With Star Wars withdrawals
and shakes finally coming down I’ve been absolutely aflutter with the
possibilities of the sci-fi and fantasy genres outside of the blockbuster franchise.
There are so many things to read and enjoy–not to mention the
all-too-familiar feeling of “Where to begin?” If you’re facing a similar
conundrum, start with Beyond, a superb collection of queer sci-fi and fantasy
comics edited by Sfe R. Monster.
Stories featuring war, space
exploration, post-apocalyptic settings, and fantastical pirates are but a few
of the downright awesome additions to this collection. The richness of
the characters and shared themes throughout the book create an excellent
cohesion despite the wide spectrum of stylizations of its artists. With
most all characters being inherently or assumedly a member of the LGBTQA
community it is easy to start identifying the themes they convey more
succinctly. Science fiction and fantasy associate themselves with many
themes that involve personal identity, self-confidence, self-image, and
challenging overwhelming odds. These are all things that if you are a
member of the community or are close to someone in the community you should be
able to identify almost immediately. These stories actually make them
The first submission in
Beyond, “Luminosity” by Gabby Reed and Rachel Dukes, tells the life story of
two girls who grow up to be an astronaut and a ship’s power source. They
are intertwined by their need for one another if they intend to see the stars.
It is a poignant love story that hit me right in the heart of all my feels
(pardon the vernacular). Although it’s hard to narrow it down, my
favorite story in the anthology is “The Graves of Wolves.” It is the tale
of two men and their alien son living in a tank to protect each other from a
weaponized darkness. One day, scruffy dad takes cricket son out to hunt
and they end up fleeing from an all-consuming shadow as it descends upon them.
I want to nerd out about the ingenuity of this story’s simplicity, but I
can’t say more without spoiling the ending. Unfortunately, it’s somewhat
difficult to go into a deeper discussion on Beyond without spoiling ANYTHING because
it is a short story collection.
The stories included in
Beyond are all so sharp and clever in their use of classic genre themes that it
is an absolute shame that they run the risk of being branded as simply “queer”
as a result of the anthology’s title. It’s a shame that genres that
traditionally pride themselves for being inclusive still require queer stories
to announce themselves as such.
The fact that there
is a chance family friendly this book wouldn’t be welcome in a general sci-fi collection opens
a lot of room for discussion about the nature of the genres in question.
That discussion, however, can be saved for another time after you read
this fantastic collection that combines themes, narratives, and stylizations of
art that will inspire and delight anyone and everyone.
Matthew Burbridge is a
Digital Editor at ComiXology and his dream is to stop leaving socks everywhere
and celebrate by buying his girlfriend one thousand Pomeranians, and then
immediately regret it because one Pomeranian is already a lot of work.
Last week, cartoonist Rachel Dukes posted some eye-opening statistics to her Tumblr about a comic she made about what life as a cat owner is like. She originally published the comic with a copyright notice and a URL to her website. That version of the comic has been seen about 81,600 times.
Another version, from which someone removed the URL and copyright info, has been seen nearly 600,000 times, mostly on Tumblr and Facebook. This problem of lack of credit is one that lots of artists have dealt with and quite a few have talked about over the past several years, but it continues to persist. It makes me wonder if there could be some kind of fix.
The first story, “Carol & Rita”, of my end-of-the-world anthology 30 Minutes to Live. Written by me and drawn, toned, & lettered by my pal, racheldukes. I think I’m going to tumble the rest of these over the course of the next couple weeks. If you like this story, go read the other seven stories on the website right now! There are two more that will go up in the next couple months.
Also, my personal website is Exit 421, where you can find my other works, which tend to not be about the end of the world. Enjoy!
We wanted to give a preview of some of the amazing comics from the Beyond Anthology, so we’re bringing you another Beyond Anthology Spotlight!
Today’s spotlight is on Gabby Reed & Rachel Dukes and their story Luminosity.
Rachel Dukes is a MFA graduate from The Center for Cartoon Studies who has drawn comics for BOOM! Studios and Abrams. She is a regular contributor to anthologies and fanzines by other indie cartoonists, and her ongoing mini-comic series, Frankie Comics, was a winner of the 2013 Art Exchange program by Marc Calvary. Gabby
Reed is a writer of speculative fiction and poetry with an emphasis on
QPOC narratives. You can find her on Twitter @gabbysilang. Gabby and Rachel’s Beyond Anthology comic is called Luminosity: Luminosity blends science fiction and magic in the story of two women in love with each other, and the stars.
Ok another question, how did you get discovered? Or ya know how did you get the opportunity to make comics for adventure time and stuff? Thank you :)
Thanks for the follow-up question!
There’s no such thing as “discovered” in the comics industry (Spike wrote about this more eloquently here.) but I can talk about my history in comics and how I finally starting getting regular freelance work on licensed properties.
In addition to creating my own comics and anthologies, I also regularly submitted to anthologies put together by other creators. (The Big Ol’ Book of BIZMAR, I Saw You…Missed Connection Comics, Big Sexy, etc.)
I tabled at as many conventions as I could: Comic Con International, Alternative Press Expo, Wondercon, Emerald City Comicon, Portland Zine Symposium, TCAF, MoCCA, small local shows, craft fairs, zine/record swaps… in order to sell as many comics as I could and meet other creators. (This gave me the opportunity to meet a lot of my online peers in real life for the first time and strengthen our friendships.)
Even though I was creating new work regularly, creating comics never self-sustained itself financially. So in addition to all the comics work I was also co-running Mod Buttons (a custom button/lapel-pin company) with my partner Mike (who also worked with Poseur Ink), and taking illustration commissions from Cartoon Commune (under the care of Ryan Estrada). [In addition to helping me afford to print and publish comics, the former also put me in touch with even more independent artists and cartoonists. (Michelle Romo, Jason Ponggasam, Carol Burrell, etc.)]
So, I have a long history of working within the indie comics community. I never really broke in, I never really blew up, but I’ve been around, creating for a long, long time.
I helped work the BOOM Studios table during MoCCA 2012 in order to fulfill some of my CCS internship hours. There, I met BOOM editor Adam Staffaroni, who happens to be good friends with my pal Jon Chad (who happened to be one of my instructors while I was at CCS). There, Adam and I became friends. (Simultaneously, of my CCS classmates, Carol Thompson, had just recently begun working at BOOM as a graphic designer.)
Later that same year, Carol and I ran into each other at a convention and she told me she had decided to leave BOOM. My partner Mike, whose undergraduate was graphic design, applied to take her position. Adam was able to get Mike in as an intern for the position and they later hired him on full time. He started there in September 2012.
In December 2012, Shannon was looking for variant cover artists for Adventure Time with Fionna and Cake and my name came up in the studio. She emailed and asked if I would be interested. (Of course I said yes!)
Having done that cover (and having a portfolio full of Frankie comics) lead to my drawing the Garfield back-up story (edited by Chris Rosa) that will be on shelves this March. (Keep an eye out for that!)
Dafna is to thank for my pairing with Gabby Silang, which is how I ended up in the upcoming Beyond anthology. I have upcoming licensed work thanks to Adam… I have another upcoming independent project thanks to Carol Burrell…
It all comes down to community. Work hard, make friends, create opportunities for yourself and your friends, take opportunities when they’re offered to you (even if you don’t think you have the time)… be kind. Success is contagious and a rising tide lifts boats. For all my years drawing comics, I would not be as accomplished as I am today without the help of my friends.
And that, Chris, is how I got to draw for Adventure Time. :)
A few months back I did a piece of fan art for Rachel Dukes third Frankie Comics zine and look- the print version just arrived in the mail! You can read the silly adventures of this sweet cat on the mixtape comics tumblr or tapastic :)
Our narrator states that these “subcultures don’t have a lot of overlap, but I do.” Which is probably a statement that the readers of this site will agree with. But I have to wonder. The majority of anarchists I know are geeks of one variety or another. Is it more true to say that we have just traditionally separated the two? I know for myself these two identities remained separate for years. Yet I can thank my early dreams of playing a Ranger/Druid who protected the forest from the encroachment of civilization as a catalyst to discovering Earth First. It’s only been more recently, after comes to terms with the fact that at least for me the two are inseparable, that I have found greater comfort in both.