characters who are living similar things I live.

There is a call for intersectionality that is clearly growing online to give marginalized readers and creators their own space. It’s a slow change. But it’s a change that I’m happy to be a part of.

I hope that this next Brazilian generation can have all the books they deserve. I hope that it makes them feel less alone. That we can keep fighting to make our media more inclusive and that we can provide every day more forms of representation for all kinds of people.

I talked to some other YA Brazilian writers and I’m glad to have Olívia Pilar and Mareska Cruz sharing a bit about their own journey in writing their stories.

Olívia Pilar

Photo taken from author’s website

Being a writer wasn’t always a dream or something that I wanted as a kid. I always liked to write, always loved words, but also thought that writing wasn’t for me. And then I graduated in Journalism. I thought that was the career I wanted to pursue. I thought that was what I wanted to write. And it wasn’t until the beginning of 2017 that I realised that what I liked to write weren’t articles or news or notes. It was fiction, that maybe had a little bit of reality — or not. I wanted to write about real people, but not exactly people that exist.

My first adventure into fiction was writing a fanfiction with a friend — it was a Camren story, the most popular ship from the girl band Fifth Harmony. It was my friend’s idea and I dove into it with her. According to her, it was the best way to practice my writing skills. I was a little lost by then, I didn’t know what to do with my life, so at least it was a good way to distract myself. And it worked! Little by little, I was able to get more comfortable, to understand the characters better — fanfic isn’t really easy, because you need to work with something that already exists.

Now our fanfiction — still being written — has more than 137k readings on Wattpad, but the best thing in this story (a fictional universe where Camila Cabello is a Brazilian girl from Rio de Janeiro and Lauren Jauregui is an American girl studying abroad) gave me was the courage to actually write something and show it to another person. The almost immediate feedback that was made possible by the platform was also a way to tell myself that I had potential.

My second work was a short-story created exclusively for a contest. I didn’t win, but I saw the bright side of joining in. It was the beginning of my path as a writer. This first story, “Dia de Domingo” (Sunday’s Day), was published later on Amazon. Before, I published “Entre estantes” (Between Shelves) and “Tempo ao tempo” (Time To Time), also on Amazon, and my first novel on Wattpad, “Dois a Dois” (2×2, a reference to soccer plays).

My path as a writer is still short (it has been almost a year since I first published my short story), not so long as others young writers, but as a bisexual Black woman (it’s important to say that), I can say it’s been amazing. I met a lot of people — from publishing or not —, got a lot of messages and every day, my feeling of belonging grows. It’s what I was looking for, back in 2010 when I started college. Did I find it in Journalism? Yes, but not as much as I feel right now.

I can also say the publishing world has been good to me. I’m still an indie author that doesn’t have a complete novel published, but the reception was so good that, for me, it was already worth it. I didn’t think that writing love stories about other bisexual women (most of them black) would take me to the top of Amazon best-selling list for weeks, but it did. My three short-stories are always on Amazon Top 5 of LGBT YA Fiction. They are there and being read.

But I’m not naïve. I know it’s a long road. I know that, like me, there are other girls that write f/f fiction that will never have courage to share their stories with the world,  because our whole lives people tell us that they don’t matter. But they are as important as any other story. And it’s the messages from readers saying, “I saw myself in your short-story” that give me strength to keep going. To see what waits for me in the corner. To take risks. To share my stories. To show my characters to the world.

It started with a fanfiction, but it could have started in any other way. I think the most important is to start. Even though you think no one will read, even if it’s only for you. I don’t think the industry is totally open to some of our stories yet, but we don’t need to hide because of it. We need to put them out in the world and let them be seen.

You can find and support Olívia Pilar here!

Mareska Cruz

I always liked writing and the desire to one day be a Writer (with the uppercase W) was always there, silent, but it used to be satiated with short texts. I never managed to stretch a story beyond the usual 10,000 words that I always wrote on NaNoWriMo before setting the project aside. One day I met the person who told me “let’s do something about this”, and we talked, and suddenly, I had something I never thought I would have: I had a novel. It existed. And then came another novel, which is still in the process of editing, but it was yet another victory. After this came a Christmas short story, my first published work in a collection, and with it came the realization that the desire to be a Writer was slowly becoming real. With it, there also came the notion of responsibility I have in this process: with the story I want to tell, with the people who will read it, and with myself.

It was only in my early twenties that I understood that what I felt wasn’t really a phase, or something that could be pushed aside. It couldn’t be pushed aside, and even I didn’t want to push it. When I was younger, I didn’t care about seeing only a part of me in the protagonists that I loved, because I didn’t know I could have it any other way. The time it took me to understand myself as a bisexual woman coincided with the moment I started to think about what kind of writer I wanted to be, and what kind of stories I wanted to tell. I wanted LGBTQ+ characters, happy with their sexuality and their relationships, living their lives with good and bad moments, but even more than that—I wanted those characters to EXIST. As protagonists, being the center of their stories, and not only being the token gay friend allowed in a sea of straight characters.

When my Christmas story was published I saw a lot of readers happily commenting the fact that my main character is a bisexual girl with a reciprocated crush on her best friend, I knew I was on the right path. Young-adult literature in Brazil and even the editorial market in general is just beginning to be open to more stories with LGBTQ+ main characters, but it’s still very slow, testing its ground. I still long for more main characters who identify as lesbian, bisexual, trans, and ace. I know our path is very long, but I’m excited that I get to be a part of this. It’s my gift to teenage me: “you’ve spent your whole life without seeing yourself. Now you can.”

Find and support Mareska Cruz here!

***

M. Hollis is a Brazilian writer working on stories about women who love other women while also running Bibliosapphic, a blog dedicated to sapphic literature. In her free time, you will always find her baking, reading fanfiction and binge-watching too many TV shows. Currently, she is living her best gay life in Canada and writing more than she sleeps.

The Magic of Friendship in LGBTQ YA Books: a Guest Post by Julian Winters

I’m delighted to once again have on the site Julian Winters, author of the upcoming bi YA sports romance Running With Lions! In case you missed his last post, Julian interviewed webcomic creator TJ Ryan, and today, he’s back to do some book recommending!

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In Running With Lions, the main character Sebastian has two things he believes he’ll never survive without: soccer and his friends. He’s in his last year of high school, faced with the choices of what lies next for his future, and trying to navigate a troublesome re-connection with his ex-best friend, Emir. The only thing he can fall back on is his friendships. I thought it’d be fun to look at some of my favorite YA books that tackle coming of age, hardships, humor, and romance, but also my favorite topic: “How much do our friendships help shape people we become?”

Not Your Sidekick by C.B. Lee

29904219Superheroes? Check. Girl crushes? Check. A band of uncertain teens taking on a corrupt agency while trying to keep their own friendships together? Double check. This book (and series) is a fun and wonderfully diverse with a great look at how friendships change when secrets are involved. And it’s impossible not to fall in love with the main character, Jess Tran or her genius little brother and their MonRobot, Chả.

Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan

23228.jpgIn a town where the quarterback is the homecoming queen, cheerleaders ride motorcycles at pep rallies, and being LGBTQ+ is like wearing a T-shirt and jeans, Paul faces more important things than his crush on the new guy, Noah. He’s torn between being the ultimate best friend to Tony, who lives in a town where he can’t be openly gay, and trying not to meddle in his other friends complicated drama. The ever-changing dynamic in Paul’s circle of friends takes a toll on his life and asks all the right questions about how far we can go for friendships.

Picture Us in the Light by Kelly Loy Gilbert

35960060.jpgDaniel’s senior year of high school isn’t exactly what he thought it’d be. Yes, he’s been accepted into his dream art school, but the rest is a journey through dark family secrets, pining over his best friend, standing up against policies, and dealing with loss. But Daniel’s complicated relationships with his friends is an honestly raw look at what we’ll do in the name of friendship and to amend for mistakes we’ve made in the past.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

12000020Aristotle Mendoza doesn’t have friends. Or, at least, he doesn’t set out to find any. He’s fighting his own battles with family secrets, identity, and anger from an unknown place. And then there’s Dante—the squeaky-voiced boy who loves his parents and swimming (and Aristotle), but struggles with his heritage. Their journey is a magnificent and sometimes painful exploration of friendship and how it heals wounds we never see. How friendship can also unlock pieces of ourselves we’ve unconsciously fought against.

The Summer of Jordi Perez (And the Best Burger in Los Angeles) by Amy Spalding

31246717Abby’s goals aren’t like her friends. She’s not interested in romance. She wants to rule the fashion world and she’s not missing an opportunity to get her start by interning at her favorite boutique. Abby refuses to be the queer, fat girl sidekick in her own story. This book is filled with humor and delightful girl crushes and empowerment. It also never shies from letting friendships take centerstage. Abby’s on an unexpected journey of self-love but leave it to her friendship with Jax (and their quest for the best burger) to sweeten this already wonderful summer book.

Openly Straight/Honestly Ben by Bill Konigsberg

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Exploring sexuality and identity is not an easy thing to do when your miles and miles from home. Especially not at an all-boys school where Rafe is struggling to closet himself again and Ben is navigating his own questions about sexual identity. Packed with humor and honest questions, both books have a unique cast of friends that help both main characters understand themselves. It’s those friendships that are just as pure and lovable as Rafe and Ben’s clumsy, complicated (and sometimes non) relationship.

Meg & Linus by Hanna Nowinski

26176756.jpgQuirky best friends Meg and Linus have hit their share of bumps in the road, mainly a break-up and an unrequited crush. But they have each other. For the most part. This fun friendship book is a must-read. Are the things we do for others really in the name of friendship? Can we fly solo without the one person we’ve always depended on? How do we stay true to ourselves when everyone else wants us to be something else? You can’t help but geek out with this sweet duo.

The Weekend Bucket List by Mia Kerick

37802033Sometimes it’s hard being the “good apple.” The one that never steps out of line. Never does anything outrageous. But Cady and Cooper are in their last days of high school, unsure of their place in the world, and ready to take the plunge with a bucket list of things to accomplish. This book isn’t about romance; it’s about finding yourself amidst an evolving friendship and life choices. It’s about redemption when those roads we thought we should walk turn out to be the wrong one. Those changes aren’t easy, but Cooper and Cady’s journey (along with dropout Eli) makes for a wonderful story.

Geography Club by Brent Hartinger

94072Russel Middlebrook believes he’s the only gay kid in school. But he’s not. There’s a soccer player, the all-star baseball jock he’s crushing on, and a few more, including one of his best friends. Funny antics follow Russel everywhere, including awkward dates with a girl to help his other best friend’s romantic woes. At the heart of this book is Russel’s struggles with coming out, the hurtful choices he makes, bullies, and being himself in the face of who his friends think he is.

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Julian Winters is a former management trainer who lives in the outskirts of Atlanta, Georgia and has been crafting fiction since he was a child, creating communities around his hand-drawn “paper people.” He began writing LGBTQ character-driven stories as a teen and developed a devoted fan fiction following. When he isn’t writing or using his sense of humor to entertain his young nephews, Julian enjoys reading, experimental cooking in the kitchen, and watching the only sports he can keep up with: volleyball and soccer. Running with Lions is his first novel.

Guest Post: Author Joanne Rocklin on Love, Penelope

There are only a few exceptions to the rule that all books covered on the site have to have main characters who ID under the LGBTQIAP+ umbrella, and one of them is Mother’s Day, when queer parents—even of allocishet characters—get to take center stage.

Today, in honor of Mother’s Day, Joanne Rocklin is here to discuss her new MG, Love, Penelope, in which the main character has two moms. It’s set in 2015, against the backdrop of the marriage equality Supreme Court ruling, and it released on March 20 of this year, so you can already grab a copy via B&N, Amazon, IndieBound, or Book Depository!

Take it away, Joanne!

My middle grade novel, Love, Penelope is a story told in letters to an unborn sibling, by an eleven year old Oakland girl with two mamas. “How did you come up with that idea?” I’m asked, more often than you want to know.
So I often say that the idea began with two huge, wondrous, peaceful, joyous celebrations, days apart.

The first was on June 19, 2015, a parade for the Golden State Warriors who had just won the National Basketball Association championship for the first time in over half a century. Oakland exploded with joy and pride for “their” team.

The second celebration was on June 26, 2015, when the Supreme Court made same-sex marriage legal throughout the land, and the happiness was palpable throughout the world.

And so, along comes Penelope to tell us her story. Penelope, a fervent Warriors fan. Penelope, who loves her city and hates the fact that San Francisco, not Oakland, is called THE CITY (as in, “I went to The City on Saturday.”)  Penelope, who wants her parents to marry because her family is just as good as anyone else’s, so why not?

But often, very often, (again, more often than you want to know) I get this response from my questioner: “Well, how nice, Joanne. How really, really nice that you decided to write a story helpful to kids in that situation!”

Uh, no. That’s not what I decided to do.

First of all, it is not an author’s aim to be “helpful”. In another life, long, long ago, I was a clinical psychologist, but if I wrote a novel as a clinical psychologist it would be a didactic, boring piece of poop.

Second of all, Penelope’s voice simply swept me away, and that’s why I wrote it. She is curious, she is often humorously wrong, but mostly right, about things she observes. She is bursting with mixed-up feelings, true to her age. She tells a lie about her heritage, and is riddled with guilt. But mostly, she is joyful. She, too, is “born” into this complicated world as she figures things out in letters to the baby. It was just absolutely pure FUN for me to write her story.

But most of all, “kids in that situation” don’t need my help. Kids in that situation are doing fine, in my estimation.

Better than fine, actually.

What is “that situation”, exactly?

Here is Penny’s situation, as Penny explains to someone who says her family is “not right”. On the first Monday of every month, the family tries a new flavor of ice cream. Sundae Mondays! Her parents have some nifty, fun ideas, but when they mess up, they listen and learn and grow with their daughter, and apologize. Holidays and sports teams are celebrated noisily with family and friends, and birthdays observed with reverence. There are homemade greeting cards for every occasion and sing-a-longs, and warm stews and cups of tea offered to anyone who needs them. There is lots and lots of giving- including forgiveness.

But mostly there is a piercing awareness on everyone’s part, every second they are together, that they are lucky to have one another. An awareness that love, not DNA, makes a family, and how very, very much Penny and the baby are wanted. I have known and interviewed scores of families like Penny’s. They may not have observed Sundae Mondays, but love is always a common denominator.

So perhaps the book is helpful for anyone wanting a definition of a happy family and good parenting; a description of a family that is “just right.” Penny and her parents already know what that is. All I did was tell their story.

Happy Parents Day!

***

Joanne RocklinJoanne Rocklin is the author of many books for children, including The Five Lives of Our Cat Zook, which won the Golden Kite Award and was named to Florida’s Sunshine State Young Readers Award master list.

 

Guest Recs From Erin Ptah: Webcomics About Magical Gay Guys

Good news, folks: I finally pulled together an all-canon-mlm list of webcomic recs. Even better, it goes with the Magical Lesbians list from back in January.

Today’s theme: Webcomics about magical gay guys!

(As before, some of these characters explicitly identify as gay on-panel, and the rest are shown with exclusively male love interests. Check out other reclists for guys who are confirmed-bi, or could-go-either-way.)


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(1) What Happens in Carpediem… by Piggy Ho Ho

Welcome to Carpediem, the world of the massively popular MMORPG. When Naoto and Chris set out to find a strong attacker for their party, Kurogawa is not quite what they expected…

Fantasy RPG, ongoing (ish). The magical MMO setting is all kinds of cute and fun in general. (They hatch an 8-bit bird from a legacy version of the game! Its name is Mr. Feathersworth. That arc alone is worth the whole read.) And the game mechanics include bonuses if Naoto gets “married” to another player, including mutual HP restoration when they kiss.

So of course his hot new party companion, Kurogawa, marries him in-game for the stat bonuses, and the level-grinding and item-winning gets interspersed with immersive-vertual-reality making-out. But complications in the real world mean that Kurogawa-the-avatar isn’t quite what he seems. It’s going to take some work (and help from crossplaying BFF Chris) to sort out who Naoto’s really falling for.

Reads right-to-left, manga-style. There’s at least one NSFW scene, featuring whiteout censoring (also manga-style). On a long hiatus, but it’s come back from multiple long hiatuses in the past, so I live in hope.


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(2) Gloomverse by CrayonQueen/loverofpiggies

She was just a regular, unwanted kid, until she was lucky enough to get a job under the best magician in the world! Unfortunately for her, her new boss is a self absorbed jerk.

Fantasy comedy-drama, ongoing. The Assistant (she has a name, but hasn’t managed to say it without getting interrupted) is one of the few people in Gloomverse who hasn’t developed magic by age 17. She gets hired by Wallis Gloom — who in spite of the official summary is a sympathetic and caring guy under the surface, and it doesn’t take much at all to bring it out.

Pretty soon Assistant is deep into a mess of international politics, historical mysteries, scholarly clashes over the nature of magic itself, and possibly an honest-to-goodness Dark Lord. Also, an attack from Wallis’s previous assistant, using a giant golem made of cake. It’s the kind of comic that slides effortlessly between “edge-of-your-seat intrigue” and “ridiculous crack.”

There isnt much active romance over the course of the comic, but two of the male main characters are eventually revealed to be exes. (Full disclosure, one of them has some issues with denial that could ultimately mean he’s bi. Or it could just mean he doth protest too much.)


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(3) Tobias and Guy by Daryl Toh Liem Zhan

The misadventures of Tobias the demon and his human boyfriend.

Fantasy comedy, complete. Lonely Guy accidentally summons a hot bara demon, and they start an interspecies relationship with lots of entertaining culture clashes. They also earn the approval of Guy’s sweet elderly godmothers, who get married themselves partway through.

Sometimes it deals with death and depression. Sometimes it gets NSFW (modified with strategic angles and conveniently-placed objects). Sometimes it just deals with pet hellhound antics. The whole thing is short, so it’s a quick read.


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(4) The Young Protectors by Alex Woolfson, Adam Dekraker, and Veronica Gandini

Young heroes. Deadly villains. Guys kissing.

Superhero drama, complete. Has the typical mix of fantasy/supernatural and “this has a high-tech scientific explanation, we swear.” Closeted young hero Kyle finds himself getting hit on by a silver-fox supervillain. Is the man’s interest genuine? Or is it part of a secret evil plot? Or is it part of a secret world-saving scheme disguised as an evil plot?

There are other m/m flirtations on Kyle’s mostly-young-male superhero team, and he does actually end up in a more, uh, age-appropriate relationship in the wake of the final climactic fight sequence. (I won’t spoil you for what happens with the villian.)

Another one with conveniently-censored mature content, and there’s a more explicitly-NSFW short sequel.


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(5) Transformed! by Al Neun

Transformed! is the story of Kay, a young trans man, who finds a strange ring that changes his life forever.

Magical-boy drama, ongoing. Kay is a closeted pre-everything trans boy; he has a thing for his gay best friend, who has him firmly in the friendzone on the belief that he’s a straight girl. Then he picks up a mysterious ring that transforms him into a much-more-visibly-masculine alter ego, just in time to fling around some magic and fight off a monster…and the best friend develops a crush on that form.

So now Kay has to get the hang of his new powers and figure out where these monsters are coming from, while hopefully making some new friends in a trans-teen support group and getting to a point where he can shed one layer of his secret identities.

There’s a whole subgenre of genderbender mahou-shoujo webcomics out there, so you’d think there would be plenty to choose from where the main character is trans! But off the top of my head, this is the only one I could name.


Erin Ptah likes cats, magical girls, time travel, crossdressing, and webcomics. She’s the artist behind But I’m A Cat Person (where a magical bi guy is responsible for most of the plot) and Leif & Thorn (where Thorn has a magic sword and Leif is bound by magical compulsions). Say hi on Twitter at @ErinPtah.

The Courage of a Single Book: a Guest Post by There Goes Sunday School Author Alexander C. Eberhart

Today on the site, I’m thrilled to have a guest post from Alexander C. Eberhart, a debut novelist whose gay YA, There Goes Sunday School, releases from 7 Sisters Publishing on June 4th. This is a post about how a single book bolstered him to write the books he wanted to see in the world, and what better topic is there for a queer lit blog than one on the power of existing queer lit? (And what better day to post it than on the release date of Leah on the Offbeat, the companion novel to Simon??)

Before we get to the post, here’s the deal with There Goes Sunday School:

In sixteen-year-old Mike Hernandez’s life, only one thing is clear: Gay is NOT okay. His family’s life revolves around the church, a church run by the vocally intolerant Pastor Myers, so Mike has resolved to spend his life in the closet. His only escape—besides the occasional, anonymous gay make-out session—is his art. He pours his complicated emotions into risqué drawings he keeps in a secret sketchbook. A sketchbook he carries everywhere.

When his sketchbook goes missing in the middle of Sunday school, Mike is sure his life is over. He’s going to be outed, ostracized by their community, condemned by the pastor, maybe even homeless. What’s worse, the pastor’s son, Chris, suddenly seems hell-bent on adopting Mike and his friends and he has no idea why.

When an awkward confrontation with Chris leads to an unexpected kiss instead of a much-expected punch, Mike’s world is turned upside down. As their friendship grows and faith is questioned, Mike may be forced to choose between the comfortable life he’s always lived and a chance at the love he never thought he deserved.

Buy it: Amazon

And here’s the post!

It’s 5:00am. I look at my phone a second time just to verify I’m reading it correctly. How did it get so late? What am I doing here, half twisted in bed sheets and flipping page after page of this YA book I ordered from Amazon. I started reading thirteen hours ago, and now I’m ravenous. I devour each chapter, desperate to reach the culmination of this work of teenage angst. One question sears itself into my mind—Who the hell is Blue?!

The book I was so voraciously enjoying was none other than Becky Albertalli’s Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, more popularly known now for it’s movie adaptation, Love, Simon. If you’ve had the immense pleasure to enjoy Becky’s masterpiece, whether on the screen or off the page, then I know you’ll empathize with me when I say that this story changed how I viewed YA books. Not only that, it was everything I had been searching for in fiction since I was an awkward, Harry Potter fan-fic reading, pimple-ridden thirteen-year-old. Finally, a love story for people just like me!

While reading Simon’s tale of Oreos and secret emails, a question occurred. Why aren’t there more books like Simon on the shelves?

When the last page fell, and the early morning sun had started peeking through my curtains, this newly developed question buried itself deeper into my subconscious. You see, at this point in my life, I’d more or less hit a rock bottom. I was in between jobs, my passion for writing had shriveled over the summer as weak plots collapsed under the weight of my own insecurities. I was desperate for a sense of direction. Little did I know, my mind was only collecting these scraps of discarded stories, storing them like kindling until the spark of inspiration could ignite them into a blaze.

It was 6:00am when I grabbed my laptop and started sifting through the rush of ideas rising from the inferno my mind had become. By midmorning, I had mapped out the plot for three new projects, all centering around protagonists that I wish I could have known ten years prior.

One of those projects grew to become There Goes Sunday School, my debut novel, in which I poured everything that I needed to hear as a gay teen growing up in the south. This story became so special to me, that I almost didn’t submit it to be published, fearing it would lose its power if it were watered down. Fortunately, I was not the only person itching to tell these stories, and I found a publisher that not only supported me as an author, but whose mission is to bring diverse stories to light.

Now, I get the privilege to fill the shelves with all the stories I wished for growing up. Now, I strive to create characters that show young adults that they can be proud of who they are. Now, I’m ready to keep progressing the world of YA.

And it all started with a little red book and really late night that changed my life forever.

ALEXANDER grew up in the Metro Atlanta Area his entire
life, moving from suburb to suburb, just on the outskirts of the city. He’s always had a passion for writing, even from a young age. He still lives on the cusp of Atlanta, inching his way ever closer to finally becoming the City Dweller he’s always wanted to be.

In the meantime, he spends his days writing stories with queer characters and drinking an unfathomable amount of coffee. When he isn’t crafting quality queer fiction, you can find Alexander most likely curled up alongside his boyfriend, watching a movie or another equally lazy task.