Tag Archives: LGBTQ

Netflix Pulls Production from North Carolina

Netflix

Netflix is no longer in the North Carolina business and has ended their production in the state over the the state’s anti-LGBTQ House Bill 2. The legislation remains on the books even though it was partially repealed and replaced with HB 142. Opponents feel the legislation still can be used to discriminate. HB 142 prevents municipalities to enact nondiscrimination ordinances covering any group not included in state law until 2020.

Netflix was to shoot the coming-of-age series OBX in the state. The legislation cost the town it was supposed to film in 70 jobs plus the influx of business associated with production. Instead, locations in South Carolina are being scouted as a replacement.

(via The Advocate)

Submissions are Now Open for 2019 Prism Awards & Queer Press Grant

The Prism Awards are presented annually by The Cartoon Art Museum, Prism Comics, and The Queer Comics Expo to both fiction and non-fiction comics works by queer authors.  The goals of the Awards are to recognize and celebrate diversity and excellence in the field of queer comics and to promote powerful, innovative, positive, challenging stories and representations of LGBTQAI+ characters. 

One award will be given in each of the following categories: Best Short Form Comic, Best Webcomic, Best Comic From A Small To Midsize Press, Best Comic From A Mainstream Publisher and Best Comic Anthology.  Finalists will also receive recognition. 

Eligible work must have been made or first published between January 1 and December 31, 2018 and never before submitted to these Awards.  All submissions will be reviewed by an impartial panel of judges made up of professionals in the field of comics, including authors, scholars, reviewers and librarians. 

THE SUBMISSION PERIOD FOR THE PRISM AWARDS CLOSES FEBRUARY 15, 2019 AT 11:59 PM PST.  Three Nominees in each category for the Prism Awards will be announced at the Queer Comics Expo in the San Francisco in April 2019 (dates to be announced).  Winners and Honorable Mention will be announced at Comic-Con International San Diego, Thursday, July 18 – Sunday, July 21, 2019 (date to be announced).

Additional information and guidelines for submission can be found here.

SUBMISSION ARE ALSO OPEN FOR THE 2019 PRISM COMICS QUEER PRESS GRANT.

The Grant is awarded annually to help emerging independent queer comic book creators publish and promote their comics.   Since its inception, the Queer Press Grant has fostered many important works representing excellence and diversity in LGBTQAI+ comics:

Comic books, comic strips, webcomics and graphic novel projects are all eligible. Entries are judged first and foremost by artistic merit and contributions to the LGBTQAI+ community, followed by evaluation of financial need and proposal presentation.

SUBMISSIONS FOR THE QUEER PRESS GRANT CLOSE AT 5 PM PST ON MARCH 1, 2019. Entries are judged first and foremost by artistic merit, followed by concerns such as financial need, proposal presentation, and the project’s contribution to the LGBT community. The judges also lean towards projects that are more fully realized — we want to see many pages of sequential art, rather than an idea with sketches. The Queer Press Grant is awarded to an amateur artist who hasn’t yet gotten a mainstream publisher.   They are reviewed by the Prism Board, past recipients of the Grant and Prism’s Advisory Board.  

The Recipient of the Grant will be announced at one of Prism Comics’ panels at Wondercon Anaheim– March 29 – March 31, 2019 at the Anaheim Convention Center, Anaheim, California.

Love is Love Raises an Additional $51,000 in Support of LGBTQ Community

IDW Publishing, with the support of DC Comics, has announced that Love Is Love, the impactful graphic novel anthology published as a response to Orlando’s Pulse nightclub tragedy, has raised over $51,000 for this year’s charity recipient: The Trevor Project, the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ young people.

Curated by writer Marc Andreyko, the Love Is Love anthology was published in December 2016, and by March 2017, it raised $165,000 for the OneOrlando Fund supporting Pulse victims and families. All proceeds are donated to LGBTQ charities, with a new recipient designated each year. The anthology made the 2018 donation at last night’s TrevorLIVE LA gala, which celebrates the organization’s work to save young LGBTQ lives.

Contributors to the Love Is Love project included such comic and entertainment luminaries as Brian Michael BendisMarguerite BennettMarc BernardinPaul DiniMing DoyleKieron GillenSina GracePhil JimenezJim LeeDavid MackBrad MeltzerMark MillarGrant MorrisonNyambi NyambiPatton OswaltIvan ReisGail SimoneScott SnyderCat StaggsJosé Villarrubia, and G. Willow Wilson, among many others.

Love Is Love is currently in its sixth printing, available via online booksellers and comic book specialty retailers. The anthology is also available through digital platforms.

Review: Iceman #1

Iceman is back from writer Sina Grace with new series artist Nathan Stockman and colorist Federico Blee. In the first issue of the new series, Grace and Stockman indulge in a little team-up action (and jog down memory lane for X-Men fans of the late 1980s) as Iceman and Bishop work together to prevent a new mutant massacre of the Morlocks. They have a really quirky dynamic with Bishop playing the serious focused on several possible futures, and Iceman being the one with the bad jokes and clunky Kanye references. However, Grace gives Bobby a little more self-awareness than the previous volume where he was just coming into his own as both a gay man and omega level mutant and trying to balance coming out to his parents and his first real boyfriend. In Iceman #1, he’s still developing as a person, but is a little more self-assured, which makes the book a little more fun.

Speaking of fun, Iceman #1 has some seriously action-packed setpieces courtesy of Nathan Stockman and Federico Blee beginning with a literal cold open where Bobby saves an old lady from a homophobic bad guy in Hell’s Kitchen while trying to meet a cute guy. (Oops, I have to put a dollar in the clunky dad joke jar.) One thing I love about heroes like Spider-Man is the intersection between their personal life, especially romance, and superhero action, and Grace and Stockman really get that dynamic with a gay superhero. It’s also seriously empowering to see a queer superhero kick a homophobic bad dude’s ass by completely encasing him in ice. And as a humorous cherry on top, pulling out an ice “glass” slipper on the dance floor made me laugh and cringe. Northstar really needs to give him dating lessons. This opening sequence really sets the tone for the first issue with Grace and Stockman, who seamlessly transition from fight scene to conversation without losing momentum handling everything from a main villain reveal to a text message conversation between Bobby and Kitty with style and grace.

Iceman #1 shows again why having an actual gay writer on an X-Book makes the X-Men as LGBTQ people more nuanced and powerful. In this case, there is the Morlocks. Sina Grace uses them as a metaphor for LGBTQ folks who don’t want to pass as straight or assimilate into a patriarchal, heteronormative society. That’s totally cool as Bobby begins to understand after a short conversation about why they don’t join the revolving door of the Xavier School. I also like how Grace refers to the Morlocks home as a “safe space” instead of creepy tunnels or whatever like previous writers.

However, in the context of the story, the Morlocks’ separatism and non-conformity leads to them being targeted by Mr. Sinister and the Marauders, who think they are hampering upward mutant mobility. At best, they’re the Marvel Universe version of Log Cabin Republicans, and at worse, they’re the “no fats, no femmes” guys on Grindr. To give them a little more real world relevance, Grace even makes the new look Marauders organize via the not so nice parts of the Internet like real hate groups. And Mr. Sinister is kind of a perfect villain for Bobby because he’s all about finding the perfect genetic potential, which Bobby kind of is as an ice golem creating omega level mutant.

Just like its protagonist at times, Iceman #1 is a highly confident start to Sina Grace, Nathan Stockman, and Federico Blee’s new series. It gives Bobby both a personal life as well as integrating him into the X-Men as a team, has well laid out action, and the most groan-worthy of dad jokes plus quirky banter between him and Bishop. As an added bonus, Grace writes the Morlocks with respect and empathy transforming them into badasses, who fight for their home and friends and won’t conform to society’s standards instead of empty cannon fodder like in the original “Mutant Massacre” story.

Story: Sina Grace Art: Nathan Stockman
Colors: Federico Blee Letters: Joe Sabino

Story: 8.8 Art: 8.2 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

FlameCon 2018: The Panels

To go along with an environment free of toxicity and full of heartfelt enthusiasm to go with the water stations, pronoun stickers, and the best press lounge in my five years of covering conventions, Flame Con also had nuanced panels on a variety of comics and pop culture topics with panelists, who represented a broad spectrum of voices and experiences. I attended three panels at the con: “Fan Activists Assemble!” about practical ways members of fandom can effect sociopolitical change, “Fangirl… But then Make It Fashion” an entertaining, yet wide ranging panel about the larger cultural context of character designs and costumes, and “Telling All Ages Queer Stories” about LGBTQ representation in all ages comics.

Jay Edidin and Elana Levin

Fan Activists Assemble! (Saturday)

Fan Activists Assemble” was hosted by Elana Levin of Graphic Policy Radio, who also trains digital organizes and is a new media mentor and also featured a guest appearance from journalist and podcaster Jay Edidin of Jay and Miles X-Plain the X-Men fame. Pop culture has always been intertwined with her activism beginning with her love for the X-Men comics, and her current passion is bridging those two worlds via the tool of the Internet. She also talked about how social media and the ability for protests to “trend” has helped the way they are viewed in society unlike in the past when protesters were arrested or beat up by the police, and their narrative was shaped by traditional news media.

As Stephen Duncombe said, “Scratch an activist, and you’re apt to find a fan.” At the beginning of her talk, Elana Levin stated many strengths that fans can bring to the world of activism, including community building, thinking beyond the world we exist in, and practical skills like art, writing, social media posting, and even meme and GIF making. Fans don’t have to reinvent the wheel and form their own organization and can bring their talents and fresh POV to existing organizations from larger ones like GLAAD or the ACLU to smaller, local ones.

Next, Levin brought in Jay Edidin as a case study of fan activism when he confronted Dark Horse Comics for having healthcare that excluded any coverage “…related to gender dysphoria and transition” while claiming to be an LGBTQ friendly company and featuring the Pride flag on their Twitter profile. Edidin used to be an employee of Dark Horse Comics and has been a journalist since 2007. He couldn’t go public for a while because his ex-husband worked for Dark Horse, but seeing the company’s Pride Day tweet led to him confronting the company. With the help of comic book creator, Mariah McCourt, an open letter stating a demand for expanding Dark Horse’s healthcare coverage was drafted and signed by many comics professionals. Dark Horse changed their policy a day before the letter went public.

Elana Levin showed that this action fit an effective four part organizational strategy. There was the goal, which was for Dark Horse Comics to have trans inclusive healthcare, the target was upper management because they have the power to effect change in the company, the “ask” was for comics creators to sign the open letter, and the message was for Dark Horse to basically put their money where their mouth is and support the LGBTQ community through their actions and not just through rainbow logos. Jay Edidin added that using the letter format was important because comics creators are vulnerable on their own.

Later, in the panel, Elana Levin gave examples of how social media and hashtags are able to shape discussions like the conversation around having an Asian American Iron Fist that cast a shadow over Finn Jones’ eventual casting as him in the Marvel Netflix show. Even if this didn’t end in a “win”, it started a conversation, and Marvel later did some race bent casting by having Tessa Thompson play Valkyrie in Thor Ragnarok and Zazie Beetz play Domino in Deadpool 2. Levin also laid out practical rules for hashtags, including keeping them short and simple and only using two per tweet. An example was using #WakandatheVote and #BlackPanther in a tweet about registering voters who were in line for the Black Panther film. She also reiterated the importance of having a specific goal, targeting decision makers, and having a clear ask in online activism using the Harry Potter Alliance’s efforts of having the franchise’s chocolate frogs made with fair trade chocolate and opposing North Carolina’s anti-trans HB2 “bathroom bill”.

The panel concluded with Levin engaging the audience in their own activism brainstorming session with an audience member discussing the need for more asexual representation in pop culture and comics and using FlameCon as a venue to make a case for this.  This led to a side discussion about the importance of fun in activism and helping keep people engaged in cause from free pizza and T-shirts to crafting GIFs like one of the Dora Milaje from Black Panther metaphorically confronting ICE.

Little Corvus, Yoshi Yoshitani, Aaron Reese, Terry Blas, Jen Bartel, Irene Koh

“Fangirl… But Then Make It Fashion!” (Saturday)

“Fan Activists Assemble” was immediately followed by the “Fangirl… But Then Make It Fashion” panel, which was moderated by Geeks Out’s Aaron Reese. The panelists were comic book creators Little Corvus (Deja Brew), Yoshi Yoshitani (Jem and the Holograms), Terry Blas (Dead Weight), Irene Koh (The Legend of Korra), and Jen Bartel (America). After breaking the ice with a fun discussion about favorite candies, Reese started out by asking about the difference between cultural inspiration and appropriation in character outfits. Bartel stressed the importance of “cultural and historical context” in fashion while Koh gave the positive example of the Bangladeshi character she introduced in the Legend of Korra comics as well as time periods where there was “cultural exchange” between European and Asian cultures.

A negative example given by Koh was Queen Amidala’s outfits in Star Wars, which she said were inspired by North Asian and Mongolian fashions and demeaned the original culture. Reese added that Padme had dreadlocks in a deleted scene from Revenge of the Sith, which led to the realization that most of the design and fashion choices in Star Wars are cultural appropriation beginning with the “white guys dressed like ninjas” that Terry Blas used to describe the Jedi Knights. Blas said that unlike Star Wars which exoticizes or “others” its Asian influences, Avatar: The Last Airbender respected Asian cultures even though it wasn’t created by Asians and was superhero stories for people who didn’t have superheroes that looked like them.

The discussion then turned to the popular video game Overwatch where Yoshi Yoshitani criticized the character Doomfist, whose map and character is supposedly inspired by Nigerian culture, but he is half naked, has tusks, and looks like the creators never did research on actual Nigerian fashion. She said that Hanzo and Symmetra had good designs while Irene Koh poked fun at Hanzo’s obsession with honor. Aaron Reese said that the issue with Overwatch was that the game designers focused on environments instead of character looks.

The next topic was body positivity, and Reese gave a shout out to Rose Quartz and the curviness and softness of characters in Steven Universe as well as the strength of Antiope from the Wonder Woman film and the other athletic “hunter/gatherer” Amazon women. His bad example was Psylocke, and a slide showed an example from both the comics and Olivia Munn playing her in X-Men: Apocalypse. Little Corvus made a good point that the difficulty that the panel had thinking of examples was a big problem in pop culture. Terry Blas used the example of his comic Dead Weight about a murder mystery at a fat camp where the characters are drawn as fat in different ways that reflects their character instead of just having the same body shape.

Bartel said that she had done covers for the character Faith from Valiant Comics and liked her as a representative of body positivity, but said that she wished she could redesign her costume into something that the superheroine would actually wear. In connection with this, Blas said that some male comic book artists spend hours of research getting a jet engine part right, but don’t consider fashion in their work. This led to a discussion about female superhero body types with Yoshitani saying that there was pressure on female superheroes to be perfect for everyone. Irene Koh said that she wished superhero artists took inspiration from ESPN: The Body Issue, which shows how different kinds of athletes have different body types.

Other topics discussed by the panel, included gender expression and how this was handled better in anime than in Western comics with Little Corvus making an excellent point about how Mulan could be non-binary as she explores different gender presentations in the 1998 Disney film. Another topic was color washing where Reese and Koh strongly criticized writers who described people of color like food.  The panel ended on a positive note with Reese, Blas, and Little Corvus talking about how the Runaways from the Hulu TV show and America were good representations of teenage fashion and their clothing choices made them seem like they were real people.

This panel reinforced the idea that careful attention to a character’s heritage even through something like a piece of clothing makes for a richer reading or viewing experience, and it also challenged me to look at media that I have taken for granted for instances of cultural appropriation. Star Wars was a big one.

Steve Fox, Chad Sell, Barbara Perez Marquez, Molly Ostertag, Lilah Sturges, James Tynion IV

“Telling All Ages Queer Stories” (Sunday)

The final panel I attended was on Sunday and was about all ages comics created by LGBTQ creators. The panel was moderated by Paste’s Steve Foxe and featured Chad Sell (Cardboard Kingdom), Barbara Perez Marquez (Cardboard Kingdom), Molly Ostertag (Witch Boy), Lilah Sturges (Lumberjanes: The Infernal Compass), and James Tynion IV (Justice League Dark)Foxe began by asking what kind of LGBTQ characters whether positive or negative the panelists came across when they were young adults.

Tynion said that he mainly read superhero comics growing up where there wasn’t a lot of LGBTQ representation except for homophobic jokes and said he connected to the X-Men as well as webcomics with gay characters when he was in middle school. Sell said that an issue of Superman from the early 1990s scared him into possibly not coming out when two gay men were chased out of town and then rescued by Superman. The point he got from this story is that if he came out as gay, he would be forced to run away. Sturges’ first experience with a trans character in media was The Crying Game, but she said until Lana Wachowski made her 2012 speech that trans characters were portrayed as either pathetic or deceivers. She said that she enjoyed writing Jo as a happy trans kid in Lumberjanes. Perez Marquez talked about how she didn’t grow up with LGBTQ characters, but did connect with queer coded” characters like Spinelli from Recess.

Foxe’s next question was that in writing stories about LGBT youth that the panelists drew on their own childhood or an idealized one. James Tynion said that his science fiction series The Woods about a school being transported to a different planet drew on his own experiences as an out queer high schooler while his series The Backstagers about theater kids was more idealized. Molly Ostertag said that she wasn’t out as a lesbian in high school, and her upcoming queer high school girl romance was a vision of what she wanted as a teenager. However, she didn’t want to talk down to teens or avoid the realities of homophobia. Lilah Sturges said she felt a moment of doubt writing about the happy romance between Mal and Molly in Lumberjanes, but said she was able to write it because Lumberjanes like their relationship is a true utopian vision. Barbara Perez Marquez’s work on Cardboard Kingdom was more true to her life as a young queer Dominican girl while her webcomic Order of the Belfry was pure wish fulfillment about lady knights who kiss.

The discussion shifted to queer content filtering and pushback about LGBTQ content from editors and publishers. Tynion made a good point about how companies realized there was money in queer audiences and said he got some pushback in his superhero books and relatively none in his all ages comics for BOOM! Ostertag said it was easier to “push the envelope” in regards to LGBTQ content in comics versus television where she rarely interacted with the people who pulled the strings. So, it was much easier for her to explore gender roles in Witch Boy where a boy wants to try girl magic and not boy magic and harder to have a same gender couple holding hands in the background of an animated show. Sell and Perez Marquez talked about the “sneaky” representation of Cardboard Kingdom which are stories geared to 9-12 year olds and don’t have labels, but do explore things like same sex attraction and gender nonconformity.

Then, the panel basically transformed into a pure celebration of LGBTQ YA stories. James Tynion talked about how in Backstagers that he began with subtle representation and then had two of his leads, Jory and Hunter, become boyfriends by the end of the series. Lilah Sturges said that she enjoyed writing a pre-teen trans coming of age story in Lumberjanes because it’s not sexual and is a pure statement about what does it mean to have a gender. She also revealed something adorable that will make fans of the series smile when they read her graphic novel. Chad Sell talked about how he chose writers for The Cardboard Kingdom based on their own personal experiences that they could bring to the “neighborhood” of stories.

The panel ended in Q and A where an audience member asked about how the creators as adults captured the voices of today’s young people in their comics. Barbara Perez Marquez made the excellent suggestion of having kids or teens like in a public library’s graphic novel or anime club to beta read their scripts and give notes on what they liked about the scripts.

That Blue Sky Feeling is Out August 14th from VIZ Media

VIZ Media is releasing a poignant coming-of-age series that explores a budding relationship between a pair of high school boys with That Blue Sky Feeling on August 14th.

The new series, which is written by Okura and features artwork by Coma Hashii, is rated ‘T’ for Teens and will be published in-print with an MSRP of $10.99 U.S. / $12.99 CAN. That Blue Sky Feeling also launches digitally on August 14th via viz.com and the VIZ Manga App, as well as from the Nook, Kobo, Kindle, iBooks, comiXology, and Google Play stores. Future volumes of the series will be published in 2019.

Outgoing high school student Noshiro finds himself drawn to Sanada, the school outcast, who is rumored to be gay. Rather than deter Noshiro, the rumor makes him even more determined to get close to Sanada, setting in motion a surprising tale of first love.

That Blue Sky Feeling is an honest teen drama that depicts that special kind of confusion that all kids, straight and LGBT alike, experience as they start to fall for friends and classmates in school.

SDCC 2018: The Second Annual Prism Awards Winners

Prism Comics and the Cartoon Art Museum have announced the Winners of the Second Annual Prism Awards. The Awards announcements took place at the Prism Awards panel at San Diego Comic-Con 2018 on Saturday July 21, 2018.

Prism Awards Chairperson, Maia Kobabe, moderated the panel which included Prism Awards Founders Ted Abenheim and Nina L. Taylor Kester and judges Ajuan ManceWilliam O. TylerHeidi McDonald,  Mey Rude, and Rob McMonigal.

The ceremony began by re-announcing winners from last year’s 2017 Prism Awards and honoring the judges of this year’s awards. As the 2018 nominees and winners were announced, Molly Ostertag and Zora Gilbert accepted winning their 2018 Prism Awards in person with heartfelt speeches on the importance of the awards to themselves and the community at large. Videos were presented to the audience for acceptance speeches by those 2018 winners who were unable to be present in person, including Blue Delliquanti, Noella Whitney, Weshoyot Alvitre and Daniel Heath Justice .

The Prism Awards are presented to comic works by queer authors and works that promote the growing body of diverse, powerful, innovative, positive or challenging representations of LGBTQAI+ characters in fiction or nonfiction comics.  In keeping with the creative spirit of LGBTQAI+ comics creators, the Awards themselves are hand-crafted with design by Nina L. Taylor Kester including a glass rainbow by Amy Karadbil and etched comic book base by Barry Figgins.

The panel closed with encouragement for submissions for the 2019 Prism Awards which will open next Spring 2019 and will be announced through the Prism Comics websiteThe Queer Comics Expo in partnership with the Cartoon  Art Museum which held the first Prism Awards ceremony in 2017 was also announced to return in 2019 with newsletter signups for updates.

The Winners and Nominees for the 2018 Prism Awards are:

SHORT FORM COMICS –
WINNER:
To Measure by Noella Whitney, 2017
NOMINEES:
Contact High by James F Wright and Josh Eckert, August 2017 –
Figurinha by Dante Luiz, May 2017 –
There’s More Than One! by Justin Hubbell, June 2017 –
It Was 1973, and Tiffany Banks Was Totally Winning at Gender by Ajuan Mance, 2017 –

WEBCOMICS – 
WINNER:
O Human Star by Blue Delliquanti, (excerpts from 2017)
NOMINEES:
Cans of Beans chapter 9 by Tamara Go, 2017
SuperButch Issue 1 by Becky Hawkins and Barry Deutsch, 2017
Monster Pop! by Maya Kern, (excerpt from 2017)
Superpose by Ciaran and Anka C, (excerpt from August 2017 – November 2017)

SMALL TO MIDSIZE PRESS COMICS AND GRAPHIC NOVELS
WINNER:
The Boys Who Became Hummingbirds by Daniel Heath Justice and Weshoyot Alvitre, Alternate History Comics Inc., June 2017
NOMINEES:
Steam Clean by Laura Ķeniņš, May 2017
My Favorite Thing Is Monsters by Emil Ferris, Fantagraphics, February 2017

MAIN STREAM COMICS AND GRAPHIC NOVELS – 
WINNER:
The Witch Boy by Molly Knox Ostertag, Scholastic Graphix, 2017
NOMINEES:
Iceman by Sina Grace (writer), Alessandro Vitti (artist), Kevin Wada (artist), Marvel Comics, 2017
Heavy Vinyl by Carly Usdin (Writer), Nina Vakueva (Pencils), Irene Flores (Inker), Rebecca Nalty (Colorist), Jim Campbell (Letterer), Boom Studios, 2017

ANTHOLOGIES – 
WINNER:
Dates: An Anthology of Queer Historical Fiction Volume 2 edited by Zora Gilbert and Cat Parra, August 2017 –
NOMINEES:
Power & Magic: IMMORTAL SOULS edited by Joamette Gil, 2017
Oh Joy Sex Toy, Volume 4 edited by Erika Moen and Matthew Nolan, 2017

SDCC 2018: 2018 Prism Awards Nominees Announced

Prism Comics and the Cartoon Art Museum have announced the nominees for the Second Annual Prism Awards. The winners of this year’s Prism Awards and Prism Award Honorees will be announced at the Prism Awards panel at San Diego Comic-Con on Saturday July 21, 2018 from 89pm in Room 29AB. Admission to Comic-Con International San Diego is required to attend the Prism Awards panel.

The Prism Awards are presented to comic works by queer authors and works that promote the growing body of diverse, powerful, innovative, positive or challenging representations of LGBTQAI+ characters in fiction or nonfiction comics.  The goal of the Awards is to recognize, promote and celebrate diversity and excellence in the field of queer comics, and the nominees and awards are voted on by a diverse group comics professionals, educators, librarians, journalists and writers.

The nominees for the 2018 Prism Awards are:

Short Form Comics:
To Measure by Noella Whitney, 2017
Contact High by James F Wright and Josh Eckert, August 2017 –
Figurinha by Dante Luiz, May 2017 –
There’s More Than One! by Justin Hubbell, June 2017
It Was 1973, and Tiffany Banks Was Totally Winning at Gender by Ajuan Mance, 2017

Webcomics:
Cans of Beans, chapter 9 by Tamara Go, 2017
SuperButch Issue 1 by Becky Hawkins and Barry Deutsch, 2017
Monster Pop! by Maya Kern, (excerpt from 2017)
O Human Star by Blue Delliquanti, (excerpts from 2017)
Superpose by Ciaran and Anka C, (excerpt from August 2017-November 2017)

Small To Midsize Press Comics and Graphic Novels:
Steam Clean by Laura Ķeniņš, May 2017
The Boys Who Became Hummingbirds by Daniel Heath Justice and Weshoyot Alvitre, Alternate History Comics Inc., June 2017
My Favorite Thing Is Monsters by Emil Ferris, Fantagraphics, February 2017

Main Stream Comics and Graphic Novels:
Iceman by Sina Grace (writer), Alessandro Vitti (artist), Kevin Wada (artist), Marvel Comics, 2017
Heavy Vinyl by Carly Usdin (Writer), Nina Vakueva (Pencils), Irene Flores (Inker), Rebecca Nalty (Colorist), Jim Campbell (Lettere)r, Boom Studios, 2017
The Witch Boy by Molly Knox Ostertag, Scholastic Graphix, 2017

Anthologies:
Dates: An Anthology of Queer Historical Fiction Volume 2 edited by Zora Gilbert and Cat Parra, August 2017
Power & Magic: IMMORTAL SOULS edited by Joamette Gil, 2017
Oh Joy Sex Toy, Volume 4 edited by Erika Moen and Matthew Nolan, 2017

Review: Dazzler X-Song #1

In the one-shot Dazzler X-Song #1, writer Magdalene Visaggio, artist Laura Braga, and colorist Rachelle Rosenberg deliver a powerful story about facing down hate and bigotry using the power of music (and cool light shows) just in time for Pride Month. (I seriously wish that Alison Blaire’s new band Lightbringr was playing my local Pride festival.) They use the “rivalry” between mutants and Inhumans that has been simmering in stories like Death of X, Inhumans vs. X-Men, and even in the recent Secret Warriors series as a metaphor for intersectionality in marginalized communities adding layers to the frankly, quite old mutant=minority. And, along the way, Braga and Rosenberg craft hip, energetic visuals and an explosive color palette worthy of the disco Dazzler even though she’s going by Alison these days and doesn’t really want to be a superhero or X-Man for now despite Colossus begging her to join the new look team.

Visaggio and Braga kick off the book with a beautiful establishing page: a four panel entry into the world of Alison and her bandmate Farley setting up for their show; an Inhuman Nora, who has similar powers to Dazzler, and her pal Zee getting ready for the Lightbringr gig, and a member of the Mutant Action ready to get his hate on. Dazzler X-Song #1 has plenty of stylized music video touches, especially in Rosenberg’s colors when the crowd at Alison’s show is overwhelmed by pink, but the narrative is fairly grounded in overcoming  hatred through the power of music. Alison wants the “others” of the Marvel Universe to enjoy their music and have an opportunity to be themselves for one amazing night. But, sadly, like the “no fats, no femmes”, white gay men on dating apps (and sometimes at the club), some folks just wanted to be bigoted and not share the love and enjoy the scene.

One interesting part of Dazzler #1 is Magdalene Visaggio and Laura Braga’s nuanced approach to violence. Many X-Men comics are known for their big, pitched battles to show off the various mutants’ cool powers, but Alison only fights when it’s necessary. Thanks to a sobering tip from Nora after a show, she is aware that the Mutant Action members are at her show and staves them off with a no violence tolerated policy and focusing on the music and de-escalation. In the long run, this doesn’t work, and the Mutant Action starting act worse and even bring power dampeners to gigs so they can assault Inhumans. Seeing a helpless Nora causes Alison to return into action in a a powerful splash page from Braga where you can see the Mutant Action member’s cheek wobble as she decks him Richard Spencer style with Rosenberg adding pink speed lines. Maybe, Alison isn’t ready to put on a spandex costume yet, but she has a good heart and cares about protecting people, who are discriminated against. And her fans end up giving her an assist in the big climax where their vocals amplify her light abilities, and Alison scares away Mutant Action once and for all.

What makes Dazzler #1 refreshing is that Magdalene Visaggio and Laura Braga gives readers a mutant/Inhuman perspective on the Marvel Universe in a way that doesn’t involve folks wanting to be superheroes in a similar manner to the late, great Patsy Walker AKA Hellcat. Nora doesn’t want to beat up supervillains; she wants to use her light abilities to make the dance floor an even more epic place. However, when threatened by mutant bigotry (In a great metaphor for white members of the LGBTQ community being racist towards people of color.), she confronts it directly without getting all superhero clubhouse about it, and Dazzler does the same and even makes a big speech about how mutants and Inhumans can stand together and be powerful without being a part of a superhero team. Their abilities might be fantastic, but they can find community in a way that doesn’t involve costumes, codenames, and Danger Room training.

Dazzler X-Song #1 light show visuals from Laura Braga and Rachelle Rosenberg that perfectly fit a book starring Alison Blaire and a strong message of pride and intersectionality from Magdalene Visaggio. It shows that cool mutant/Inhuman powers, social commentary, characters arc, and sassy humor can co-exist in one great comic book. Now, I need a follow up comic where Alison meets Karen O…

Story: Magdalene Visaggio Art: Laura Braga
Colors: Rachelle Rosenberg Letters: Joe Sabino
Story: 9.5 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.3 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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