No Straight Lines: Sexuality and LGBT Identities in Sequence
In 2012 Fantagraphics published No Straight Lines: Four Decades of Queer Comics, edited by cartoonist Justin Hall. The collection testifies to the rich heritage of comics by queer creators that address aspects of LGBT lives from the mundane to the fantastic, the superheroic to the quotidian. The collection showcase the breadth of LGBT engagement with sequential art in underground comix, zines, webcomics, newspaper strips, and beyond. The same year, 2012, marked the twentieth anniversary of Marvel Comics’ revelation that Alpha Flight superhero Northstar was gay, a revelation made at the height of the AIDS crisis that took disproportionately impacted gay men. In celebration of this anniversary Northstar married boyfriend Kyle in a major comic announced on ABC’s The View. While 2012 was a milestone of sorts, over the past three years creators and comic-book companies have devoted more energy and capital to producing comics that narrate the diversity and complexity of sexual identity and LGBT lives. Part of a larger push for diversity in mainstream and independent comics, the attention to LGBT issues and representation is primarily a result of outspoken fan engagement with the comics field.
But as Justin Hall’s aptly named collection attests, queer creators and LGBT identities have a long, if sometimes closeted, history in comics of all styles and manners of production. As a growing body of comics scholarship demonstrates, this history stretches from the origins of American comic-book production and the Tijuana bibles through to the censored comics of the postwar comics crisis and on into underground comix circles; from Marvel’s explosive early years to the AIDS crisis and beyond.
The “No Straight Lines: Sexuality and LGBT Identities in Sequence” panel of the MSU Comics Forum 2016 seeks papers that contextualize the histories of sexuality in sequential art. The goal of this panel is to provide a snapshot of the complexity and diversity of LGBT identities in comics, in the industry, and among readers/fans.
Papers that recover understudied narratives, creators, or historical moments in comics’ engagement with the shifting categories of queerness are preferred, though papers that bring a new perspective to well-documented topics are welcome contributions. Papers may address mainstream, independent, underground, or alternative comics/creators/audiences, as well as webcomics and comic strips.
Please send abstracts of 250 words (maximum) to the panel session organizer, Sean Guynes, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Include a tentative title and your institutional (or other) affiliation.
Proposals for the panel are due November 15, 2015. This will allow us to meet the panel session proposal deadline (December 1, 2015).