Queer Alt Comix History

“When Maggie sees Hopey, I know exactly how she feels. This story I’m doing right now is Maggie trying to figure out what boundaries she has with Hopey now that they are both with different people, and she’s kind of like, ‘We used to play around, can we still play around? Are we not supposed to play around?’ … Maggie is getting frustrated, and I’m just learning all this stuff about what Maggie is thinking about their relationship while they are together.

– Jaime Hernandez, on his current Love & Rockets story

I was so happy to be able to host a panel on queer comics at San Diego Comic Con this year. When I first started going to Comic-Con, it was important to me to attend the annual Gays In Comics panel at the show. The larger queer fandom wasn’t really accessible to me at the time, either online or in person (though I had some wonderful friends I could talk comics with), and sitting in the big room full of other people ‘like me’ was exciting. I’d dreamed of being on that panel for years, until the interests of the folks running that panel and my own interests as a reader and critic diverged to the point that I stopped attending… which meant that hosting a smaller queer comix panel with four comics authors whom I respect immensely–Mariko Tamaki, Gilbert Hernandez, Jamie Hernandez, and Ed Luce–was pretty much that dream come true. Thanks to Julia from D&Q for thinking of me to moderate.

The wonderful Brigid Alverson has a thorough write-up of the panel over at ComicBookResources. I thought it went really well, and I was happy to see that on reading Brigid’s article my memory lived up to the actuality of it! There’s some great commentary there on the importance of queer comix, but also, queer comix as they exist within the continuum of ‘alternative’ comics. Alternative comics and the scene around them have a really checkered history when it comes to queer representation. I got into it a little at the beginning of the panel, but basically while the undergrounds and early alt comix were certainly transgressive, queer narratives tended to be pushed to the side. nostraightlinesThe excellent anthology and history book No Straight Lines, edited by Justin Hall, does a great job at drawing connections between important works and putting together an overview of the queer alt-comix scene in the 70s, 80s, and 90s for contemporary readers. I recommended it on panel, and I’ll recommend it again here. But yeah, it was awesome to have Jaime and Gilbert on the panel  just come right out and say “No one was doing this,” when talking about their roles as straight creators of queer characters in the alt comix scene. They added a lot of continuity to the discussion! Having two out-and-proud creators on panel was also wonderful, particularly as Ed and Mariko have entered the field relatively recently and later in their lives, and they brought some amazing insight to the panel. It was amazing, and I could’ve talked to all four of them for another hour at least.

So yeah, please go check out the article! And the work of all four wonderful creators!

My thanks to Brigid Alverson for transcribing so much of the panel and writing it up, and sharing it with the readership of CBR.

– Christopher

P.S.: I originally posted a draft of this, and then finished it about an hour later. It may still be the old version in the RSS feed, sorry about that!

The nuts and bolts of Gay and BL manga

“When I look at gay art in comics as a critic, I get really anxious about that division precisely because the simplistic way of dividing it is that BL represents more romance, narratives, thinner body types, more effeminate characters. And then so-called gay manga would be just more diesel, big guys and more hardcore sex, etc.

“But what happens when the creator is a woman doing more hardcore work? Is that considered gay? Is it BL just because she’s female? Is it about the audience, or is it about the creators?”

– Gengoroh Tagame

My Brother's Husband, by Gengoroh Tagame.
My Brother’s Husband, by Gengoroh Tagame.

I’m so thrilled to see that the transcript from the TCAF panel on Gay Manga and BL manga has been posted at Deb Aoki’s MangaComicsManga. Thanks to Deb for hosting it, to Shaindle Minuk for the transcription, and Deb and Graham for the edits.

The actual panel title was “Gay Comics Art Japan”, and it talks about not just gay manga, not just BL, but gay identity as it’s expressed through art, and the identities of its creators. It is exactly what I hoped it would be when I helped put it together, and Graham Kolbeins (Massive), Leyla Aker (VIZ/SuBLime), Gengoroh Tagame, and especially host, translator, and panelist Anne Ishii, all did an incredible job. I’m so proud of them and grateful to them.

This is a wonderful look at many of the facets of homosexual desire as expressed through Japanese manga, and I hope you’ll take the time to read it.

– Christopher

Where’s Chris: Comic-Con Edition!

In case you forgot what I looked like.
In case you forgot what I looked like.

Hello! I am happy to say that I will once again be attending Comic-Con International: San Diego this year. I’ll mostly be stationed at the Drawn & Quarterly Booth, #1629, as the good folks there have given my erstwhile employer The Beguiling a small corner from which to sell a gorgeous array of original comics artwork. I’ll be helping Peter out there on and off through all five days of the show. If you want to say hello that’s not a bad place to look for me. You can also tweet me @comics212 to see what’s up.

I’m also happy to say that I have a very full panel and programming schedule this year, as I’ll be participating in or moderating 5 different programs at the big show. Every panel is very different from the other too, which is great. It’ll be a busy show. Here’s a quick run-down:

Friday, July 10th

Hopey, Julio, Skim, Oafs, and beyond,
Friday, 7/10/15, 1:00p.m. – 2:00p.m., Room: 28DE 

Emerging from the undergrounds and into the alt-comix of the 1980s, queer characters and voices have always been loud and proud in alternative and indie comics. Gilbert Hernandez and Jaime Hernandez were at the forefront of queer characters’ visibility with their groundbreaking and award-winning comic book series LOVE AND ROCKETS, featuring brilliant characters like Hopey, Maggie, Israel, and Julio. Contemporary authors Mariko Tamaki and Ed Luce have contributed new queer icons in their books SKIM and WUVABLE OAF. Join all four creators and moderator Christopher Butcher (Comics212.net, Toronto Comic Arts Festival) for a discussion of the history of queer character visibility in alt and indie comics.

How to Survive Conventions as an Indie Creator
Friday, 7/10/15, 8:30p.m. – 9:30p.m. Room: 8

Calling all artists, small presses, and makers: Are you interested in or currently touring comics and pop culture conventions? Christopher Butcher (Toronto Comic Arts Festival) moderates a panel of experienced exhibitors Daniel Davis (Steam Crow, Booth Bastards), Shing Yin Khor (Sawdust Press), Paul Roman Martinez (The 19XX), and Geoffrey Golden and Amanda Meadows (The Devastator) to discuss making a full convention calendar work alongside a heavy production calendar. They’ll also answer questions raised by the Comics Beat + The Devastator 2014 Convention Survey –– what should creators expect from conventions and how can we make the most of them?

Saturday, July 11th

Kids Comics Summit
Saturday, 7/11/15, 11:00am – 12:00pm. San Diego Central Public Library – Shelley Special Events Suite

What’s the state of the children’s comics industry?  Publishers talk about their publishing programs; discussing how kids comics have changed in the past decade and how they’ll change more in the decade to come. A conversation with Alex Segura (Archie Comics), Filip Sablik (Boom), Kuo-Yu Liang (Diamond), Gina Gagliano (First Second), Sven Larsen (Papercutz), and David Saylor (Scholastic). Moderated by Christopher Butcher (Toronto Comics Art Festival).

Best and Worst Manga of 2015
Saturday, 7/11/15, 7:00p.m. – 8:00p.m., Room: 23ABC

I don’t have the official description for this one, but myself, Brigid Alverson,  David Brothers, Eva Volin, and moderator Deb Aoki are once again participating in an hour of chaotic fun, as we run down our choices for some of the best and worst manga of the year. It’s gonna be fun, and it’s always a packed house!

Sunday, July 12th

Nickelodeon Returns to Comics!
Sunday, 7/12/15, 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. Room 8

Eric Esquivel (writer, Sanjay & Craig), Sam Spina (artist, Sanjay & Craig) and Jim Salicrup (editor-in-chief of Papercutz) plus special guests give you an inside look at how Nickelodeon’s hit properties Sanjay & Craig, Breadwinners and Harvey Beaks are being turned into Papercutz Graphic Novels. Featuring the editors, writers and artists who make comics out of these awesome shows! Moderated by Christopher Butcher (The Beguiling, Toronto Comic Arts Festival).

And that’s it for now… I think. I’m always terrified that I’ve agreed to be on a panel and then forgotten about it completely. Heh. Anyway, I really am looking forward to Comic-Con again this year, as even the years where I have a miserable time are also years where amazing things happen. It’s a neat show that way.


– Christopher

5 Japanese Comics That Came Out In 2014 That Could’ve Been On A Best Of List Or Two

I’ve been taking a look at some of the “Best Comics of 2014” lists that are filtering out, and I’ve been a little disappointed at their general lack of ambition, but at the specific lack of comics originating in Japan (i.e.: manga’) on those lists. I haven’t read very many comics at all this year, sadly, but below are 5 Japanese comics that I have read, and have been surprised not to see featured anywhere. I’m sure as I catch up on my reading over the next few weeks, it will not be difficult to find more. For now though, if you’re one of the folks who’s wondering what’s good in manga in 2014, keep reading.

sunny vol 3

Sunny, by Taiyo Matsumoto. Published by VIZ Media.
Volumes 3 & 4, released 2014.

My pick for ‘best comic of the year’ in 2013, Sunny continued to be excellent, heartbreaking, and beautifully illustrated in 2014.  Two further volumes of the series, set in a Japanese orphanage and featuring an outstanding group of young people in very difficult circumstances, arrived this year. Matsumoto is an outstanding cartoonist whose work has matured dramatically since Tekkon Kinkreet, and Sunny is largely regarded as one of the most beautiful manga in Japan. It is definitely one of the most beautiful comics being published in English today (in addition to being a truly moving read).


In Clothes Called Fat, by Moyoco Anno. Published by Vertical.
Single-volume manga, published 2014.

When it was originally released in Japan, this book caused something of a sensation. When released in French, it was an official selection at the Angouleme BD Festival, in consideration for best comic of the year, and caused no less of a sensation there. Now available in English, this book is raw, and grim, and still revelatory. It joins the very few manga titles explicitly for adult women (“Josei manga”) that have been published in English, and like the work of Kyoko Okazaki (Pink, Helter Skelter) it is absolutely worth your time.


Monster (New Edition), by Naoki Urasawa. Published by VIZ Media.
Volumes 1-3 released in 2014.

Monster was a touch ahead of its time upon its initial English-language release in 2006. This twisting, turning, world-spanning mystery story found a dedicated following, but was largely unknown by the larger readership of comics. Luckily Urasawa’s subsequent series Pluto and 20th Century Boys found a larger audience, and those titles, plus the announcement that Guillermo Del Toro had optioned Monster as a television series for HBO, sent new fans clamouring for very-expensive, very-out-of-print volumes. Well, the series is finally coming back into print, in larger, double-volumes, including colour pages. Don’t sleep on this series a second time.


What Did You Eat Yesterday, by Fumi Yoshinaga. Published by Vertical.
3 volumes released in 2014.

Surprisingly powerful and honest, this is an entirely unique series in the world of English-language publishing. A young gay couple, seemingly mismatched, spends their lives together, and occasionally cooks together. This series blends incidents from their life, with illustrated recipes, and it is entirely charming and, over time, endearing. I look forward to every volume.


MASSIVE: Gay Erotic Manga and the Men Who Make It, by Various. Published by Fantagraphics. 1 volume.

Look, we’re all grown-ups here, so hopefully a book full of erotic comics on a best-of list won’t upset you too much. As good as the erotic content is (and: it’s pretty good), what really puts it over the top for me is the more than 70 pages of supplementary material–creator interviews, introductions, and a history of this material. This is a great archive of lost comics history, expertly researched and beautifully presented. Like the book on Gengoroh Tagame that preceeded it, this is nearly unique in North America, and worth a spot on your bookshelf.

Alright, there’s 5 that I’ve read and loved. More to come, I’m sure.

– Chris @ The Beguiling

Recommended: 7 Miles A Second (7 Page Preview)

I just got a very welcome e-mail from Fantagraphics, with information about their new, upcoming edition of 7 Miles A Second. This book was revelatory to me as a young man, exposing Wojnarowicz’s struggles as a young man himself, though as a hustler on the streets of New York, and later, as an artist and his unfortunate stuggle with AIDS/HIV. James Romberger and Marguerite Van Cook do a phenomenal job at bringing his story to life, and this is a vital and important piece of gay history that had been denied to me as a gay teen, and which has been out of print for far too long.

I’m happy to share a 7 page preview with you, and I hope you’ll consider picking up a copy when it is released in February.

– Chris

7 Miles a Second
by David Wojnarowicz, James Romberger and Marguerite Van Cook

68-page full-color 9″ x 12″ hardcover • $19.99
ISBN: 978-1-60699-614-0
In-Store Date: February 3, 2013 (subject to change)

7 Miles a Second is the story of legendary artist David Wojnarowicz, written during the last years before his AIDS-related death in 1992. Artists James Romberger and Marguerite Van Cook unsentimentally depict Wojnarowicz’s childhood of hustling on the streets of Manhattan, through his adulthood living with AIDS, and his anger at the indifference of government and health agencies. A primal scream of a graphic novel, 7 Miles a Second blends the stark reality of Lower East Side street life with a psychedelic delirium that artfully conveys Wojnarowicz’s sense of rage, urgency, mortality and a refusal to be silent.

Originally published as a comic book in 1996 by DC’s Vertigo Comics, 7 Miles a Second was an instant critical success and has become a cult classic amongst fans of literary and art comics, just as Wojnarowicz’s influence and reputation have widened in the larger art world. This new edition finally presents the artwork as it was intended: oversized, and with Van Cook’s elegant watercolors restored. It also includes several new pages created for this edition.

“Revolutionary…. a runaway, over-the-top circus… An excursion into areas few, if any, comics creators have tread.” – Jim Steranko

“Seven Miles a Second veers between an almost unbearably gritty naturalism and the incendiary heat of surrealist hallucination.” – The New Yorker

“A revelatory work of art.” – Art in America

“A cult classic… both a celebration of the unlimited potential of the comic book form, and a perfect melding of inspiring, iconoclastic imaginations.” – Jim Jarmusch

ABOUT THE CREATORS: David Wojnarowicz (1954-1992) was an artist, writer, filmmaker and activist prominent in the New York City art world of the 1980s. James Romberger is a fine artist and cartoonist living in New York City. Marguerite Van Cook is an artist and musician living in New York City with her husband, James Romberger.


Consider applying for or donating to the Queer Press Grant

Hey folks!

I got a note from Justin Hall, Editor of the excellent new queer comics compendium No Straight Lines, letting me know that the application deadline for Prism Comics’ Queer Press Grant is coming up fast–October 1st!

With the recent cessation of Peter Laird’s excellent Xeric grant, the Queer Press Grant has become the last indy publishing grant, and one that I feel is entirely necessary and has supported some excellent projects. If you’re eligible for the grant (see the complete PR below) apply now at http://prismcomics.org/grant.

Indy publishing is pretty easy to marginalize to start with, and in my experience queer voices trying to compete in the larger marketplace tend to have an especially tough go of it. Authors talking about gay/lesbian/bi/trans/queer experiences tend to only find audiences within those communities, with a few notable exceptions (I’m thrilled for Alison Bechdel’s success as a queer graphic novelist and memoirist, but it’s not like she has a lot of contemporaries). Again, my experience has been that even well-meaning readers tend to assume a queer experience isn’t a universal one until proven otherwise… and nothing could be further from truth. This grant has helped to fund some great projects, and bring some important voices to the fore.

If you’ve got it in you to support great queer creators and projects and help grow the QPG, Prism Comics accepts donations year-round at http://prismcomics.org/donate.php.

Full press release for the QPG follows:

Prism Comics’ Queer Press Grant 2012: Application Deadline is Oct. 1st!

Both Applications and Donations for the Grant Are Being Accepted Now

There’s only one month left to apply for this year’s Prism Comics Queer Press Grant (QPG)! The QPG, the only grant today specifically awarded to independent comic book creators, was established by Prism to assist in the publication and promotion of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) comics. The submission deadline for the 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.

The Queer Press Grant is awarded to a comics writer/artist or team working on a project with significant LGBT characters and themes, to assist them in publishing a new project or expanding an existing one. Comic books, comic strips, webcomics, and graphic novel projects are all eligible. 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. Creators do not need to be LGBT themselves to apply for the QPG. Submissions are reviewed by the Prism Board and past recipients of the Grant, with the larger advisory board brought in when tiebreakers are needed. Grant guidelines can be found at prismcomics.org/grant. Questions about the grant can be directed to Justin Hall at justin@prismcomics.org.

The Queer Press Grant is funded entirely by donations, generally from comic book professionals and readers plus fundraising efforts from Prism members. To donate to the Queer Press Grant, go to prismcomics.org/donate. From these contributions, the standard amount of the Grant in the past few years has been $2,000.

Since its inception, the Queer Press Grant 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, forYU+ME), and Steve MacIsaac (2005, for Shiftlifter).


Website Links:
Prism Comics: http://prismcomics.org 
Prism Comics Queer Press Grant: http://prismcomics.org/grant
Prism Comics Donation Page: http://prismcomics.org/donate

GAY: There’s a list on the internet for you to disagree with!

Despite a rather packed schedule I took some time over the last two weeks to participate in Andrew Wheeler’s survey of characters who are inspiring to the queer community, which is now online over at Comics Alliance. Go read it! I’m quoted directly saying a few words about Kevin Keller, Diesel Sweeties, and Maurice Vellekoop.

Andrew’s been a bit upset about the reaction in the comments because the first responders to the article weren’t terribly kind to it. Apparently, despite the fact that two-dozen queer comics creators and other people in and around the comics industry picked their favourites and Andrew spent probably 5 or 6 hours sorting it, tallying it, and then writing up each selection (with a few lines from the rest of us thrown in for good measure), this list is invalidated by its absences and invalidated by its choices. Ah, and its headline, since clarified.

Frankly, I expect a lot better out of the comments section on Comics Alliance!

I don’t particularly like numbered lists and was skeptical about participating because of that–I had a head time ranking the importance of Apollo and the Midnighter against Fun Home, for example–but I was able to get over myself by asking myself the following question; “So what the fuck are you going to do about it?”

The answer of course is nothing, because who’d be mental enough to spend two weeks e-mailing 30 people, sorting and tallying their responses, and then writing up an article about it? Particularly for a bunch of QUEER characters and stories, the kind that get ever-so-much attention from the rest of the comics industry? Nothing and no one, but my friend Andrew Wheeler, so of course I helped out in whatever way I could.

So, Andrew, thanks for celebrating queer characters & stories on one of the best read comics websites with the biggest bunch of assholes in the comments sections, particularly because I don’t recall any other comics website doing anything for pride week this week (and of course, perhaps I missed it… feel free to correct me in the comments). While pointing out that the sad state of commenters is not simply confined to your article may not make you feel 100% better, I do hope that you’ll take a measure of solace from the fact that CBR wrote an article about gay couples throughout comics history last week and the same sorts of people showed up in the comments to bitch that there wasn’t enough on the moutherfuckin’ Legion.

Seriously, no one cares about the Legion. It’s fucking boring.

– Christopher

Little Heart Kickstarter Reaches Goal! Still time to get cool stuff.

This afternoon, the Kickstarter for Little Heart, the marriage equality-supporting comics anthology that I’m participating in hit its goal of $8500, and so it looks like the book is definitely going to be a reality. I’d like to offer a hearty congratulations to editor Raighne Hogan and all of the contributors on a successful campaign. I’d also like to thank all of you who read my words, shared them, and purchased a copy of the book: Your support is amazing, and I thank you. I don’t really ‘go to the well’ very often from my readers, but I greatly appreciate that you were there when a good project needed you. Thanks.

There’s still time to pre-order a copy, or get some amazing prints or original art–you’ve got until Friday in fact! Head over to http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/765505753/little-heart-a-comic-anthology-for-marriage-equali?ref=live for details.

Meanwhile, I was just informed about another queer comics Kickstarter, though this one met its fundraising goal in just 48 hours! It’s for Alex Woolfson’s gay sci-fi series “Artifice”, and it looks like there will now be a graphic novel collection of that web series. I’ve attached the full PR under the cut below, but you can check out the Kickstarter at http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/alexwoolfson/artifice-graphic-novel-print-drive.

While miles and miles has been written on Kickstarter and the like, I will throw in exactly 2 cents worth and say that that it’s pretty clear having a strong, dedicated following and a very public personality at the helm of your Kickstarter campaign yields very different results than not. I think the Little Heart book is an incredibly important project, but it “suffered” by not having a 25,000-readers-per-day lead-in (if one can suffer that), and it really did take the full month of non-stop promotion to get the word out about the project. I hope that other indy projects looking to use the service take note. A multi-creator book that supports marriage equality should, theoretically, have a much broader appeal for support than a dual-creator gay sci-fi graphic novel, but the web as a mass-funding medium is pretty darned unique.

(This also ties into my thoughts on why Kickstarter as a replacement for the NEA or governmental arts funding is abhorrent, but my two cents are up… for now.)

– Chris

Continue reading “Little Heart Kickstarter Reaches Goal! Still time to get cool stuff.”

My Introduction to Little Heart (1st Draft)

I feel like I’ve been far too lax in getting the word out about Little Heart, a forthcoming comics anthology full of great comics work, that’s also supporting a great cause. Below, you’ll find the first draft of my introduction to this book (sure to be edited because it runs 1200+ words!) and I hope that in talking about my life and the work in this book, I can convince you to take a chance and buy one today. Full details about this book and purchasing info at http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/765505753/little-heart-a-comic-anthology-for-marriage-equali. And, not to rush you, but you need to do so by next Friday March 16th at the latest. – Chris


I married my husband Andrew in 2006, shortly after the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the gay marriages that had been performed by our provinces since 2001 (give or take) were in fact informed by Canadian values, not merely provincial ones. Despite a challenge or three from the Conservatives, the law… and my marriage… has remained on the books to this day.

Growing up as a gay kid, and then a gay teenager, and finally a gay adult, the notion that I could ever get married was simply not something that occurred to me. Perhaps it was just a failure of imagination on my part, but from what I knew and had experienced of gay culture, gay people could have just as loving, committed, and important relationships as heterosexual people could… but ‘marriage’ was just something that wasn’t for us. I can’t tell you how happy I was to be wrong about that, and I am forever in the debt of the brave gay and lesbian couples that fought the battles, and won them, that allow me to have rights that I quite frankly should’ve been born with. That gay kids today, and the gay teens and adults of tomorrow, will hopefully never have been without.

I met my husband in 2004, and I’ve spent the better part of our 8 years together indoctrinating him into the world of comics and graphic novels. I’m a comics guy; I’ve read written, drawn, lettered, published, talked about, and sold comics since I was 8 years old, and indoctrinating new readers is just what we do. Andrew didn’t really have comics growing up—I think he’d only ever read Spiegelman’s Maus for school when he met me. He’s an opera, symphony, perfect diction kinda fellow, and so when sharing my first comic with him I went the intellectual route and chose McCloud’s “comics textbook” Understanding Comics. Frankly I was/am so in love with Andrew he probably could’ve hated it and we’d still be together, but he loved it and we talked about it at length, and he was curious for more. Now I can’t say for certain, but I’m pretty sure the very next comic I gave him was Maurice Vellekoop’s sadly out-of-print classic Vellevision, a repository of accumulated gay culture, gay wisdom, and gay folly. It’s was also quite the unique work at the time as, save for perhaps Howard Cruise’s excellent Stuck Rubber Baby, it was the only ‘gay graphic novel’ I was aware of that wasn’t intended solely as pornography (though, make no mistake, Vellevision’s got some pretty great scenes in it that address those particular interests…!). He loved that too, and when Vellekoop’s “A Nut At The Opera” came out it was the best of both worlds for both of us!

In 2011, it was very heavily rumoured (and somewhat supported) that if the Conservatives in Canada were elected with a majority government they’d reopen ‘the marriage debate’ and that future marriages between same-sex couples, and even already-conducted marriages between same-sex couples, could be stopped or annulled. I know, it seems crazy that something that’s been happening for 10 years (give or take) could, with a change in government, be stopped or rescinded, but looking at the rhetoric coming out of the Republican party right now, where they’re seeking to roll back women’s rights 50 or 60 years, well, it still doesn’t seem so far-fetched does it? I made a fairly impassioned plea to vote against the Conservative party because I didn’t want the nature of my relationship attacked or invalidated by a bunch of government thugs… and this is where Raighne Hogan, editor of this book, noticed what I was saying and decided I might be a good person to say a few words on its behalf.

And here we are.

Little Heart: A Comic Anthology for Marriage Equality is a fascinating document of a time and a place, of comics creators coming of varied sexualities and genders and backgrounds coming together to comment on the nature of marriage and the nature of love. Of course Maurice Vellekoop is here, and his journalistic piece on the realities of gay marriage in Canada 5-10 years later is just as melancholic and just as ironic and just as delightful as his work has ever been. Marinaomi’s wonderful piece about the trials and tribulations of getting married in a ‘non-traditional way’ certainly hit home, as did Noah Van Sciver’s thoughtful piece of comics journalism about miscegenation—last century’s marital ‘boogeyman.’

Probably the pieces in this book that ring truest to my experience are the ones by Jeremy Sorese, and Emily Carrol and Kate Craig. Sorese’s “Love Me Forever! Oh! Oh! Oh!” resonates deeply with me, because the incredibly talented Mr. Sorese, at 23, has all the same questions about life and relationships and especially gay marriage (“Who is walked down the aisle? Who wears white?”) that I did at 29 on my wedding day. My only advice to Mr. Sorese, 10 years my junior, might be that I found my answers to those questions by doing them, and if that’s what he wants I hope he gets the opportunity. Likewise for the talented Carrol and Craig, mine and my husband’s wedding rings are vintage (or perhaps ‘second hand’ if you’re feeling uncharitable), and I couldn’t help but wonder at the lives lived by the bearers of those rings before we wore them. Carrol and Craig in their ring neatly encapsulate the hopes of marriage, of commitment and anticipation, that I feel unite anyone who enters into the practice, while still making allowances for the unique relationships and agreements that define every union.

Even the pieces that don’t directly address marriage, but instead talk about queerness obscured, like “Roosterlegs” by Ed Choy and Sam Sharpe, or mediate on the complicated nature of young love, like Joseph Remnant’s “I Told You So,” speak to human experiences that touch all of us. Moreover every contributor to this book answered the call, “Help us support marriage equality in Minnesota,” by doing what they do best; creating comics—regardless of style, theme, or materials used. They’ve come down on the side of supporting the rights of all people to equality under the law and by picking up this book and supporting this fight you have too.

I was taught from an early age that equality needed to be fought for. I learned last year that what should be inexorable rights are not always so, and we must fight on. I learned from Jeremy Sorese that rights are worth fighting for even when they might not speak to us directly, from Marinaomi that celebrating what we have does not come at the expense of fighting on the behalf of others, from Noah Van Sciver and Emily Carrol and Kate Craig that love—and marriage—have always faced questions and obstacles, and from Maurice Vellekoop that even when marriage turns out not to be what you think it would, that the core concept of equality is still incredibly important. Finally, I learned from Raighne Hogan, 2d Comics, and the dozens of contributors to this fine volume that this is a battle that may need to be fought state by state, and even heart by heart, but that people regardless of background can come together and lend their voice. I’m happy to be lending mine and, by purchasing this book, thank you for lending yours.

–          Christopher Butcher, March, 2012.


Please Read: “Little Heart” Kickstarter Needs You

Hey folks. I was invited to write an introduction for a very special comics anthology, called Little Heart: A Comic For Marriage Equality. It’s going to be 160+ pages of comics from a wealth of talented individuals, lending their talents in support of marriage equality. This anthology is trying to be funded by Kickstarter, and there’s only about a week left.


I’ll be honest, it’s not near its fundraising goal but with just a little help it absolutely could be. This book features new comics by Maurice Vellekoop, Emily Carrol, Zak Sally, MariNaomi, Joseph Remnany, Jeremy Sorese, Noah Van Sciver, Michael DeForge, and over a dozen more amazing contributors. Also, I’m writing the introduction!

For $20 you can get a copy of the book, and all you need is to start a Kickstarter account (free, takes 2 minutes) and an Amazon account (everyone has one of these, right?). But the rewards for this comic are insane if you want to donate more! For $100 you could get the book and original drawings by Dustin Harbin or Noah Van Sciver! For $250 you could get a copy of the book and a “date with the artist” of one of the stories! For $400 you could get a copy of the book and an original comics page by Maurice Vellekoop (and as his art dealer I can tell you that’s a great deal!).

In short, this is a great cause, there are some truly excellent comics in this anthology, and I hope you will head over and sign up for a copy through Kickstarter because if you’re the sort of person reading this on this particular site, then you’re definitely the sort of person who will get more out of this than the money you put into it.


In the next post, I’m going to post the first draft of my introduction to this book, for a fuller picture of why this book, and the fight for marriage equality, are important to me.

– Chris