Thursday, July 7, 2022



This is a perilous time for the LGBTQIA community. Abandoning any pretense of being decent human beings, Republicans are attacking the community, especially trans kids and those who support them. It’s a typical GOP tactic, much in the manner of Ronald Reagan creating the non-existent “welfare queens” and using his creations to heap further abuse on those most in need.

The Supreme Court, having quite improperly taken away the right of a woman to control her own body, has already signaled its intent to abolish same-sex marriage and other human rights. The right-wing SCOTUS judges, who should be impeached and removed from office for lying under oath, are criminals and largely illegitimate. Not that I expect Republicans to be honorable human beings.

The LGBTQIA community needs all the allies it can get. This can be a difficult journey even for those allies, but it’s a noble effort nonetheless. Allies should not beat themselves up because of what they don’t know. Allies should endeavor to educate themselves about the community. The community should cut allies some slack during this process. We’re trying.

Recently, I’ve been reading several graphic novels and manga series with queer themes. As I write about them, please be helpful if I’m getting terms or anything else wrong. Use the comments section to correct me. Here we go...

Gender Queer: A Memoir by Maia Kobabe [Oni Press; $17.99] is one of the most challenged books in the United States. This is mostly due to the anti-LGBTQAI rhetoric of the Republican Party and other hate groups. Yes, there are a very few arguably explicit illustrations in this graphic novel. I would agree it’s not for pre-teen readers. I strongly disagree these few scenes should keep it from being available for appropriately-aged readers in either public or school libraries. These handful of scenes don’t negate the educational and psychological value of this memoir.

Kobabe uses e/em/eir pronouns. From the back cover copy:

Maia’s intensely cathartic autobiography charts eir journey of self-identity, which includes the mortification and confusion of adolescent crushes, grappling with how to come out to family and society, bonding with friends over erotic gay fan fiction, and facing the trauma and fundamental violation of pap smears.

Started as a way to explain to eir family what it means to be nonbinary and asexual, Gender Queer is more than a personal story: it is a useful and touching guide on gender identity—what it means and how to think about it—for advocates, friends, and humans everywhere.

Gender Queer has received an Alex Award from the American Library Association, for "books written for adults that have special appeal to young adults ages 12 through 18". In was also a finalist for the Stonewall Book Award for non-fiction. Because of these awards, and despite the challenges, the  book has become more widely available in libraries. More than ever, with the LGBTQAI community attacked by bigoted politicians and pseudo-Christians, it’s vital that young people have access to books like this.

ISBN 978-1-5493-0400-2


Call Me Nathan by Catherine Castro and illustrator Quentin Zuttion [SelfMadeHero; $19.99] is a “based on a true story” coming of age graphic novel about a young man assigned female at birth fighting to make his parents accept who he truly is during his transition. Because it’s a fictionalized account, I think it’s more dramatic in its storytelling than Gender Queer.

Gender Queer is the better of the two graphic novels, but Call Me Nathan is less sexual and maybe more suitable for younger readers. Don’t get me wrong. It will still be challenged by those who think any book that tells these stories and offers information that can help younger readers navigate these challenging roads are terrible simply because of their subject. But you can’t worry overmuch when it comes to the willfully bigoted and ignorant.

One of the elements I like here is the interactions between Nathan, his family and his friends as he transitions. It’s his journey, but it accurately shows that it does affect others. Their acceptance of who he is and who e must be is welcoming.

Originally published in French, Call Me Nathan has wonderful art by Zuttion. The storytelling is excellent, the images direct and more than occasionally beautifully ethereal.

Call Me Nathan is entertaining and informative. As the back cover copy states, it “issues a moving call for understanding, a powerful denunciation of prejudice, and a celebration of everything it means to love.” I recommend it to all, especially those buying books for public and school libraries.

ISBN 978-1914224010



Though based on real life, Gender Queer and Call Me Nathan are both excellent stories. But let’s switch to a non-fiction graphic novel meant to be an introduction to the LGBTQAI world.

A Quick & Easy Guide to Queer & Trans Identities by author/artists Mady G. and Jules Zuckerberg [Limerence Press; $9.99] was published in 2019. Available on Kindle and Comixology, it’s otherwise out of print. Paperback editions can be found on the secondary market for $9 and up and, possibly, from your local library system. That’s how I got the copy I read. From the Amazon come-on:

A great starting point for anyone curious about queer and trans life, and helpful for those already on their own journeys! In this quick and easy guide to queer and trans identities, cartoonists Mady G and Jules Zuckerberg guide you through the basics of the LGBT+ world! Covering essential topics like sexuality, gender identity, coming out, and navigating relationships, this guide explains the spectrum of human experience through informative comics, interviews, worksheets, and imaginative examples. A great starting point for anyone curious about queer and trans life, and helpful for those already on their own journeys!      

I was looking forward to this book, but my interest withered as I saw how the authors decided to present this information. A cartoon snail and some magical forest creatures. This approach obscured the
quick and easy guide I was hoping for. This isn’t the guide I was looking for.

ISBN 978-1-62010-586-3

I’ll be returning to the “queer comics” subject soon with thoughts on a trio of some fictional stories. In the meantime, keep watching the bloggy thing for more news, views and reviews.

© 2022 Tony Isabella

1 comment:

  1. Nice to see some people here respect queer identites