I’ve been waiting for No Straight Lines: Four Decades of Queer Comics since I first heard about it last summer. I just found out today that it’s not being released this month as previously announced and is coming in June. I can’t wait!
Here’s a blurb from the publisher:
It’s no secret that I love graphic novels — especially those that are informed by historical events and introduce me to new ideas. But in the beginning my inspiration was the “funnies” section of the newspaper. My father got me into collecting comic paperbacks when I was around five years old.
Until recently, queer cartooning existed in a parallel universe to the rest of comics, appearing only in gay newspapers and gay bookstores and not in comic book stores, mainstream bookstores or newspapers. The insular nature of the world of queer cartooning, however, created a fascinating artistic scene. LGBT comics have been an uncensored, internal conversation within the queer community, and thus provide a unique window into the hopes, fears, and fantasies of queer people for the last four decades.
No Straight Lines showcases major names such as Alison Bechdel (whose book Fun Home was named Time Magazine’s 2006 Book of the Year), Howard Cruse (whose groundbreaking Stuck Rubber Baby is now back in print), and Ralf Koenig (one of Europe’s most popular cartoonists), as well as high-profile, cross-over creators who have dabbled in LGBT cartooning, like legendary NYC artist David Wojnarowicz and media darling and advice columnist Dan Savage.
No Straight Lines also spotlights many talented creators who never made it out of the queer comics ghetto, but produced amazing work that deserves wider attention.
I would spend many a weekend at thrift stores going through their discount bins and uncovering treasures I first discovered in The Sacramento Bee like Hurray for B.C., I Love You, Broom-Hilda and other classics. I learned what social commentary was through comics, from collections like Do They Ever Grow Up? and of course MAD Magazine (I collected the paperbacks).
Inspired by my love for the TV series “Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman,” in the 90′s I started reading and purchasing comics and graphic novels again. After the show ended I admit I forgot about collecting comics and didn’t pick it up again until I started working for MTV News in 2006. It was perfect timing. There, I had the opportunity to suggest a name for the new comics blog and it was selected: Splash Page. I contributed interviews and reviews when I had the time, such as a great Q&A with The Alcoholic‘s Jonathan Ames.
After I left MTV News in 2009, I took my interest in reviewing comics and graphic novels (as well as technology-driven innovation) over to MTV Tr3s, where I created the “Comics” category on Blogamole and interviewed High Soft Lisp author Gilbert Hernandez, of Love and Rockets fame. I encouraged Tr3s’ contributing bloggers to continue pitching comics coverage after I left.
I still purchase comics and graphic novels but haven’t reviewed them on The Lair or for any of my employers in quite some time. When you work in media, it isn’t always easy to align your passion with your work commitments. I don’t have time to get as deep into comics and graphic novels as I used to, but this year I promised myself that I will review any new comic purchases I make and I will definitely be blogging about No Straight Lines: Four Decades of Queer Comics when it’s finally on my shelf!
I’m thankful for the opportunities I had through MTV News’ Splash Page and at MTV Tr3s to celebrate comic culture and the people who continue to innovate in that space. I’m not an expert whatsoever — just a fan who was at the right places at the right times to contribute to the culture. If you’re looking for experts, follow my colleague Rick Marshall. He’s an excellent person to research and contact if you’re interested in learning more about a career that involves comics coverage and all sorts of geeky pop-culture opportunities.
For those of you looking to pick up and learn more about independently-published comics (and you’re within traveling distance of NYC), check out this year’s MoCCA Festival on April 28 and 29.
DISCLOSURE: My headline was inspired by this beautiful song.