Last week, I gave a talk on 1990s lesbian comics to a packed room of art students at Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota, FL. Following the talk, their questions quickly followed a theme–they wanted to know where could they find these comics and where they could read queer comics today. They’re lucky in that Janelle Rebel, the head of special collections at Ringling (who invited me to give the talk), has spent the past 7+ years gathering together a super impressive array of contemporary LGBTQ visual artifacts, including artists books, zines, and comics at Ringling!

Expanding on the answers I gave to the students’ questions, I figured a post would be helpful. This guide is not meant to be exhaustive, but, rather, a starting point. If there are resources that you think would be worthwhile including, do share them and I’ll credit you if I add them!

  1. Historically, LGBTQ cartoonists most often published in the grassroots press. In his introduction to No Straight Lines (2012)–a magisterial collection of four decades of queer comics that’s well worth checking out–editor Justin Hall perfectly sums up the historic queer comics publishing landscape: “They have existed in a parallel universe alongside the rest of comics, appearing almost exclusively in gay newspapers and gay bookstores, and published by gay publishers. Queer comics have been primarily created for their own communities, and they have been neither interested in, nor able to gain, a wider market.”
    In the past ten years, a lot of older grassroots media has been digitized, which means that you can now sift through and read LGBTQ cartoonists in local, rare periodicals, which would be difficult to locate otherwise. Here’s a post that I made a couple of years ago listing open-access digitized grassroots media:
  2. Outside of the grassroots press, anthologies brought queer cartoonists together. LGBTQ cartoonists often served as editors of these projects and saw their work as important in bringing increased visibility to their fellow cartoonists. Here’s a roundup of some key anthologies:
    • Gay Heart Throbs (1976-1981)
    • Gay Comix (1980–1998)
    • Meatmen (1986-2004)
    • Strip AIDS (1987)
    • Strip AIDS USA (1988)
    • Gay Comics (1989)
    • Lana’s World (1989-1991)
    • Buddies (1991-1998)
    • Strange Looking Exile (1991-1994)
    • Bosom Buddies (1992)
    • Oh… (1992-1998)
    • A Queer Sense of Humor (1993)
    • Boy Trouble (1994-2000)
    • Dyke Strippers (1995)
    • Juicy Mother (2005)
    • Juicy Mother 2 (2007)
    • Gay Genius (2011)
    • No Straight Lines (2012)
    • Anything that Loves (2013)
    • QU33R (2014)
    • Alphabet (2016)
    • Being True (2018)
    • We’re Still Here (2018)
    • Rainbow Reflections (2019)
    • Be Gay Do Comics (2020)
    • When I Was Me (2021)
  3. Since its founding in 1987, Lambda Literary Foundation has honored the best LGBTQ books, including comics. At first, comics were nominated in the Humor category, but, since 2014, there’s been a Comics category. You can search through the past nominees on Lambda Literary’s website, and there’s a nice list of the comics finalists and winners since the establishment of the Comics category on Wikipedia.
  4. In the past ten years, there’s been a surge of queer comics publishing–with the establishment of queer comics-focused imprints and publishers. Here are a collection of publishers to check out:
  5. Over the years, queer cartoonists and fans have formed organizations to support queer comics. Those active today often have detailed websites that are nothing short of a treasure trove of resources. Here are a handful that will help you learn more about queer comics and cartoonists:
  6. In the past five years, there’s also a growing field of queer comics studies, as represented in special issues like the “Queer about Comics” issue of American Literature (2018) and the “Lesbian Content and Queer Female Characters in Comics” issue of Journal of Lesbian Studies (2018) and in Supersex: Sexuality, Fantasy, and the Superhero (2020) and The LGBTQ+ Comics Studies Reader (2022). Upon the release of the American Literature issue, editors Ramzi Fawaz and Darieck Scott put together a suggested reading list of comics and scholarship: