Northwest Press has recently published two excellent anthologies that feature a stellar roster of cartoonists exploring issues of sexuality. Both are highly recommended as showcases of comics discourse. It can be a challenge to find the right balance when putting together any anthology, especially one collecting works in comics. You want to find a way for each work to compliment the other in a medium that quickly signals the reader. In both these cases here, you have two books worthy of exploration, one a recent entry and the other from last year.
Category Archives: Northwest Press
Review: QU33R and ANYTHING THAT LOVES, published by Northwest Press
Filed under Anthologies, Comics, Comics Reviews, Gay, LGBT, Northwest Press, Sex, Sexual Politics, Sexual Studies, Sexuality
Review: ‘Transposes’ by Dylan Edwards
Dylan Edwards has written and drawn a graphic novel, “Transposes,” published by Northwest Press, that helps us all better understand and embrace the transgender community by exploring a specific group within it, “queer-identified female to male transpeople,” or “QFTMS.” If that sounds a little too Otherly, rest assured that this collection of stories is warm and heartfelt. Through his skills as a cartoonist, Edwards brings to life six distinct true stories of transgender men.
What is apparent from the start is the enthusiasm that Edwards has for sharing with you what he’s learned and, inextricably linked to that, his faith in his skills and the comics medium, itself, to tell these stories. Edwards is not afraid to depict himself in a few pages of introduction. He makes clear this book is not going to be about him but his direct presence sets the tone: we’re going to be irreverent and have fun; and we’re also going to get to the point and be honest. The artwork will be a nice, spare, cartoony style but with a human touch. The narrative will be accessible with some inventive use of form to keep it interesting.
Once we’ve got that covered, we’re all set to delve into a variety of stories about love, sex, relationships, and journeys of self-discovery. As we learn in life, sex is fabulous, exciting, mind-blowing, but it’s only a part of one’s life. Love, compassion, and understanding will rule the day, and days, months, and years in the long-term. Each character in this collection is searching for something greater than themselves.
Even if there’s a desire to remain single and play the field, there’s still a need to reflect and contemplate. In the case of these stories of transgender, of course, the emphasis is more sharply upon the body. However, what we appreciate from this book is that issues of the body are as vital and universal as you can get. Instead of these stories being about just one particular group, they truly speak to anyone.
“Adam,” for example, is a heartbreaking love story about the struggles of one couple to come to terms with not being right for each other. It’s Marni who is quick to pick up on the problems that lie ahead: her girlfriend would much prefer to be a man but just doesn’t know it yet. Bit by bit, Marni helps Adam find his way. As they sit on the couch and have the “we need to talk” talk, it’s clear that Marni’s love for Adam is great and she’ll miss him.
“Henry” is a fine example of Edwards tweaking the traditional narrative. We are presented with Henry’s story as if it were a museum exhibit, due to his fastidious need for proper documentation. We walk through the rooms and display cases to find one person’s struggle with identity. But it’s not all struggle. In quiet safe moments, it’s just learning about one’s self. And then it’s refining what one’s learned, editing as you go, all the way through the rest of your life.
“Transposes” is a book that readers can warmly embrace. It presents specific, as well as, universal truths with art and writing that is inviting and accessible.
“Transposes” is a 115-page graphic novel, priced at $19.99. Visit Dylan Edwards here. And visit our friends at Northwest Press here.
Filed under Comics, Comics Reviews, Gay, Gender, Graphic Novel Reviews, graphic novels, LGBT, Northwest Press, Sex, Transgender
TRENDS: WIBBLY-WOBBLY SEXY-WEXY
“Wibbly-Wobbly Sexy-Wexy.” Don’t you just feel more sexy saying that? This is a new term coming out from the new comics anthology, ANYTHING THAT LOVES, published by Northwest Press. What does it mean? Where did it come from? It is a way to express yourself about your sexuality. It is a liberating way to say that you are more than just a category like “gay” or “straight.” The germ for the idea goes back to a “Doctor Who” episode where the good doctor summarizes time travel as something beyond a simple explanation, all “wibbly-wobbly.”
Northwest Press will be exhibiting at the Los Angeles Time Festival of Books this weekend, and will be in Portland for the Stumptown Comics Fest the weekend after that! Come by and visit and get a cool, new “wibbly-wobbly” button!
And check out the ANYTHING THAT LOVES campaign still going strong at Kickstarter here.
Also, help support a collection of unabashedly offbeat stories, A NIGHT AT THE SORRENTO AND OTHER STORIES at Kickstarter thru May 6. Check it out HERE!
Filed under Comics, Doctor Who, Gay, LGBT, Northwest Press, politics, pop culture, Relationships, Sex, Sexual Politics, Sexual Studies, Wibbly-Wobbly Sexy-Wexy
Interview: Charles “Zan” Christensen and Looking Beyond Gay and Straight
Gay is a powerful term, particularly in its use in a political movement. However, as Charles “Zan” Christensen points out, it is not as useful when describing the complexities of an individual. The categories of “gay” and “straight” just aren’t enough. What about everything in between? Christensen, publisher of Northwest Press, which specializes in comics with LGBT themes, is preparing to launch a new comics anthology that explores these issues of sexuality. “Anything That Loves,” brings together a roster of excellent cartoonists creating works that explore their unique observations on the sexual spectrum.
It was a pleasure to get a chance to interview Zan. He’s very passionate and articulate about what he believes in, as is evident in our conversation.
“Anything That Loves” has achieved phenomenal success as a Kickstarter project. And the party isn’t over yet. This campaign runs through April 28. It has already reached over twice its funding goal. Additional funds mean more money reaching the creators of the anthology. You can view the campaign here. Since I have launched my own Kickstarter project, which you can view here, I have come to more fully appreciate the work and dedication behind such projects.
From the Northwest Press website:
The Northwest Press anthology Anything That Loves will be released this July, just in time for Comic-Con in San Diego, and features a variety of wonderful artists exploring the seldom-seen world between “gay” and “straight”. The anthology features work from artists Erika Moen, Ellen Forney, Randall Kirby, Jason Thompson, Kate Leth, Leia Weathington, MariNaomi and lots more, and is currently the subject of a Kickstarter fundraising drive.
Visit Northwest Press here.
Filed under Anthologies, Books, Charles Zan Christensen, comic books, Comic-Con, Comics, graphic novels, LGBT, Northwest Press, Publishing, Sex, Sexual Studies
Review: THE COMPLETELY UNFABULOUS SOCIAL LIFE OF ETHAN GREEN
Eric Orner is one of the pioneers in LGBT comics. “The Completely Unfabulous Social Life of Ethan Green,” published by Northwest Press, is a great way to not only further establish him in the canon of LGBT comics, but simply to showcase the work of an excellent cartoonist.
All of us cartoonists can learn from Eric Orner. Just when you get that first wave of resistance, that’s when you push back a little harder. Orner had tales to tell, just like Howard Cruse before him and Alison Bechdel right alongside him, and they could not wait.
Orner’s comic strip ran in that fuzzy, chaotic, and bubbling time (1989-2005), before the internet and digital and then well into it. Orner grew as a person and as an artist. Collected here are some 300 of his groundbreaking comic strips. Well before Ellen DeGeneres was ready to come out, and perhaps a mainstream audience was ready to accept her, there was this comic strip. And casting the longest shadow, the less understood epidemic of AIDS, which Orner would address with both grace and thoughtful humor. Bit by bit, Orner was there to chronicle, in retrospect, a most confused and dangerous time–and it wasn’t that long ago and it’s still unfolding before us.
By 1997, the Ethan Green comic strip appeared in every large city and most mid-sized cities in the United States, as well as running in Canada and overseas. As Orner states in one of the section introductions, “Given that I wasn’t watering down the content, the fact that this very gay comic strip seemed to be building a readership among straight folks was a source of pride.”
Still, controversy could easily arise when least expected. It was also in 1997 that Baltimore’s alt-weekly, City Paper, had to fend off a church group that took great offense over a mild sex scene in the comic strip, something akin to soap opera content. Maybe they were just waiting for the very next depiction of two men making love anywhere to set them off.
Just as a comic strip unfraid to grow, Ethan Green stands out. As anyone who does a webcomic today can attest, there is an unrelenting grind that a cartoonist can succumb to. But, even in the earliest years, Orner was willing to push his artistic and literary limits. Right from the start, he aspired to reach greater heights of insight and downright zaniness. In one strip, circa 1990, he has The Hat Sisters attempt to save lives through time travel. For every vulnerable penis they find, they sheath it with a condom. Everything in the strip is in balance and it speaks volumes.
Towards the end of Ethan Green’s run, in 2005, a couple of young independent filmmakers from Hollywood adapted the comic strip into a movie. It premiered at the TriBeCa Film Festival and enjoyed a 19-city theatrical release in 2006.
Ultimately, Eric Orner’s comic strip enjoyed a great run. And now it is collected in this deluxe edition and off to begin a whole new life with old fans and new readers.
“The Completely Unfabulous Social Life of Ethan Green” is a 228-page trade paperback, black & white and in color, priced at $24.99, and available now. For more details, visit our friends at Northwest Press right here.
Filed under Alison Bechdel, Comic Strips, Comics, Eric Orner, Gay, Graphic Novel Reviews, graphic novels, Howard Cruse, LGBT, Northwest Press
Tagged as Alison Bechdel, comic strip, Comic Strips, Editorial Cartoons, Entertainment, Eric Orner, Ethan Green, Gay Studies, graphic novels, Humor, LGBT, Media, Newspapers, Northwest Press, Pop Culture, Satire, Social Commentary