An utterly delightful and expansive collection of queer voices and truths.

BE GAY, DO COMICS

An illustrated anthology takes readers through queer history and identity.

As the introduction declares, the accessibility of comics as a medium (both for readers and creators) allows marginalized stories to flourish. This claim manifests throughout the anthology as memoir, satire, and educational comics from 40 diverse creators fill its colorful pages. The contributors embody a variety of identities, from ethnic and national background to voices who are intersex, asexual, and otherwise representative of the spectrum of queer identities. The comics themselves vary wildly too, in illustration style, theme, and length. While one satirical comic denounces the capitalist co-opting of gay iconography, another presents a joke about a gender reveal party that ruptures the cosmos. Graphic memoirs recall personal instances of both struggle and joy. Some authors also expand upon important events and figures in queer history, from an account of the gay, Jewish Nazi-resistance fighter Gad Beck to the Lavender Scare targeting queer federal employees in the 1950s. These educational moments inform without ever being didactic or dry. The art ranges from the adorably cartoony style of “How Do You Translate Non-Binary?” by Breena Nuñez to the gritty crosshatches of “Sometimes I Call Myself Queer. Sometimes I Feel Like a Liar.” by Nero O’Reilly. Many entries stand out as truly great works of art, and the collection as a whole will entice readers to savor and explore it again and again.

An utterly delightful and expansive collection of queer voices and truths. (Graphic anthology. 16-adult)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68405-777-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: IDW Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 25, 2020

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A powerful reminder of a history that is all too timely today.

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THEY CALLED US ENEMY

A beautifully heart-wrenching graphic-novel adaptation of actor and activist Takei’s (Lions and Tigers and Bears, 2013, etc.) childhood experience of incarceration in a World War II camp for Japanese Americans.

Takei had not yet started school when he, his parents, and his younger siblings were forced to leave their home and report to the Santa Anita Racetrack for “processing and removal” due to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066. The creators smoothly and cleverly embed the historical context within which Takei’s family’s story takes place, allowing readers to simultaneously experience the daily humiliations that they suffered in the camps while providing readers with a broader understanding of the federal legislation, lawsuits, and actions which led to and maintained this injustice. The heroes who fought against this and provided support to and within the Japanese American community, such as Fred Korematsu, the 442nd Regiment, Herbert Nicholson, and the ACLU’s Wayne Collins, are also highlighted, but the focus always remains on the many sacrifices that Takei’s parents made to ensure the safety and survival of their family while shielding their children from knowing the depths of the hatred they faced and danger they were in. The creators also highlight the dangerous parallels between the hate speech, stereotyping, and legislation used against Japanese Americans and the trajectory of current events. Delicate grayscale illustrations effectively convey the intense emotions and the stark living conditions.

A powerful reminder of a history that is all too timely today. (Graphic memoir. 14-adult)

Pub Date: July 16, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-60309-450-4

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Top Shelf Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 5, 2019

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A tribute to young people’s resistance in the face of oppression.

BANNED BOOK CLUB

In 1983 South Korea, Kim was learning to navigate university and student political activism.

The daughter of modest restaurant owners, Kim was apolitical—she just wanted to make her parents proud and be worthy of her tuition expenses. Following an administrator’s advice to avoid trouble and pursue extracurriculars, she joined a folk dance team where she met a fellow student who invited her into a banned book club. Kim was fearful at first, but her thirst for knowledge soon won out. As she learned the truth of her country’s oppressive fascist political environment, Kim became closer to the other book club members while the authorities grew increasingly desperate to identify and punish student dissidents. The kinetic manhwa drawing style skillfully captures the personal and political history of this eye-opening memoir. The disturbing elements of political corruption and loss of human rights are lightened by moving depictions of sweet, funny moments between friends as well as deft political maneuvering by Kim herself when she was eventually questioned by authorities. The art and dialogue complement each other as they express the tension that Kim and her friends felt as they tried to balance school, family, and romance with surviving in a dangerous political environment. References to fake news and a divisive government make this particularly timely; the only thing missing is a list for further reading.

A tribute to young people’s resistance in the face of oppression. (Graphic memoir. 14-adult)

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-945820-42-7

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Iron Circus Comics

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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