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8 CUTE MOMENTS IN QUEER GRAPHIC NOVELS: A Guest Post by Dov Zeller

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Hello. My name is Dov, and I’m doing a guest post on Leah’s blog. Here are some of my favorite awkward and/or cute moments in queer comics/ graphic novels. (There are many many many wonderful queer comics and GNs, and I just picked a few.)

I suppose doing such a post requires definitions. For me, what are queer comics? Comics in which queer characters are central characters. What is a cute and or awkward moment? Well, mostly I was thinking of moments related to romance, particularly romances in which the romance is not yet an official thing. But, really I tend to be so excited about queer cute moments in general so most of these are romance related, but not necessarily all.

1) I’m starting with As the Crow Flies by Melanie Gillman. “As the Crow Flies is a story about Charlie — a queer 13 year old girl who finds herself stranded in a dangerous place: an all-white Christian youth backpacking camp.” I appreciate the exploration of feeling out of place and finding community in a seemingly unfriendly environments. Charlie finds ways to deal with a sense of loneliness and outsiderness by connecting with nature and with some of the other humans, though it doesn’t happen right away. There are so many cute and awkward and cutely awkward and awkwardly cute moments. I love all the rich subtext and true-to-life subtle dynamics between characters–the communication that happens in between words.

I’m including two pages where Charlie and Charlie’s new friend Sydney, who is trans and as far as I can tell only out to Charlie, are uncomfortably listening to the group leader fervently talk about the historical significance of their journey as it relates to a group of Christian (cis) women…

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2) Next up, I’m going for Questionable Content. It can be hit or miss and there are many valid critiques of representations, but it’s pretty darned queer and it’s almost always entertaining and ostensibly takes place right here in Northampton, MA.

This page is a bit of an “a-ha” moment for Faye, a fairly recently sober cis female human who hasn’t dated since getting sober, I don’t think (in the past has mainly dated cis men.) She’s hanging out with her super bad-ass friend and co-worker Bubbles, a cis female (?) robot (not sure how robots speak of their gender identities in this world). Faye and Bubbles are both “tough on the outside squishy on the inside” type characters and some kind of romantic-ish tension has been building between them for sooooooooo long.

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3) Third is Eth’s Skin. “Eth’s Skin is a comic about a fisher named Eth living on the edge of a ragged ocean….It’s a queer (and genderqueer) fantasy full of monsters and low tides, cool non-binary individuals, queer relationships, and a pet pygmy harbour seal named Goblin.” This comic I’m choosing because it’s a wonderfully mundanely awkward moment between a non-binary human and a mermaid. I love the beautifully drawn non-sexualized mermaid-and-queer-human physical comedy.

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4) This is from Bingo Love“When Hazel Johnson and Mari McCray met at church bingo in 1963, it was love at first sight. Forced apart by their families and society, Hazel and Mari both married young men and had families. Decades later, now in their mid-’60s, Hazel and Mari reunite again at a church bingo hall.” This is a short and adorable though bittersweet graphic novel. I love how it spans a lot of time in such a short book and it’s a very low-key, fairly low drama epic love story. Hazel and Mari are two people who are simply meant to be together.

5) Life Outside the Circle is a compelling, frustrating, sweet story about two men from very different worlds who fall in love and try to make it work. At first I really didn’t like Sami, his pretentiousness and need for constant attention. But I think that’s all part of the comedy and story development. Sami, big city artist, a bit spoiled, trans, super duper ripped and foxy, moves to the middle of nowhere when he inherits some property, and has to figure out how to manage. His new neighbor Juha is a pretty down to earth single dad who doesn’t really identify openly as queer. Once I started reading this comic, I couldn’t stop. If you’re looking for a story that focuses on trans identity, this isn’t it. But if you’re looking for an exuberant love story between two guys with very different personalities, whose fantasy love is complicated by real life problems, give it a try!

[View a very adorable hand touching scene here!]

6) This is from the first volume of Space Battle Lunchtime: “an 8 issue miniseries about an earth chef tossed into an intergalactic cooking competition. Written and illustrated by Natalie Riess.” I love that this is a kids book with lots of adventure, crazy cooking, and a queer dynamic duo. Peony and Neptuna are another wonderful “odd-couple.” Here Peony and Neptuna haven’t really become friends yet. Neptuna is super tough and Peony a bit goofy, particularly around Neptuna. But this is during the cooking competition and though they’re fierce competitors, Peony winds up helping Neptuna out.

7) I can’t have a list without some Dykes to Watch Out For. I’m going to go for a Lois and Mo moment, not because it’s exactly awkward or exactly flirtatious, but because it’s always awkward and it’s vaguely flirtatious. Or it would be if it weren’t Lois and Mo?

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8) Last for this list, I am going to go with On a Sunbeam the moment when Grace and Mia meet. “Throughout the deepest reaches of space, a crew rebuilds beautiful and broken-down structures, painstakingly putting the past together. As Mia, the newest member, gets to know her team, the story flashes back to her pivotal year in boarding school, where she fell in love with a mysterious new student.” Mia is a bit of a trouble-maker and not always the most sensitive, and Grace is withdrawn, careful not to reveal too much about herself (she has her reasons). Their facial expressions are so wonderful. Grace is reserved and worried, and it shows, and I love Mia’s sly but not necessarily subtle delight in meeting Grace.

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