If you’re looking for a feel-good, tearjerker graphic novel, read on.
Nimona is by ND Stevenson, the mastermind behind She-Ra. It follows Nimona, a shapeshifter who joins the villain Ballister Blackheart to overthrow an organization called The Institute and defeat their champion, Ambrosius Goldenloin. What starts as a lighthearted story about an overzealous girl and a villain with a code of ethics quickly turns into an exploration of flawed characters and complex relationships. Making me laugh out loud and cry, Nimona is one of the sweetest, most poignant works I have read.
First published in 2016, Charlie Jane Anders’ debut novel All the Birds in the Sky presents a perfect marriage of science fiction and fantasy. The book follows two main characters, Patricia and Laurence (not Larry). Both characters embody one of the two genres. Patricia encapsulates fantasy, discovering her magical abilities at a young age through a conversation with a bird. Laurence, a scientific prodigy, represents science fiction, inventing a time machine that allows the user to jump forward in time two seconds.
The depiction of fantasy and science fiction makes for a captivating read. But another fascinating aspect of the novel is the presentation of gender. As a trans woman, Charlie Jane Anders brings a unique perspective to how gender is depicted, providing equal attention and honest descriptions. She then uses this presentation of gender to combat our traditional views of binaries, encouraging us to look beyond the usual presentation.
The author’s perspective comes through early on in the novel. The book begins with Patricia and Laurence as middle school outcasts, just learning about their special skills and still navigating their complicated lives. Anders transitioned from male to female, and subtle influences can be found throughout this section of the book. Patricia and her sister, Roberta, both have names derived from traditional masculine names – Patrick and Robert. Their parents originally picked only “boy” names, but switched them to the feminine version.
Recently, the Netflix show Heartstopper has taken the world by storm. I get the bragging rights of having been in the fandom since the comics were out, so I was very excited for the release of this show. Let me tell you, it did not disappoint.
About a year ago, my younger sibling came out to me as queer. They are still in elementary school, and I was afraid of how they’d be treated since the reactions to me coming out in middle school were less than kind, I was very concerned about how their peers would react. And yet I was pleasantly surprised by how much the school environment has changed in the six years since I’ve been in elementary school. People were more open and accepting, and their school even has an LGBTQ acceptance club.
tw: mentions of oppression, stoning, su*cide, and forced labor.
From lesbian period dramas, or the odd transmedicalist, slightly transphobic period drama, to biopics about men that did SOMETHING in the past and happened to be gay, we can see a pattern of how queer people are presented in historical fiction: sad & yearning.
Which, to some extent, is true. The past, has had a very convoluted relationship with what we now know as queer identities or identities that deviate from the norm (in part because of colonization, but that’s another story), however that doesn’t mean that queer joy did not exist before the 21th century.
It is not secret that Hollywood favors queer pain over queer happiness, going so far as to re-write real life events: The Children’s Hour (1961), in which a girl makes allegations against her teachers of “homosexual activity” leaving the teachers to make a lawsuit of slander. In the movie the two teachers lose the case, and even one of them kills herself, whereas in the real-life case the movie is based on, the two teachers win their suit and no-one dies, although it did severely damage their reputation.
The following is a dramatization of an event and should be taken lightly:
A person with genuine intentions asked once, “LGBTQ+ people what is the difference between writing straight romances and queer romances?”
The queer people in the writing room said, “[The characters] Dealing with queerphobia mostly”.
The person explained that in the world they were creating there would be no bigotry to be found.
“In that case, pretty much the same,” this queer people said and everyone went back to their homes."
However I am here because I don’t think that the difference between straight and queer romances is as simple as that.