Tag Archives: Erin Ptah

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.

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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.

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!

***

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.

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!

*****

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!


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(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.


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(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.


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(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.

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!


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(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.)


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(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.


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(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.


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(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.


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(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.


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(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.


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(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.


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(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.)


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(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.


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(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.


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(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.


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(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.


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(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.

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

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

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

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

Today’s theme: Webcomics with major nonbinary characters!


sample-hazardsoflove

(1) The Hazards of Love by Stan Stanley

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

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

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

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


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(2) Chaos Life by A. Stiffler

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

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

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


sample-floraverse

(3) Floraverse by glip

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

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

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

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


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(4) Job Satisfaction by Jey

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

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

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

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


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(5) Drop Out by gray

A comic about two girlfriends who go on a roadtrip.

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

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

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

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

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


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

Cover + Excerpt Reveal for All Downhill From Here by Erin Ptah!

Today on the site, we’ve got a cover and excerpt reveal for All Downhill From Here by Erin Ptah! This is a short spinoff story for the webcoming Leif & Thorn, but it’s a standalone AU; no previous knowledge of the comic is required. Here are the deets:

When a diplomatic conference gets derailed by an avalanche, native groundskeeper Leif and visiting knight Thorn end up buried together in the snow. The good news: Leif knows how to survive in the wilderness, and Thorn knows enough of the language to take directions. The bad news: a concussion, divided loyalties, malfunctioning magic, and any vampires that find them are legally allowed to eat them

Or: 13K words of fantasy survival hurt/comfort m/m, with translation difficulties, tangled loyalties, and romantic tension in between the mortal peril.

And here’s the cover!

Excerpt

They talk, for a little while, about safe topics. Nothing political. Nothing that has a real chance of killing either of them over the next few days.

At some point Thorn pulls out his smartcrystal, and Leif nearly melts with delight as he coos through the photos of Thorn’s cat. Some things are culturally universal.

With both of them inside the bedroll, it’s almost cozy. “I’ll take first watch,” says Leif presently, as Thorn is starting to get sleepy. “You should put your coat on back-to-front, so it’ll be open at the back, and we can put the heatpack between us while we’re spooning.”

Thorn’s mouth curves upward. “That sounds like dishes.”

“It…is. It’s the same word. Because spoons in a drawer, they’re like this….” Leif cups his gloved hands and sits them together, one inside the other. “Don’t you say that in Ceannic?”

He looks baffled when Thorn starts laughing — the first real laugh he’s had in what feels like weeks. “No, never! But maybe now I start.”

There’s a scramble as they rearrange their bodies and their clothes, so Thorn is facing the mouth of the tunnel with Leif hugging him from behind. The back-to-front coat means he can’t put his hood up, not without choking himself or at least getting a faceful of fur, so he gets to keep Leif’s scarf. Leif, meanwhile, nuzzles bare-faced against the back of his neck.

It’s…nice, okay? It’s really nice. It’s….

Look, it’s not like Thorn doesn’t know what’s going on, here. You go through a dangerous situation with another person, either you wind up stressed enough to go at each other’s throats, or worked-up enough to go at each other’s…well. Possibly also throats. Depending on what you’re into.

Especially if your companion is resourceful, and confident, and kind, and occasionally vulnerable, and unselfconscious about wrapping his arms around you to ward off the chill. Cute, too. Not that cuteness is the most pressing issue on Thorn’s mind right now…but he has noticed Leif’s snub nose and thin lips and pale, expressive skin.

He might even have said something, if not for be careful with the Sønska servants plus working up a sweat makes you more likely to freeze to death.

Best for Thorn to just keep quiet, no matter how much he likes the innocent “spooning.” (What a great word.)

“Is it only spoons?” he asks sleepily. “Can I also say that we’re forking?”

It’s his turn to be the baffled one, as Leif kinda splutters for no reason Thorn can figure out. “N-no, sir. That already means…something else.”

Links

Release date is December 20!

Ebook-friendly formats can now be preordered on Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/763085

A fancy illustrated PDF will be available December 20 on the website: http://leifandthorn.com/short-stories/