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No Straight Lines: The Rise of Queer Comics Debuts this Weekend

No Straight Lines: The Rise of Queer Comics is a look at five LGBTQ+ comic book artists who have risen from underground comics to the international stage.

No Straight Lines: The Rise of Queer Comics adapts Justin Hall‘s anthology and shares the stories of Alison Bechdel, Jennifer Camper, Howard Cruse, Rupert Kinnard, and Mary Wings. They talk about everything from the AIDS crisis and workplace discrimination to the search for love and a good haircut. The documentary also focuses on how changing times influenced their work.

Produced and directed by Vivian Kleiman, the documentary premieres today at the Tribeca Film Festival.

For those who can’t make it or aren’t ready to enter the public, the film will be available to be streamed starting June 13 and will be available until June 23 on demand. The streaming costs $15.

The Harvey Awards Announce 7 Hall of Fame Inductees for 2019

The Harvey Awards Steering Committee is proud to announce the 2019 inductees into the Harvey Awards Hall of Fame before the annual event held at New York Comic Con. With seven recipients being honored, this group represents the largest of all Hall of Fame induction classes in the 31-year history of the Harvey Awards. It includes two of the most respected contemporary creators in their field, Mike Mignola (Hellboy) and Alison Bechdel (Fun Home), and five of Harvey Kurtzman’s core 1950s MAD collaborators, who will be posthumously inducted: Will Elder, Jack Davis, John Severin, Marie Severin, and Ben Oda.

Additionally, the Comics Industry Pioneer honor will be presented to Maggie Thompson for the work she and her late husband, Don Thompson, did as longtime editors of the Comics Buyer’s Guide.

The inductees will be recognized at the 31st annual Harvey Awards ceremony on Friday, October 4, at 8:30 p.m. at Hudson Mercantile.

Review: Graphic Reproduction: A Comics Anthology

While it is so often considered taboo and explicit, so much of the world revolves on sex and people’s deepest desires. People are obsessed with the optics of what makes someone sexy. Movies, music, television, books, and comics, all rely on it to make themselves more scintillating. Though the subject still makes us uncomfortable.

The main purpose of sex is for reproduction, while pleasure is simply a byproduct of the act. This concept is somewhat is thought in every sex education, but rarely do they get into the details of the reproductive cycle, not only childbirth, but also child loss, and how thousands of couples try to conceive every year. As the world has evolved, becoming more conscientious of how much the truth matters, the more creators have come forward to make the facts and reality more transparent. In Graphic Reproduction: A Comics Anthology, a bevy of talented writers and artists have come forward to give readers, the unadulterated truth of the reproductive process.

The graphic novel covers a lot of topics. In “Abortion Eve,” the reader follows a young lady scheduled for an abortion as she has a frank conversation about the realities of undergoing the process. In “Not Funny Ha-Ha,” the reader learns of the two types of abortion procedures and what to expect. In “Spooky Womb,” a woman on her 30th birthday realizes her relationship with her womb is tantamount to her well-being. In “Utero: A Cluster of Comics,” Paula Knight examines the many insecurities and challenges women must go through about their bodies, their sexuality, and the reproductive process. In “Present/Perfect,” Jenell Johnson takes the reader through the struggles of deciding to have a child and turmoil connected to each alternative. In “A Significant Loss: The Story Of My Miscarriage,” Endrene Shepherd gives readers an engrossing view of her journey from finding out she was pregnant to her miscarriage followed by her postpartum depression and eventual acceptance of self and situation. “Losing Thomas and Ella: A Father’s Story,” Weaver-Hightower dives into his family’s emotional journey after losing his twins after childbirth. In “Pregnant Butch: Nine Long Months Spent in Drag,” A.K Summers, the reader gets a front row seat of the struggles being a butch lesbian and being pregnant. In “Pushing Back: A Home Birth Story,” Bethany Doane tells her unique experience with home child birth and what happens after. In “Overwhelmed, Anxious and Angry: Navigating Postpartum Depression,” we follow Dr. Zucker as she talks to different patients about their fights with postpartum depression. In “Anatomy Of A New Mom,” Tyler gives a satirical infographic of the modern mother. In the last story, “Spawn Of Dyke to Watch Out For,” Alison Bechdel tells a hilarious tale of one child birth where a woman undergoes a home birth with the help of some overzealous friends.

Overall, the collection is impressive with creators whose honesty and heart shines through every story. It shows how illuminating personal truths only helps to educate the world. It opens the eyes of readers to make them understand that millions of women deal with this every day. The stories are heartfelt, relevant, and entertaining. The art is warm and engaging. Altogether, it’s both an important teaching tool and a study in empathy.

Editor: Jenell Johnson
Story: Jenell Johnson, Susan Merrill Squier, Joyce Meyer, Lyn Chevli, Paula Knight, Leah Hayes, Endrene Shepherd, Marcus B. Weaver-Hightower, A.K Summers, Bethany Doane, Jessica Zucker, Carol Tyler, Alison Bechdel

Art: Joyce Meyer, Lyn Chevli, Paula Knight, Leah Hayes, Jenell Johnson, Endrene Shepherd, Marcus B. Weaver-Hightower, A.K Summers, Bethany Doane, Ryan Alexander-Tanner, Carol Tyler, Alison Bechdel
Story: 10 Art: 8.6 Overall: 9.3 Recommendation: Buy

Graphic Reproduction, a Comics Anthology from Penn State University Press

Penn State University Press has announced the release of Graphic Reproduction. This comics anthology delves deeply into the messy and often taboo subject of human reproduction. Featuring work by luminaries such as Carol Tyler, Alison Bechdel, and Joyce FarmerGraphic Reproduction is an illustrated challenge to dominant cultural narratives about conception, pregnancy, and childbirth. The anthology is edited by Jenell Johnson with an afterword by Susan Merrill Squier.

The comics here expose the contradictions, complexities, and confluences around diverse individual experiences of the entire reproductive process, from trying to conceive to child loss and childbirth. Jenell Johnson’s introduction situates comics about reproduction within the growing field of graphic medicine and reveals how they provide a discursive forum in which concepts can be explored and presented as uncertainties rather than as part of a prescribed or expected narrative. Through comics such as Lyn Chevley’s groundbreaking “Abortion Eve,” Bethany Doane’s “Pushing Back: A Home Birth Story,” Leah Hayes’s “Not Funny Ha-Ha,” and “Losing Thomas & Ella: A Father’s Story,” by Marcus B. Weaver-Hightower, the collection explores a myriad of reproductive experiences and perspectives. The result is a provocative, multifaceted portrait of one of the most basic and complicated of all human experiences, one that can be hilarious and heartbreaking.

Featuring work by well-known comics artists as well as exciting new voices, this incisive collection is an important and timely resource for understanding how reproduction intersects with sociocultural issues. The afterword and a section of discussion exercises and questions make it a perfect teaching tool.

Around the Tubes

The weekend is almost here! What geeky things will folks be doing? Sound off in the comments below!

While you think about that, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web in our morning roundup.

Around the Tubes

Ottawa Magazine – Immigrant women’s abuse – their stories – illustrated in graphic novel – Great use of the comic medium.

Newsarama – Alison Bechdel To Be Named Vermont’s Latest Cartoonist Laureate – This is pretty cool.

The Beat – Why Hiring Ex-Vertigo Editors Makes So Much Sense – Some interesting data and reasoning.


Around the Tubes Reviews

Comic Attack – Generation Zero #8

ICv2 – Instrumental

IGN – Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Aftershock

Huffington Post – Prison Grievances

Comics Herstory: Alison Bechdel

It’s hard to get into comics without having heard of Alison Bechdel, whether it’s because of the famed Bechdel Test, a way of determining gender bias in film, or her enormously popular and literary graphic novel, Fun Home.

tumblr_m6tgerhdc91qzds8jo1_500Bechdel was first published in WomaNews, a feminist newspaper, with a single panel comic that would provide the basis for Dykes to Watch Out For (DTWOF). The comic would continue to find ground and develop regularity. The strips were originally unconnected, without regular characters or plot. After time, however, Bechdel developed a series of regular characters and a continuous plot that often featured social commentary about politics and lesbian culture. The strip ran until 2008, when Bechdel decided to focus more fully on the book that would later become Are You My Mother?. DTWOF has since been collected in twelve books, including The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For, which collects most strips. This comic remains an important narrative today, and was the origin of the Bechdel Test.

51c4ojju2byl-_sx331_bo1204203200_Fun Home, Bechdel’s first graphic novel, was published in 2006. It details her complex relationship with her father in a nonlinear fashion, using literary references to recreate young Alison’s experiences to the truest possible extent. Fun Home is an important example of graphic memoir, pushing the boundaries of traditional comics in an attempt to help the reader–and Bechdel herself–understand this relationship. The repetition of events and phrases and obsessive determination in telling the most truthful possible story also provides an interesting commentary on the responsibility of a memoir and the reliability of memoir.

Fun Home has been described as a “comic for people who say they don’t like comics” because the story is largely reliant on literary references as a lens for understanding the relationship between Bechdel and her father. Literature and psychology are seemingly two of the few ways Bechdel can relate to and understand her parents. Her recent book, Are You My Mother?, uses the psychology of Donald Winnicott to build an understanding of her relationships with women with a particular focus on her mother. As with Fun Home, it is dense and complex, but an interesting and important example of graphic memoir.

Recently, Fun Home was produced as a Broadway Musical and was nominated for twelve Tony Awards in 2015. It went on to win five. Bechdel drew a comic for New York Magazine reacting to the musical adaptation of Fun Home.

27th Annual GLAAD Media Awards Comic Nominess Announced

The GLAAD Media Awards recognize and honor media for their fair, accurate and inclusive representations of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and the issues that affect their lives. The awards cover movies, television, music, comics, and more.

This year’s nominees for “Outstanding Comic Book” include:

  • Angela: Queen of Hel by Marguerite Bennett, Kim Jacinto, Israel Silva, Stephanie Hans, and Marvel
  • Harley Quinn by Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti, Chad Hardin, John Timms, Jed Dougherty, and DC Comics
  • Lumberjanes by Noelle Stevenson, Shannon Watters, Kat Leyh, Carolyn Nowak, Brooke Allen, and BOOM! Studios
  • Midnighter by Steve Orlando, Aco, Hugh Petrus, Alec Morgan, Stephen Mooney, and DC Comics
  • The Wicked + The Divine by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Kate Brown, Tula Lotay, and Image Comics

Also comic related, Alison Bechdel‘s appearance on Late Night with Seth Meyers was nominated as “Outstanding Talk Show Episode.” Also nominated for “Outstanding Drama Series” was Arrow.

Rat Queens won for “Outstanding Comic Book” last year.

The 27th Annual GlAAD Media Awards will be held in in Los Angels on April 2 and New York on May 14.


Fun Home has a Fun Time at the 2015 Tony Awards, Walking Away with Numerous Wins

fun home coverIt was a great night for graphic novel turned musical Fun Home at the 2015 Tony Awards. The musical was the bell of the ball winning 5 times out of its 12 nominations (3 of which were in one category!). It led the night for wins that saw The King and I, and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time also come out big winners.

Fun Home the musical is based on the graphic novel by Alison Bechdel and her relationship with her father. In college Alison came out as a lesbian, and discovered her father was also gay. He died a few weeks after the revelation leaving a legacy of mystery for Bechdel to resolve.

Fun Home won for:

  • Best Musical
  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical – Michael Cerveris
  • Best Direction of a Musical – Sam Gold
  • Best Book of a Musical
  • Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre

The musical didn’t win for “Best Orchestrations,” “Best Lighting Design of a Musical,” “Best Design of a Musical,” “Best Performance of an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical” where it had three nominations, and “Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical.”

Expect the demand for tickets to skyrocket with this many wins, and I can’t wait to see it when it begins touring and comes to DC.

Fun Home Gets a Boost from Tony Nominations

fun home coverFun Home, the musical based on the graphic novel by Alison Bechdel, received a boost and had its biggest week at the Broadway box office. The musical was nominated for 12 Tony Awards, receiving the most along with An American in Paris which received the same amound

The show earned $531,985, a massive increase from the previous week, by more than $95,000.

Congrats to all, and I can’t wait to see it myself.

(via ArtsBeat)

Fun Home Ties for Most Tony Nominations

fun home coverToday the Tony Awards announced their nominees for this year, and Fun Home tied for the most nominations. The musical received 12 total. An American in Paris also received 12. The musical is based on the graphic novel by Alison Bechdel.

The full list of the nominations are for Best Musical, Best Score, Best Book, Best Director, Best Actor in a Musical (Michael Cerveris), Best Actress in a Musical (Beth Malone), three in the Best Featured Actress category ( Judy Kuhn, Sydney Lucas and Emily Skeggs,), Best Scenic Design, Best Lighting Design, and Best Orchestration.

The musical has been in development since 2009 and opened off-Broadway in 2013. It has won numerous awards since it began. It opened on Broadway with previews in March 27, 2015 and the official opening on April 19, 2015. By my count it has been nominated for numerous awards 33 times so far (not including the Tony Awards) and has won 8 times, five of which were versions of “Best Musical.”

The Tony Awards celebrate the best of Broadway, and will air June 7 on CBS.

Almost American
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