Available now, Be Gay, Do Comics, is the queer anthology you didn’t know you needed. A partnership between The Nib and IDW, the book features stories from forty different contributors, edited together by Matt Bors, Eleri Harris and Matt Lubchansky, Sarah Mirk, and Andy Warner.
Like many pieces of media released this year, this book unintentionally satisfies an emotional need. Because of COVID-19, Pride month didn’t happen as usual. Instead of the typical in-person fun, community-engaging celebrations, everything was relegated to socially-distant internet hangs. Be Gay, Do Comics brings the celebration to you, giving each individual the chance to learn history and empathize with personal stories from diverse creators.
The anthology’s artistic through-line is its cartoonish style, especially in the way people are drawn. Colors are bold and bright, and facial features are unrealistic. Choosing cartoon style over realism makes the book more accessible.
However, that doesn’t mean the stories themselves are cartoonish, two-dimensional narratives. Cartoon style seems to give the creator emotional distance from their personal narrative. This then allows them to capture the essential beats of their story.
For example, in Shing Yin Khor’s story “The Undercut,” they combine a cartoon-like drawing of self with watercolor and poetic narration. The combination shows how we objectify ourselves, honing in on hair as a sign of identity. Lettering that looks like handwriting adds to the sense of intimacy and introspection the lyrical narration provides.
Moreover, the same principals apply to the historical stories. In the case of “The Wonderfully Queer World of Moomin” by Mady G, the style is borrowed from the Finnish “Moomin” comic strips by Tove Jansson. Pastel colors and the particular cartoon style of Jansson’s characters lend a sense of whimsy to the story.
Balancing whimsy and emotional intimacy through cartoonish art ensures the book’s accessibility. So we can all have respite and time to reflect on this stressful year. But for LGBTQIA folks, Be Gay, Do Comics hits differently given that queer folk’s increased risk of contracting COVID. If you weren’t satisfied with Pride this year, this book just might help you feel a little less alone.