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Review: The Big Book of Bisexual Trials and Errors

In the present political climate, a constant target for politicians when they look for support and degradation is the LGBTQ community. They rarely look to represent the actual issues affecting this demographic and rarely do they enact any laws which would support them. This brings me to the fact, that even in the 21st century, much of this community still seems taboo, to the public. There are usually a variety of questions that come with encountering someone from this community, mostly of curiosity and not out of actual understanding.

This lack of understanding is even crazier knowing that there were shows like The L Word back in 2004 and the recently renewed Transparent on Amazon, which highlights these lifestyles, and show the world the struggles they got through daily. In the recently released Thor: Ragnarok, Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie, plays a bisexual bounty hunter, which has been downplayed by most of social media. Within the comics medium, there have been a handful of characters which represents this spectrum, but rarely do they are given justice, the most prominent, being Midnighter, at DC. Elizabeth Beier’s The Big Book Of Bisexual Trials and Errors offers a thorough examination of what the term “bisexual “means through her experiences.

In the opening pages, we meet Elizabeth, as a struggling adolescent, struggling of finding who she is and eventually how the identity also shaped her sexuality. She realizes and mostly lives as a lesbian, as she finds herself mostly attracted to women, which is until she meets a man, by the name of James. At this very moment, the way she feels about her sexuality, as with all of us, is connected to her self-confidence, the way she feels about her body, realizing her own self-worth but eventually coming to some semblance of acceptance of feeling she could be loved and loving herself. By book’s end, she feels just like everyone else, a work in progress, but one that feels “confident and complete”.

Overall, a compendium full of heartbreaks, self-discoveries and truly a lesson in learning how to be building one’s self confidence. The stories by Beier are funny, sad, beautiful, and intriguing. The art by Beier could be museum paintings, as each panel seems to be given much care. Altogether, you will feel for Beier’s journey in this memoir, as the journey to “you” has never been told so eloquently.

Story: Elizabeth Beier Art: Elizabeth Beier
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

Northwest Press provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Mama Tits Saves the World #1

Mama Tits Saves the WorldOne of the most important, crowdfunded comics is here and Northwest Press made sure that the backers were not disappointed. If you haven’t heard of Charles “Zan” Christensen‘s new comic Mama Tits Saves the World then let me be the first to tell you that this needs to be in your collection! It is history in the making! Not only does Zan give the reader a fact-filled, informative and fun adventure and Terry Blas‘s artwork gives us something fun to look at. There’s also some fun and games thrown into the mix to educate the reader.

There aren’t a lot of comic books with LGBT characters and usually I applaud the ones where being LGBT isn’t the central issue of the characters. The difference between those and Mama Tits, is that the purpose of this comic book is to educate and entertain, so keeping the LGBT icons and drag queens in the forefront while they fight the oppression and hate is necessary to the story.

The story starts off with Mama Tits enjoying all the progress that the LGBT community has achieved. Unfortunately, she is struck with the reality that there are still bigots in the world and they will protest at any chance they get. Mama Tits calls upon the Queer Pantheon, comprised of great LGBT figures & icons and, uses her special power to unleash the truth. I really respected the fact that the protestors signs weren’t all made to say “I’m in the closet”. There was also an acknowledgment that some people are just hurt people who hurt others. It was refreshing to see that Zan didn’t go with a cop-out or a cliche when battling the bad guys.

In part two of the story, Mama Tits is dispatched to take down two super villains, who you might recognize even though they’re not named. These villains are covered in hypocrisy and within the story itself provides the reader with a glimpse of the ignorance that the LGBT community faces. Somehow in battling the bad guys Mama Tits never manages to feel like Zan is having his characters preach to the choir or convert the bigots. He manages to simply point out the flaws in the logic of most bigots and have the LGBT readers & allies cheer for the wrath of fabulousness that Mama Tits is going to unleash.

If the story isn’t enough to get you on board, Mama Tits even has some fun activity pages in it for the reader that wants to be a little more involved. From cover to cover, Zan lays his brightly colored history (and current events) lesson out in the open. The reader is made aware of the issues that the LGBT community faces. There is a message of perseverance and tolerance that is necessary in today’s political climate. I think that media especially comic books can go a long way in educating the public about important issues and the discrimination that racial and sexual minorities face. Mama Tits manages to not only tell a good story filled with fabulous fight sequences, dastardly villains (based on real life villains) and, beautiful costume changes but, it provides the reader with info that they might not have and calls them to action.

Story: Charles “Zan” Christensen Art: Terry Blas
Story: 9.1 Art: 8.7 Overall: 9.4 Recommendation: Buy

Northwest Press provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Northwest’s Hard to Swallow for Apple. Readers Get a Free Version.

Hard to Swallow UncensoredTwo weeks ago, Northwest Press submitted their new book Hard to Swallow to Apple’s iBooks with the goal of having a day-and-date release to coincide with the paperback edition that will be in comic book stores this month.

Apple rejected the book, just like they have Northwest Press’ past two releases aimed at adults. The reason is the comics having “prohibited explicit or objectionable content.”

The publisher has now decided to offer a censored version of the book for free, to shine a spotlight on what it sees as Apple’s ongoing campaign against sex in art.

In the days before the iPad debuted, Apple repeatedly rejected comic books and apps with gay content—some of which were very tame and included no nudity—and was accused of following a double standard when compared to heterosexual content. Apple co-founder Steve Jobs famously defended the platform’s restrictions on sexual content by saying Apple provided his customers “freedom from porn.”

Charles “Zan” Christensen, Northwest Press’ publisher and board member of the nonprofit LGBT comics advocacy organization Prism Comics, took them to task publicly for this in an online article.

in 2011, when the iBooks store was opened up to comics content from indie publishers, Northwest Press submitted its very first release, Jon Macy’s Teleny and Camille (which at that time was the most explicitly sexual book they had published). Apple accepted it, and accepted every subsequent release for about two years.

In Fall of 2013, Apple changed its submission process; they added a new “Explicit Content?” checkbox to their iTunes Producer software, which is used to submit titles to iBooks. The first book Northwest Press submitted to Apple since that change was Al-Qaeda’s Super Secret Weapon, a gay, erotic, political satire of the War on Terror. This book contained far less sexual content than Teleny, so the publisher was perplexed when the book was rejected. Despite following up and protesting the rejection, Apple’s decision stood.

This happened again when Jon Macy finished the final chapter of his fantasy epic Fearful Hunter, and Northwest Press submitted the collected edition to iBooks. Apple rejected it. Lets make that clear. Apple had already approved the first three issues. But, when those issues were collected, they were rejected.

Now that Hard to Swallow has been rejected as well, the publisher feels that Apple will continue to reject any graphic novel that includes sexual content.

Christensen emphasizes that this is not censorship, per se.

Apple is not the US government, and they can make their own decisions about what to include or not. But the waters are muddied by the fact that Apple’s devices behave a lot more like a distribution platform than a standalone bookstore, with independent publishers using iPhones and iPads as a means to distribute their work. When Apple blocks material on content grounds—blocking it from being sold in any app installed on a customer’s device, by the way—they are effectively banning the book from being sold on any of Apple’s over a billion active devices.

Hard to Swallow CensoredTo make a point about what Apple’s behavior, Northwest Press has created a special version of Hard to Swallow, which readers can download for free. They refer to it as the “apple version”, because all of the sexual content and nudity has been censored with pictures of apples.

The publisher has included an introduction to the special edition, penned by Christensen, as well as several Internet links: one is to an iBooks feedback form where the publisher urges individuals to share their feelings about content restrictions—”respectfully but firmly”—with Apple. The second is a link to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, who work to protect comic book creators from censorship and legal threats. The third is a link to Northwest Press’ entire catalog on comiXology, including the two previous books which Apple has rejected.

Mama Tits Saves the World from Northwest Press

Mama Tits Saves the WorldNorthwest Press is getting the word out that fabulous (and famous) drag queen Mama Tits is coming to comics in Mama Tits Saves the World!

Mama Tits made headlines when she confronted antigay protestors at Seattle Pride in 2014.

That fabulous activism inspired Northwest Press publisher Zan Christensen to team up with artists Terry Blas and Marissa Louise to bring Mama to comics.

The publisher has recently launched a funding drive on Indiegogo to cover the printing of the book, artists’ costs, and sending Mama herself to RuPaul’s DragCon to debut the comic! The funding drive runs through May 6th.

Northwest Press is an independent comics publisher that has been producing quality comics exploring the LGBT experience since 2010.

 

 

 

While we’re no longer picking crowd funding projects to spotlight on our site, we’re allowing project creators to make their case for their project on our platform. We remind individuals, we don’t endorse any of these projects, and that by supporting any crowd funding project, you’re taking any risks associated with doing so. – the Management

Graphic Policy’s Top Comic Picks this Week!

Thor_8_CoverWednesdays are new comic book day! Each week hundreds of comics are released, and that can be pretty daunting to go over and choose what to buy. That’s where we come in!

We’re bringing back something we haven’t done for a while, what the team thinks. Our contributors are choosing up to five books each week and why they’re choosing the books.

Find out what folks think below, and what comics you should be looking out for this Wednesday.

Brett

Top Pick: Rebels #2 (Dark Horse) – Brian Wood’s series takes us back to the beginnings of the American Revolution. Focusing on two young individuals looking to start their life, Wood not only gives us a touching action story, but also reminds us some of the principles that founded our nation.

Lantern City #1 (Archaia/BOOM! Studios) – A story about castes and a man who just wants a better life for his family.

Rise #2 (Northwest Press) – The series launched after lots of high-profile bullying stories, and while the publisher focuses on LGBT comics, the stories focus on more than just that. These are stories we can all relate to, and after reading you can realize things do get better.

Secret Wars #2 (Marvel) – The first issue threw us head first into a massive action story, taking us right into the thick of battle, and had no problems killing characters off. That only set us up to know anything is possible as Marvel relaunches its comic universe.

Space Riders #2 (Black Mask Studios) – The series’ first issue was a psychedelic space adventure. So, expect more of that… aka more awesome.

 

Edward

Top Pick: Thor #8 (Marvel) – Probably anyone who is even slightly interested in Marvel will be picking this up to find out who the new Thor is

Lady Killer #5 (Dark Horse) – This series sees its end here and we get to find out whether or not Josie is a one hit wonder.

Night Nurse #1 (Marvel) – The Daredevil television series renewed interest in this character, and this collection will give readers some background into who she is.

Silk #4 (Marvel) – There has hardly been a misstep in this Spider-associated book that gets none of the spotlight as its kin.

Wonderland #35 (Zenescope) – Zenescope’s best series continues here with another enticing story arc.

 

Elana

Top Pick: Convergence: Suicide Squad #2 (DC Comics) – Last issue had such a perfect twist by two classic lineup characters and I’m not even talking about the reveal at the end of issue 1. I can’t wait to see what happens next. This book features the REAL Amanda Waller, the most interesting anti-hero in comics and basically the only middle-aged black woman protagonist in super hero comics. When the New 52 made Waller thin & young I was indignant. Read my post “Waller Not Smaller” on why this matters.

I’m so glad to have The Wall back. I know writer Frank Tieri agrees because he told me so on Twitter.

Angela: Asgard’s Assassin #6 (Marvel) –  Sera, Angela’s more worldly and sharp-witted life partner/ bard/ “how awesome is her character design?!?” is the reason I read this book. What a revelation she is! I picked up this book for the creative team but I still stayed for this wonderful new character. And she’s a trans woman with dark skin & a non generic body type. More please. Many many more.

Fangirls Guide to Galaxy Handbook for Girl Geeks HC (Quirk Books) – This is going to be on recommended gift lists from now till the end of time. So why not buy one right away! That way you can read it before you regift it this holiday season. Buy one for all of your geek girl friends and supporters.

Storm #11 (Marvel) –  Why is this series getting cancelled? Are you guys not buying it? This book is super entertaining and it is staring Storm!!! One of my favorite long-lost characters from Generation Hope came back in last issue. I did not like his send off in that miniseries (even though it was a wonderful miniseries) so I’m hoping Kenji gets a more favorable resolution this time.

Thor #8 (Marvel) – Who is Thor? The Big reveal! Brett thought it was Roz Solomon (awesome Jewish environmental scientist of SHIELD), I thought it was Mockingbird. Now we will know for sure.  If you’ve been reading the series or any series that touches on sore at all and clearly you’ve got to be in it for this last issue. I know for a fact that there are lots of people who have only started reading store because they heard about the new female store. I just spoke to a woman was picking up comics for the first time because of the series. This must not be the end.

 

“Comics are Gay!” A Flash History of LGBTQ in Comics

Originally posted at The Mass Media. Cross-posted with their permission.

It’s no secret that Nerd culture is generally hostile to anyone non-white and non-male. Attempts to challenge the sexualization of women in games and comics, for example, have long met with vocal opposition, some violent. But not all of Nerdom and Geekery are as heteronormative as the mainstream media reports.

In fact, LGBTQ characters and themes have long held a place in the comics industry — not always securely, and certainly on the margins, but as our social and legal culture is growing to recognize LGBTQ rights, so too are comics embracing homosexual, bisexual, transgendered, and queer lives.

The-Lavender-Menace-452x700In 1954, German-born Fredric Wertham published “Seduction of the Innocents,” a direct attack on the comics industry. Werthem argued that comics of the late 1940s and early 1950s were corrupting children’s psychiatric health and causing delinquency. His book led to U.S. Senate hearings and ultimately the creation of the Comics Code Authority, a censorship board for the comics.

Homosexuality was among Wertham’s many targets. He believed, for example, that Wonder Woman comics expressed BDSM themes and that she was a lesbian. Additionally, Wertham labeled Batman and Robin’s crime-fighting partnership gay. In an era when homosexuality was considered a mental health issue, the government was particularly afraid of its presence in children’s reading material, and the Comics Code Authority banned any mention of homosexuality or gay themes.

But nerds always find a way. As the underground comix scene exploded in the late 1960s and 1970s amid the potted-up counterculture movement and racial strife of the period, LGBTQ themes found a home. By the mid-1970s gay and lesbian comix became a medium for discussing LGBTQ rights, culture, and sex in a safe space. Comix like “Gay Heart Throbs” and “Gay Comix” were a hidden means of cultural and sexual expression that gave voice to LGBTQ communities, but which still remained largely hidden from the mainstream.

The 1980s and 1990s saw a shift in the acceptability of LGBTQ comics. American culture in general opened itself to incoming Japanese influences, which heavily shaped the gaming and comic book media. Long accepted in Japan, “yaoi,” “yuri,” and “bara” manga with explicit homosexual themes were now available in the United States.

The 1990s also saw the creation of comic book publishers like Image, Dark Horse, Malibu. Unlike DC and Marvel, these new companies gave their creators more artistic freedom, challenged and ultimately abandoned the Comic Code Authority, and led an industry-wide rise in depiction of violence, gore, sexuality, and other themes deemed “immoral” by the Code. Not surprisingly, DC and Marvel followed this trend, and it became more common for gay, lesbian, transgendered, and queer readers to see familiar faces and themes in the panels of their favorite comics.

This is not to say that things have completely opened up for LGBTQ readers of mainstream comics. Controversies still abound, like the recent announcement by Dan DiDio of DC that marriage will no longer be allowed in DC’s comics — conveniently, this announcement came some three issues after the lesbian character Batwoman became engaged to her partner — or the narratively awkward announcement in “Batgirl #19” that Barbara’s roommate is transgendered (at least I felt it was awkward, not because of the addition of a transgendered character, but because it felt like an LGBTQ easter egg thrown into the middle of Barbara’s traumatic storyline).

STK613253LGBTQ characters continue to fight crime in the pages of comics while challenging heteronormativity in American culture. But superheroes aren’t the only ones with LGBTQ lives in comics: Indie, alternative, and non-superhero comics also support and feature LGBTQ casts and themes. Archie Comics, which has been around since 1939, added the openly gay Kevin Keller to their cast in 2010, and in August 2013 issue 10 of his eponymous series became the first Archie-world comic to feature a gay kiss — and was the first Archie Comics issue to ever sell out.

LGBTQ characters, themes, and creators have long held a place in the comics industry. At times marginalized to underground movements after the backlash of moral panic, gay, lesbian, transgendered, and queer characters continue to gain recognition among the major publishers, fans, and even at their own presses, like Northwest Press.

The growth of widespread availability of “gay” comics in the U.S. and internationally signals a positive cultural turn toward the recognition of LGBTQ rights, while detailing the particular struggles of queer people and communities worldwide.

Transposes Gets Lambda Literary Awards Nom!

Transposes.158f1e5Today, it was announced that Dylan Edwards‘ nonfiction graphic novel Transposes—which explores the life stories of seven transgender men who also happen to be gay, bisexual, or otherwise non-straight—has been honored with a nomination for a Lambda Literary Award in the category of Transgender Nonfiction.

Transposes is an amazing window into the lives of these men, both the major events in their lives and the day-to-day ones, and paints a wonderfully human portrait. The book features a foreword by New York Times bestselling author Alison Bechdel, who was also nominated for a Lambda for her memoir Are You My Mother? A Comic Drama.

In addition to Transposes and Are You My Mother?, Justin Hall’s No Straight Lines: Four Decades of Queer Comics was nominated for a Lambda Award. The book also features work by Edwards, as well as excerpts from Northwest Press books Teleny and Camille and A Waste of Time. The full list of nominees is available on the Lambda Literary Foundation website.

Transposes is a 128 page graphic novel published by Northwest Press and retails for $19.99. Northwest press publishes graphic novels and comics collections by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender comics creators.Northwest Press

Buy a Digital Copy of Young Bottoms In Love and Raise Funds for Queer Press Grant

Through the generosity of Northwest Press, Tim Fish and a host of LGBT creators, $5 from every copy purchased of the newly digitalized Young Bottoms in Love, now available on iTunes, will benefit Prism Comics’ Queer Press Grant (QPG).  Young Bottoms in Love, edited by Tim Fish and crew on PopImage.com, is a massive, 270 page anthology which boasts works by Tim Fish and over 40 more creators, including Howard Cruse, Paige Braddock, Brett Hopkins, Michael DiMotta and Tim Piotrowski.

The Queer Press Grant was established by Prism to assist in the publication and promotion of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) comics. Since its inception, the QPG has been awarded to Robert Kirby (2011, for Three), Tana Ford (2010, for Duck), Jon Macy (2010, for Fearful Hunter). Ed Luce (2009, for Wuvable Oaf), Eric Orner (2009 for Storybox), Pam Harrison (2008, for House of the Muses), Justin Hall (2007, for Glamazonia), Tommy Roddy (2007, for Pride High), Megan Gedris (2006, for YU+ME), and Steve MacIsaac (2005, for Shiftlifter).  The submission deadline for this year’s QPG is October 1st, 2012, with the recipient announced during San Francisco’s Alternative Press Expo (APE) taking place from October 13-14th.  Applicants can submit online now at prismcomics.org/grant.

You can purchase the comic right now on iTunes.

Young Bottoms in Love Digital Edition Benefits LGBT Comics Nonprofit

Northwest Press

Download the PDF review copy of Young Bottoms in Love now!Northwest Press has teamed up with Tim Fish to release a digital edition of Young Bottoms in Love, a collection of the popular gay romance webcomic series from PopImage.com. This 270-page anthology has work from award-winning comics professionals as well as top amateur talent, and features contributions from Howard Cruse, Paige Braddock, Tim Fish and more.

Proceeds from the sale of Young Bottoms in Love will benefit Prism Comics, the nonprofit organization that supports LGBT comics, creators and readers. Among the programs that Prism offers is the annual Queer Press Grant, for which the organization recently announced an extended application deadline of October 1st. The grant recipient will be announced at the Alternative Press Expo in San Francisco the weekend of October 13th and 14th.

Young Bottoms in Love is 270 pages, currently retails for $9.99 and is published by Northwest Press, which publishes graphic novels and comics collections by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender comics creators. The book is available through Apple’s iTunes or iBooks and is intended for reading on the iPad, though it can also be viewed on iPod touches and iPhones.

Preview of Northwest Press’ Leia Weathington’s The Legend of Bold Riley

Northwest Press

The Legend of Bold Riley hits stores this summer!

The latest book from Northwest Press is Leia Weathington’s The Legend of Bold Riley, a sword-and-sorcery epic illustrated by Leia and a host of talented artists.

“Who is Bold Riley?” you might ask. She has hunted the wildest game and dallied with countless beautiful girls, but still longs to know the world beyond the city walls. Princess Rilavashana SanParite, called Bold Riley, leaves behind her station and sets out to travel through distant lands and find forgotten ruins, fearsome enemies, inscrutable gods and tragic love. She’s as capable with a sword as she is with her wits—man, does she carve things up when the need arises—and is a strong, beautiful, confident woman who doesn’t wear a bikini into battle.

“She’s a hero. You’re a reader. You were meant for each other,” says Jane Espenson in her foreword to the book. Espenson is a fan-favorite writer for TV’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Once Upon a Time and a slew of other popular series, as well as co-creator of the webseries Husbands.

The Legend of Bold Riley is 232 pages, retails for $29.99 and is published by Northwest Press, which publishes graphic novels and comics collections by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender comics creators. The book is available to retailers direct from the publisher as well as through Diamond Comic Distributors using item #MAY121226. Northwest Press books are also available through Prerogatives/Pride Catalog, Last Gasp, and Bulldog Books (Australia).

Cover artwork by Brinson Thieme

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