Updated: Jan 25, 2020
A couple of weeks ago, I talked about female characters in comics. Now that we're in June, I thought it was a good moment to talk about LGBTQ+ representation in the comics industry as it is Pride Month! I talked in that same article about how comics are a good medium for any kind of representation and I still stand by my point. Sure, I’ve met some…. Weird specimen…. Complaining about diversity in comics, talking about useless diversity or something close to it (I’m winking at you ComicsGate). Sure, maybe there’s not enough, they are surely not always perfect or well-advertised, but don’t get me wrong: they exist and they're well worth it.
Now, today’s article was rather hard to write as I didn’t want to spoil stories or characters. I wanted to celebrate diversity in characters by talking about *insert here the names of various characters that I didn’t want to accidently spoiled*, but I’ve decided instead to talk about relationships. Because isn’t the point of Pride month? Spreading all types of love?
I’m mostly thinking about ISOLA – by BRENDEN FLETCHER and KARL KERSCHL
In ISOLA, you have different elements that will reach out to a large range of personalities. You have soldiers, war, magic and knights. A mix of adventure and Fantasy. A beautiful universe from a totally different world. But most importantly, you will find one of my favorite 2018’s love stories. The relationship between the two protagonists Queen Olwyn and Captain Rook is a subtle mix of love and respect for each other, making the story moving and…. Almost poetic? It takes a natural course through the story and contributes to the events without taking over the primary goal of their adventure.
I love how you know they're romantically involved with subtle hints here and there. I appreciate when a relationship is not thrown in my face to prove a point or when it steals the show. In Isola, Olwyn and Rook are able to elevate their story from an impromptus adventure to a Romanesque tale while putting aside the mushy and cheesy stuff. (Plus, the art is simply beautiful, you can almost see the story coming alive in front of your eyes!).
And while talking about love stories, I couldn’t possibly leave out the inevitable SUNSTONE – by Stjepan Šejić.
SUNSTONE is really different from what I’m used to reading. It was recommended to me so I could discover books from outside my comfort zone, and I’m glad I did.
An erotic novel where we follow two young women, Ally and Lisa, through their discovery of BDSM. But there is more to the story than just sexual preferences. It’s a complete heartfelt love story. I honestly love the team’s guts for creating such a beautiful and sincere relationship around such a taboo subject. Don’t get intimidated by the erotic and sexual themes, it's actually a funny and sweet romantic story.
The perfect writing contributes to the greatness of the book. The characters building is real and intimate, adorable and relatable. You don’t follow the story of two characters, you follow the story of a relationship. You have to dive into this book by putting aside all preconceived knowledge or set aside prejudices. It’s going to surprise you from beginning to end. A good read to explore the fluidity of love and sexuality.
I can not write this article without mentioning one of my all-time favorite comics. I feel like I’m always talking about this one and I’m sorry (Not. There’s a reason why it won 5 Eisner awards), but MONSTRESS is another great book for diversity. Because it takes place in a world dominated by women, it’s interesting to imagine a society where lesbian relationship are elegantly synonymous with power and alliance. Some of them are powered by love and some of them are powered by politic. In all cases they serve a unique purpose and meaning to this series. And if you keep reading, you’ll also discover some bisexual and pansexual characters. There’s a lot of self-discovery and self-acceptance in this story full of monsters and other creatures, but it never questions the relationships or the sexuality of the characters, something I find quite refreshing.
Although I said I didn’t want to spoil any characters, it would be a shame not to give a special mention to comics like THE WICKED+THE DIVINE, RAT QUEENS, PAPER GIRLS, SAGA or SNOTGIRL. If you’re looking for diversity, those comics will give you what you need…
All those titles proved me one thing: what I love most about comics is the flexibility of the medium.
We can have lots of different characters with different colors, identities… And even shapes (I love weird monsters)! No matter what some people might think, there’s no rules about how relationships should be portrayed in comics. The only thing stopping us is the influence of our own life and mind while reading it. But the beauty of comics is diving into the creator’s world and feeling surrounded by his creation.
It’s important to keep in mind that the most important relationship is the one we have with ourselves. Let’s be proud of who we are!