Take the Last Bite

We take a bit out of queer comic books with Amara Vear, the Queer Comic Peddler. We geek out about our personal literary faves, the impact of book banning, and the future of queer publishing.

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Host: R.B. Brooks, they/them, director of programs, Midwest Institute for Sexuality and Gender Diversity 

Cover art: Adrienne McCormick

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Creators & Guests

R.B. Brooks
Director of Programs, Midwest Institute for Sexuality and Gender Diversity
Justin Drwencke
Executive Director, Midwest Institute for Sexuality and Gender Diversity

What is Take the Last Bite?

Take the Last Bite is a direct counter to the Midwest Nice mentality— highlighting advocacy & activism by queer/trans communities in the Midwest region. Each episode unearths the often disregarded and unacknowledged contributions of queer & trans folks to social change through interviews, casual conversations and reflections on Midwest queer time, space, and place.

For questions, comments and feedback: lastbite@sgdinstitute.org

To support this podcast and the Institute, please visit sgdinstitute.org/giving

Host: R.B. Brooks, they/them, director of programs for the Midwest Institute for Sexuality & Gender Diversity

Cover Art: Adrienne McCormick

Hey hi hello y’all, this is R.B., your collector of all things Midwest, welcoming you to Take the Last Bite, a show where we take Midwest Nice, tie it to the end of a string and toss it into a lake hoping a crappie or walleye takes the bait.

On today’s show, I get to nerd out with a fellow bookworm to chat about the golden era of queer comic books as well as some of our other literary faves.

But first, we gotta talk about Target….

The big box store with the big red bullseye has missed its own target by pulling Pride merch from its shelves in response to anti-queer backlash from customers. Citing this decision as a concern for employee safety, Target has not shared exactly what Pride items it will be taking out of their stores, but one creator of the Pride collection seems to be a central figure of the sudden removal.

Transgender designer Erik Carnell’s business “Abprallen” is the only contributor so far to have designs removed from Target’s website and stores– there’s suspicion that the controversy over Carnell’s designs were more to do with items he sells on his own website– such as depictions of pentagrams and satanic references, not the ones being sold in Target– which included a sweater with the slogan “Cure Transphobia Not Trans People.”

One minor bright side to this latest move from Target is that Carnell has seen a huge surge in orders via his personal shop, to the point where he’s had to stop taking orders to catch up.

Target’s decision is complicated, and also shows the ways in which large corporations can pick and choose when and how they display (literally) their support for queer and trans people. There are many independent artists and designers whose work is featured in Target’s Pride Collection who could certainly use our support outside of the once-a-year ways they are promoted by department stores and other companies.

This feels like a proper time to promote the Makers Market that the Midwest Institute for Sexuality & Gender Diversity launched as part of our annual conference. We started this queer Etsy, but in person space at the 2022 Midwest Bisexual Lesbian Gay Transgender Asexual College Conference and were thrilled to meet and hangout with several queer and trans creators who adventured with us on this new project & we’re thrilled to be continuing the program at this year’s MBLGTACC in Lexington, Kentucky. If you’re a queer creator and wanna learn more about tabling at the largest gathering of LGBTQ+ youth– please check out mblgtacc.org for more details on how to sign up.

As creators of queer and trans spaces, I will also plug that the Midwest Institute for Sexuality & Gender Diversity will be participating in GiveOut Day during the month of June. This LGBTQ+ focused fundraising event runs from June 1 until June 28 and this is a prime opportunity for supporters of LGBTQ+ advocacy work to give your favourite orgs, small businesses, and individuals some extra monetary support. We have set a goal of raising $5000 through community giving. You can learn more and set up your one-time or recurring donations at sgdinstitute.org/giving to support our efforts in educating, empowering and sharing the stories of Midwest queer and trans youth.

Today’s guest is one of the rad folks who joined us for the very first MBLGTACC Makers Market – Amara Vear aka the Queer Comic Peddler. There was not a single time I walked through the conference space that I didn’t see a swarm of people thumbing through their amazing selections of queer comics, memoirs, and children’s books. We chat about our favourite reads, the impact of book bans, and the future of queer publishing.

Find a comfy place to sit and flip to the first page of this episode… of Take the Last Bite


Why can't we be in space with hundreds of other queer and trans folks and having these necessary conversations?

When it comes to dynamics around privilege and oppression, and around identity. Well intentioned isn’t actually good enough.

How far is too far to drive for a drag show? I don’t know, we’re in Duluth right now, I would straight up go to Nebraska, probably,

If you are not vibing, or something’s not right, or also like there’s an irreparable rupture, you have absolutely every right to walk away.

Definitely going to talk about Midwest Nice and if that's as real as it wants to think it is.

Midwest nice is white aggression. That's what it is.


All right, friend, let's go ahead and get into it. Really stoked about this conversation. And as I was saying right before I hit this record button this will be the first time we've been pitched by someone to be on the podcast, I was very happy to oblige because I'm excited to chat with you about your work and your passion area. So why don't we just start with a quick introduction from you, including. If you may, UM, what is your relationship to the Midwest?

My name is Amara Vear and I run Queer comics peddler pop up and I attended MSU and graduated in 2011. Now OK and I attended a bunch of the mobile tech events was on the pitch committee, but not the Planning Committee, which is, as everyone knows, a whole other ball game. For when we hosted, that is and I have lived in the Midwest, in Michigan my whole life. So very nice.

That's really exciting. How many conferences? Would you say you've been to of MBLGTACC?

Three, when I was a student and then I think 2 now as a vendor.

OK. Which were the three, Lucy?

And when one when I wasn't a. Student and I snuck in.

You're you're still welcome to do that. So the ones when you were a student would have, I'm assuming been the. Did you go to the OR knew? That had been after graduate.

After I I went to the. One way over in. Iowa, like way over there and my ability to remember which state I actually was in, is actually kind of hard because we didn't sleep much.

OK. That's fair. Mm-hmm. Yeah.

That weekend and. Went to the Michigan one when it was at U of M and when that was.


When I snuck in.

There you go.

I've been to Kalamazoo as a vendor and I'll be going. I'll be going as a vendor. So my timelines are all off, I guess is what I'm saying. But approximately 4 to 5 mobile techs is what I've been. To that's a pretty.

Substantial amount, I think especially with the gap between like being a student and now coming back as a vendor which was you know exciting for us because we you know started the maker market last year, we've had vendor fairs or different types of resource fairs where that's kind of. Like a mixed bag of whoever wants to table at the conference can, but you know last year we. The maker market is kind of our colloquial what we call the queer Etsy in person experience, and we weren't sure you know what the receptivity to that was going to be and it was really nice to have this really like intimate and smaller but mighty like starting group. And I would say that there wasn't a time that I walked through the giant. Space where there wasn't a cluster of people at the like makers spaces, including your table, right? I hope that was lucrative for you. I know that we've got some really good feedback and are excited. To do it again. So I you know, I'm really happy that this has also turned into a podcast or relationship where we can kind of talk about the back story of how you're coming into our space. So why don't we get into that a little bit? Where did the idea for queer comic pedaling come from? How did you get into this particular?

It actually was a comic that OK? I think it's like hell MacDonald I have. I've been searching and trying to find the anthology that that was in, but a comic of a group of queer friends that are like some kind of Renaissance fantasy time and they're just going off to the market to altogether to pop up and sell their cheeses and their wares. Whatnot, it's it's, you know, cute. It's clear representation. And so I. Realized that people have been doing this kind of thing popping up and selling just a small amount of items. Not a big box. Store for a long time and there's no reason I couldn't do that with the. The thing I I love and seek out the. Most, but that is clear, clear Comics.

And that's just kind of been an affinity of. Yours for a long time. Like, how did you? What was your gravitation towards comics in particular?

So I was a reader. I was more a reader when I was little. I I read it and it little being like before college, and I couldn't spend time reading full blown books all the time.


And I read a lot and then as A and as a little kid, I would read the Saturday Morning Comics because I was in the middle of nowhere with my my biological dad and we didn't have TV. We didn't have Internet back then. We didn't have anything but. The fields and.


And and and. The paper, which came every Saturday and I was only there on the weekend, so it wasn't that big of a deal. But like I always want to read those comics with, like the two that were actually kind. Of funny for a child and. Then I grabbed potato towards web comics when they first started appearing. And found a number of of cartoonists that I still follow from back when I was in middle school. I guess because that was when the Internet started becoming more available and got to watch. Essentially, these creator owned strips grow and start to take on their be able to be published. We actually have self. Publishing now that didn't exist in the 90s. That look at least. That looks as professional, I should say. And as time went on, I went to MSU. I joined the queer caucuses and led Spectrum, which is the East Campus caucus, at least at the time when I was there, it was and built a media library. Of of DVD's and stuff with clear content and realized I could do the same with comics. Once I graduated. Because I was seeing all these things be published and getting. Really hyped about them.

That's really cool, I.

Feel like so, like when I was in college. We definitely had like a library in our. It was called the Rainbow Lounge at UMKC and I cannot recall. And I spent a lot of time in there. I cannot recall, right. Like there being much beyond novels, books, textbook type like nonfiction, definitely. You know, I'd be curious if it's changed or if it's even a library anymore. If there's more graphic novels or comics because I do think, and I think you are a prime example, just being in the conference space last year with the gravitation of kind of our, you know, youth audience, college aged folks, you know really gravitating towards. Comics, graphic novels, and we also I recall, peddled kids books, right. Like I think that was also a really nice refreshing piece. I know a lot of folks that I talked to are like, oh, I need to pick up something from my nibbling or I need to pick up something for you. Know this other small. Child in my life and just like I thought that was really cool. So, like, how did the? How how does the lake thought process of just what you want to collect and kind of what you bring to your pop ups and the conference space kind of come together like how are you making your choices and selections for what you want to showcase to folks?

So a lot of it is, I mean the the scope is books by or about clear and trans people. That's what I'm I'm looking for. So sometimes people might I I think sometimes people aren't out yet and they'll write about characters and sometimes they don't come out they. Want to write about? Characters and so that's my my scope and then. I expanded to kids books because I wanted to make sure I had like a full range of. Of use and options for people, kids and all the way from kids to grown-ups and kids, books are pretty much comics like, I don't know, people have thought about this, but they are comics. They're just single panel pages and the publishing like industry is different for kids. But like in terms of what you're. Making it's it's it's comic.

What has been?

Your experience, and I feel like my. I would guess of how this is going to be answered. They're going to ask you anyway what has been your experience so far, knowing that we're currently in a climate where a lot of LGBTQ based books plus additional books with any kind of diversity, right, there's a lot of book banning attempts or successes from our opposers, if you will, right now. Has that shown up in any way in like any of the spaces that you've done? Of the you know, has it created any impacts on you?

Being able to access copies.

Of books I know, like I know a lot of the bans are mostly proposed at this point and they're coming. Being actualized more so, I think in Southern states at this moment, but there's certainly a precedent starting where there there's a chain reaction of of long list of books being on a banned list. I think they've just read super recently that like Gender Queer is one of the like most listed books on those lists of banned consideration list, and I know that's one that I think you've included in your rotation of books that you're promoting cause a very obvious reason. So like what? How is that impacted kind of your thought process or your selections are kind of your motivations for doing your pop ups and promoting queer narrative?

It's it's kind of inspired me to want to to do it more. I really want to make Michigan a state where there's this physically so many comics like Clear Comics here that people have access to them, and it will hopefully make it easier for people to understand different points of view. Like, there's that that nice. I think perspective there, but we've also seen about I think at least four to six bans pushed in our libraries and and schools in Michigan already that. I know of. And Gender Queer is this is the second year in the row where where Maia Kobabe’s memoir is is being is #1 on the most banned books because it depicts some antiquity pieces, is what I realize. It's made so it's made me more inspired to do this, but I haven't had much pushback from people showing up coming to me and saying that I need to get rid of whatever I'm I'm depicting usually. It's more generic bigots protesting pride. And I've seen some really my favorite has been Lowell prides approach to back in 2000. And I think one that where they the free mom hugs group surrounded the bigots. And and had like banners so high up that you couldn't see any of their signs and you couldn't hear them. And so they just followed them around, like surrounded as they tried to go around the pride event, until eventually the three or four bigots just gave. Up, they said, well, they.

Keep following us.

We we got to. But they didn't want to be there anymore. And whenever you look try and like, look at him some someone would say, would you? And it was very it was like this direct action that I hadn't. I've never heard of or seen before. And I loved that. But in terms of the bands. I feel like we're in this golden age right now. We have like, this perfect moment of there's a lot of places publishing smaller comics and independent comics. Independent creators can create their own comics and publish them. And then we also have like book book publishers finally looking in and saying Ohh comics are making money. We'll we'll publish them too. And so you have these a lot more channels that are publishing these these works. So we're we're in like this golden age is just what I I describe it as with a representation. But with that comes more visibility and I think more pushback and one of one of the reasons I think that folks are upset about. Maia's memoir is that you is so it identifies as Ace and doesn't want kids and is so outside of the the heterosexual, cisgender reproductive goals that a lot of parents have that that's very threatening. And then the last one I I would say is I just read today that a lot of the book bans being pushed are being done by a very small subset of individuals as in like under under 100 individuals are pushing almost all hands like the majority of them. So that parts also.

R.B. : That is, that is encouraging and also just alarming that that small group of people can make such like a wave of just kind of consistently pushing the talking point that these are the books, you know, the list is pretty consistent across all the spaces you see where there's recommendations for bans. I also just. I don't know how many authors or who all is involved in this lawsuit, but George M Johnson I follow who wrote– of course I can't remember it right now. One of his books, though, is is like on all of these lists, and it's been on lists of book bans either. State legislation or libraries pulling it from shelves and he's part of a federal lawsuit, I think. Be pushed back against, you know, the books that are being banned. I’ll find more information about that and tuck it in the show notes for this. But just seeing that there's now at least a–a wave of well, how do we cut this short before it balloons into something larger? Keeping it to that cluster of, you know, less than 100 people as you're saying, right, so that. You know the books can. Just go out. Right? You don't I? I feel like it's a strange tactic though. It makes so much sense as a tactic for our opposers to come at the texts that we, you know, use and that we're writing and that we're trying to push out for community connection purposes for educational purposes, for affirmation purposes because like. I don't know when I walk into a library or bookstore and I see books by, you know, Tucker Carlson and Megyn Kelly and just whatever I roll my eyes and I keep it moving because, like, I don't know, I would never personally be in the mindset where I'd be like, you shouldn't be allowed to write a book. I may feel uncomfortable that you're writing a book and that there might be someone in my ecosystem. You might read it right. Some of the boomers in my life, you know and. Like the concept of coming after folks's written work from a freedom of speech perspective, especially from the crowd that's obsessed with freedom of speech, is just such a cognitive dissonance. That just doesn't make any sense.

Yeah, I have a lot of loved ones that are – that are extreme right wingers and so I I've had some conversations with them and it and sometimes I am. It's am I talking to the talking points from a TV or am I talking to somebody that's able to converse? Is usually the the like level at that. I kind of draw the line.

Are you teachable and or am like, open to a different perspective or. Yeah, are you arguing with like that? To pull it out of that space because we could talk about that as a whole, whole piece of episode itself.

Are some of.

Your favorite comics, like either newer ones, current ones that you're really hype about, some that are coming out soon, maybe, or ones that are just like classics that are. A big deal to you? Or any books really. But it seems like. Comics are your.

Coming are my jam, but I can I can give a couple special shout outs so Maia Kobabe’s Gender Queer is– there's a reason it's being banned –it’s because it's so good. I just– I'm a big fan of that as like an ace person with like it was afab and try–trying to figure out gender stuff – it's great. It's a really great one and I see why the the other side is so threatened by it. And then I I would also say Kat Leyh did Thirsty Mermaids and Snapdragon and.


Both of these are fabulous books, ones for aimed at adults and ones aimed at middle grade. The 8-12 year old age range magic and and found family. Or like all of these and and all of that. And I also would do a special shout out to Cedar Mcleods as a book, a book recommendation. OK, the magical library series by Newman. A spirit press. This this book is a in a set in a world where everyone uses em/er pronouns in this culture, and there's like content warnings in the beginning and it deals with like messy 30 like people in queers in their 30s dealing with academia like like working in academia.

Ouch, that's me.

Uh-huh. And imagine. And it's like a. It's like a comfort rate. And the second one was just published on Kickstarter. So eager eager to read that. And yeah, I could. I guess I could go on and. On I see all my books over here. And then I guess the special shout out to the nib, the nib is a printing press that just shut down yesterday. They're or they're, they announced. They're shut down. They're shutting down after 10 years, and they consistently they were transient and like clear run, consistently published trans and queer creators. And it's just a shame that it's it's they're shutting down, but. You know, gotta live.

That's such a bummer. I feel like it just it feels very much in line with like the what we're seeing with the queer media companies. I've seen several posts in just the past week of folks who work at auto straddle having their positions eliminated. Kind of that with Them and Into– BuzzFeed, right. Just a lot of like clear leading a clear, focused media. And so it feels like it's kind of right in line with you know, where our where our stories are coming from or having a hard time hanging on which is. You know also why this podcast is important is kind of to. To keep some kind of oral archive of some of these conversations, to keep the history of like, if this only existed for a snapshot, which 10 years is kind of a snapshot or, you know, how long. Clear comic hub are going to be in existence, hopefully for a really really really, really, really long time and right like it might evolve into something else you might, you know, merge lanes with. Something you know, just like what? What that could look like can be so different because things change and shift and you're doing something that is wholesome and we know like we just talked about that there's plenty of people who like, no, we don't want people pushing queer narratives in book form, regardless of how. Reasonable, but that that should be so.

Rights of our country. Yeah, that we have.

What a concept. What a concept.

Special shout out to those to tab kimpton's book. I realize they didn't mention any books that have, I think, sexuality in. Them Teddington published it just off discord. Comics publishes like high quality **** from Britain, and it's not there's a problem in the US where we have a lot of puritanical approaches to our stories. And that's one of the special areas I try to search for is like what I call the grown up Comics comics aimed at grown-ups and that. As as we get this, these other narratives happening I I kind of worry about that, but I also don't want to let the Puritans win so.

I didn't even think about that. Formal fan fiction.

Yeah, fan fiction is a great example of, you know, getting what we actually want.

I was reading an interview that you've done based in Ypsilanti. I think with MLive? Does that sound correct? OK, somewhere that we put that on our Institute website and reading it I got to the point where you were talking about referring a particular book that will will say in a second to a friend of yours who wasn't a big reader and I jumped out of my chair immediately and went to– So I've been keeping a written record of every book I've ever. Red since I was in 8th grade, right? So obviously I'm sure I read plenty of books before 8th grade, but I have a written record. I also used GoodReads which I shouldn't be, but that's what I have StoryGraph is better, but I just haven't, you know, decided to shift my stuff over to StoryGraph yet.

But the book is Luna

And I remember as soon as I read it in the interview because you mentioned that was the book that you referred to, friend to who just wasn't. Really interested in reading. And I remember you unlocked like that, just reading that in the interview, you unlocked, like from like the Inside out movie like a core memory of.

Just like oh.

****, I definitely read that book and I went and looked and I read that book in like 2007. And so I did the math and. I would have been 16 years old when I read that book. Right. That book was published in 2004. I read it, obviously a couple a handful of years after and like as a trans non binary person, now I do not recall reading that book in that moment and being like, Oh yes, that is me.

I do recall reading that and being. Like this is.

I want to say fascinating because my 16 year old brain was very much interested and intrigued by this trans woman narrative that I had never encountered anywhere else before. And so all of that to say that book was so ahead of I think so much else that is now coming up in this golden. Age of comics, you're. Thing about there's a book. About every type. Of trans experience, I feel like at this point many trans people especially are getting, you know, book deals. Janet mocks books are kind of pivotal, I think is kind of the the leading source on kind of like a very memoir as trans narrative. But I totally forgot about Luna until I reread it in that. In that interview of yours, and I was like Oh my God, that book was a big deal and it just was lost in the back of my psyche memory. So I very much was excited to be reminded. Of that book.

Yeah, that that was my first book I read with a trans character at all ever. And actually it was. It was my friend that recommended it to me. No, because he knew I was a strong reader and he wasn't a big reader.

I see. OK.

But you know, when he came out as trans a few years later that it all snapped into place. So that's why you really. How that narrative so fascinating because we hadn't seen any of that where I. Was growing up.


And yeah, I have. I have some quibbles with that. The narrative now, I don't know if if if anyone else has read it. But like in short.

I have not. Since I was 16, but I would be interested to retry. I'd probably find it a little. Cringe, but you know. 2004.

It's it's good, it's but and it's very much like, well, what if you're what if your sibling was trans, wouldn't you still feel feel for them even if it was harder for you? It was kind of the. Premise of this book and. Nowadays, that's an older narrative, but at the time there is, there was no trans characters for in children's fiction, so that that itself was helpful. That representation, and then any like other books that had queer characters, the Tamara Pierce books, the the main characters in the. Golden, not the golden compass in the circle of Magi. These folks, they were, they were lesbians raising these kids together. Well, that didn't happen. And so you wanna be a wizard? The two guys that train the the kids, they're they're gay and they're together. But you know, they're just they're just roommates. All of these are just they're just roommates. Kind of is the thing. And as a kid, especially as an ace kid, I was like, oh, yeah. I I want to live with all my friends. I'm gonna draw a little plan for a little commune together, and we'll live. Like this in the future like that.

The true goal, yes.

But in hindsight I'm like Ohh sexuality is happening even behind closed doors and that's something that I I didn't see so. The representation actually being like explicit was was important for that book and now nowadays it's that narrative is is not used as often, but I find it in other countries there is like like in the manga content that I share there's there's. Stuff that is very explicit content, but there's also stuff that is. Like there's a series I really love called I hear the sunspots and it's really great in terms of like, deaf and hearing disabilities representation in Japan. But the gay love, like romance, is just the pace is glacial. It's the the slowest I've ever seen, and it's like, oh, you get a kiss. On the cheek in book two, like you get a like some like, like touching in the rain and book in book three and then like a lot of like, freaking out about it. It's almost homophobic and and it feels. Like but it's it's not entirely like but. That's the pacing and it brings me back. To the 90s when we're like. Ohh, they're gotta be careful talking about any of this stuff. This is how I expect the readers to feel and I I don't think that happens as much with our with the current publications.

Yeah, I, you know, thinking back to again, reading Luna when I was 16 and thinking about just like what I was able to access as a 16 year old who was still living at home in a well. It was a split household on one end I had a parent who. Was very, very anti everything right, just very hateful. Or send another parent who like is not that, but you know it impacted like what I was able to watch on TV, right? I very distinctly have a A. Memory of like. Not being able to have the Ellen DeGeneres Show on TV, you know, not necessarily like verbal comments about it, but just like, ohh, it popped up on TV and suddenly the the channel was switched and just. Like getting those. Kind of non verbal and like implicit messages of just like what is allowed to be watched in a household where there was a TV in every single room. Way and so that is a. You know, it's harder to. Be able to access. That when you're in a house where there's certain things that can't be on TV. The sound has to be down. Maybe you get to watch it late at night, or if you're in the basement by yourself, you can watch. But but like no one was monitoring what books I brought home, I was reading from a young age. It was something that I was promoted to do. It was cool. It was a cool thing that I as a young kid, was a big reader. And so when I was just bringing stuff back from my high school library at that time, Luna was one of those books and no one was paying attention to the books I was reading. Because I could do that in the privacy of my room without much question, and it wasn't a shared activity that would be public. So like in retrospect, I was doing. Something pretty like. Risk because like if Luna was a TV show or a movie, I couldn't have watched it without alarm or concern or question. And I think that's a huge deal that, you know, has always made it important to me to try to put books in the hands of what, you know, I work with college students now, obviously, where, like, I'm always really excited when I have students who are sitting in my office. And suddenly I see their eyes. Kind of really. Hyper fixating on my bookshelf and I'm like I'm not necessarily interested in borrowing you all of those because some of them are very important to me, but I'm happy to, like, buy you a copy with my budget, right? Like I'm happy to like access, you know. Get you access. In some type of way and get you to see what's available to you. Because for me books or where it's at that like YouTube. Tumblr is where it's been at for like folks, you know, college age right now? Probably not for the college age folks anymore unfortunately, but I think you you know what? I mean, right? Just like how like the book is the covert way of getting the representation that, you know, social media offers now, but in a way for folks who maybe can. Consumed that publicly, that was a big deal. I think for me when I was.

I had a a similar experience growing up. I was wasn't allowed to wear cargo pants. You know who wears cargo pants? According to my mom, lesbians.

Oh, no, of course.

Back in this in the, you know, early aughts. And I I wanted the pockets so bad, but when it came, but she, like changed tune and was like, telling me to watch. But I'm a cheerleader for for no reason. When I was a high schooler, so she they they believed I was clear. Since I was obsessed with Xena like.

Yeah, that's fair.

I have a four year old.

And I'm like. Yeah, you kind of got me there. But your experience reminds me of a couple other other ones, including Jeanette Winterson. I don't know if you've read a orange is not the only fruit or written on the body, which I was. I was made to read in college, which was fabulous. One of my favorite ones I had to read.


But she wrote oranges aren't the. Only fruit and she. Is she lived in England and had an extremely was adopted an extremely religious family and had the experience of, you know, finding the books that she loved then eventually and hiding them under her bed until her bed started to increase and height.

Oh my gosh.

And of course. And she lived. They had an out house. They lived with an out house. Like that was. The their lifestyle. And then her mom. Found it and burned all her books. But happy ending. She went to Oxford and became a, you know, highly well publicized writer. And she recently wrote a A. So here's the real story of my life, not my fictionalized owners aren't the only fruit. And the title is why be happy when you could be normal, which is what her mother told her when she came out as gay. Like, Oh my, but yeah, the the ability to read a book is a little bit easier to I I think to talk behind another book, for instance, and I've seen. I've heard from teachers that this is a problem too, because students don't want to be seen with some of the books they want to read, so they'll just grab them. Then teachers don't have the books in their class anymore. That's another reason I kind of hesitate. I want to start a library, you know, ADHD goals, but I want to start a queer library because I've started to accumulate so many of these and. I worry about the aspect of getting books back. Like you said, I was so impressed that you're like, yeah, I'll buy this for you with the budget. Because I don't want. To call people to ask for books back.

I've learned the.

Hard way like and I you know I I give grace to the students who have walked off my books and not return them. One of them is now a coworker, though when? I give her. A hard time regularly and I was like, where's my copy of pedagogy of the oppressed with? All of my notes in it that I left you right because just like that's so easy to access and in retrospect.

I should have just like thought differently. But I was just like, yes, please read.

This it's so good and I. Four or five years later, I still don't have my book, so I've learned the hard. Way not to do that.

I I I read that for me as a like a neuroatypical and and for me as a ADHD tendency of Oh my God, I love this. You should have it. Like just just handing it to people and I just. I have other friends that have done the same thing to me and is like are you? Are you sure you want to give away something that? You seem to. Bring you so. Much joy and as I've age aging, I'm learning similar as you.

Yes, if it's. If it's a book that I read and enjoyed, but it doesn't have any of my notes in the margins, then I might be more receptive to lending it to you. But sometimes I I used to be. I used to think it was blasphemous to right in books and mark them up, and now I feeling much more comfortable with that and doing a lot of that. So they're they're more than just. Copies of books. At this point, they're very much mine and I'd like to keep them, but I definitely was the high school student who I can't remember the author, but there's a book called. I think it's. She's come undone. That feels possibly correct. A there's a. Clear narrative in there. I'd be interested to reread the book, but I was very, very compelled by this book because it was a fat queer narrative, which is also not, you know. Salient in any publishing in general.

Want to hear it?

Now, so I definitely took that. Book home do. I know where that book is now. No, I'm pretty sure I still have it though, but I also feel like I got really out of fiction after, like high school. I was big into fiction. Young adult fiction, sci-fi, fantasy when I was in high school. And then I got to college. And read what I was required to read for classes and got a bit out of reading in general because I was so involved as a student leader and then went to grad school. And had to read what I had. Read for grad school.

Point of order. How? So you were so involved as a student leader. How much did your grade point suffer for this? You don't have to have to say that, but but did you? Did you get the? I always warned people after I went through and I said just expect your GPA to go down a. Whole point if you become. A president? Just expect it.

I feel like I. Held off decently, but I definitely do.

Dropped a class or two before it got to the point where it would have impacted my GPA so you know a preemptive strike to not have that happen. It did cost me my woman gender, sexuality studies minor because I was one class away from getting it and decided that the course load I had the same semester. I was hosting Mumble talk as a student in Kansas City. I didn't understand the class and I was like, I don't know why this is cross listed under this minor and it's it's it's too much. So I dropped it which meant I didn't get my minor but. I did plenty. I I don't feel like I lost out on any information. I just didn't get the, you know, official documentation that I got that minor. But yeah, I've definitely been. I'm pretty sure I walked away with some books from the Rainbow Lounge. In fact, they're probably right behind me.

On my own.

So like you know. It's just a thing, but like, you know the.

The acquisition of the Queer Books, right? If that's what I needed to take away from that physical, literally take out of that space at the time. I'm assuming there was a really valiant and like strong reason and I've I feel pretty confident I've paid it forward enough times and maybe that's the karma I've received. Not getting some of my own books.

Yeah, just keep keep passing. Along that's that's the hope at least.

Yes, yes, I could just talk about books all day, but that's not really the vibe I also feel. Like I should ask.

Tell you why comics are better or not better, but why?

How many by you?

There's this like the as I say, you know, the gravitation towards Clear Comics, there's a couple of reasons. One is the improvement of visual literacy. It you know, forces, it doesn't force. But as you're reading, you're experiencing both the text. And the images and the expressive expressions that are supposed to convey things to you, which I think is very educational, especially in a day and age when. And when we don't have as much face to face conversations and communications, I think it helps with like it does help with the. People learning interpersonal skills and like understanding facial expression for instance, and noticing things that should be noticed on a on in body language that I think is is a big one.


And then there's the the speed at which you can read a comic. Most comics most comics. If you are a best enough reader, you can read in about. A day or two. With like focus, you don't have to, but that's that's my approach because I like to read things quickly in big chunks. Hyper Fixation, I guess. And given that we have so much other other media coming at us, especially short form media comics really help with that. And I had, I learned from it. A book called Reader Come Home by Marianne Wolfe. She's a dyslexia researcher that essentially. We are training our brains to only be able to focus for short chunks at a time with our essentially our social media reading and comics kind of fit the the like thread. That needle of it's still a long form form, like a long form text, and it has a narrative that. Goes from point A to point B. But the each chunk of content is pretty. Short and it's. All interest visually interesting. Every hopefully every panel, so that matches with the attention stands of our readers and also too long don't read if you don't read that book. It's an audio book. You can fix the problem of not being able to focus on. Books that you used to be able to focus on by practicing. That's just the the trick, and supposedly you'll feel it click in your head the same way as when like you learn how to read. And you feel it? Click in your head. So that and that's that's an experience. My echo babe also depicted when he he was flexing and taught himself to read Harry Potter so because you know everyone all the queers loved Harry Potter before Harry Potter hated all the queers. That was also when I was banned from reading. That was the only book I wasn't allowed to read. Harry Potter because of the Satanic influence that it was going to get.

I know what? My God.

But then my dad read it and he.

Liked it so fine, the tables have turned.

I guess I don't. I don't have the last point is that I just, they're pretty, they're very pretty. They're art and they're you're supporting the current the like the artists of our current generation. And like every single panel is a painting.

Yeah, I'm, I mean, I'm sold. It's just not been like I said, kind of a. Genre, I guess that I've much spent time with, but there's a graphic novel version of I think parable of the sewer. That I've had on my wish list for a long time as kind of a starting place because I'm obsessed with Octavia Butler and that you know, sci-fi Rome. On my list. So I think that would be my my step in but. Yeah, I'm definitely going to jot down all of these recommendations after we listen to. This recording and send them out.

Say I'll I'll confess I haven't read my copy of of the of the comic version of Parable of the Sower. I haven't finished it. The book is the book is so good. Like, that's the thing. The book is really good. Yeah, that's the one that almost converted me into into. The earth seed.

Like there's no, there's no question. I'm I'm all in.

OK, what are some of your like big hopes either for you personally with clear comic peddler or what are some things that you're hoping to see?

Here, more broadly, with like Queer Publishing, Queer Comics, queer narratives, queer stories, you know, what are some of your? Big hopes in the next. Time is fake. So what are? What are your, you know, big hopes and dreams with no expectation of linear time? Because that's not.

Fair, sure, sure. My big hope is to continue to be able to do this and I want to. I want to get a brick and mortar space where we can start actually have physical Hangouts and organize things again. It's just real hard to do that with a straight job as. Well, unfortunately, and that's that's it. Hopefully on the horizon like next year, I can get things together and I'm going to try try crowdfunding that at some like help find a way to do so. And then after that I I want to make like a queer comics like CAFE. Or Tea House, or like a space where you can grab a bite to eat and get like a nice warm drink and. Hang out that. 3rd and final goal like my my final form I'm hoping is like a queer Community Center, which in Michigan we have a lot of them. Actually, there's affirmations. There's sales center, there's the Grand Rapids Pride Center, so there's there's a fair number. But recently we lost common language in Ann Arbor as well as the out bar, so.


This area, I think is is needing more needing that again, but rent is high, so that's the the real challenge for everyone, everywhere. And then for Comic Publishing as a whole, I'm just hoping that that we don't get these. Like we don't have another comic code authority come in. Essentially, and have a ban on certain content because back this has happened before our way back when we had little floppy trade paperbacks. I'm saying the wrong words because that's not my my comic focus is usually books. But when we had the floppies the there was worried that they were sending children into doing drugs into going becoming prostitutes. And even to be coming at like joining the queer group Queer People Way back when. And so you got the comic codes authority saying that any comic sold at a newsstand had to have stamps saying that it didn't have smoking, drugs, prostitution, etcetera. That dampened a lot of the stuff that was. That that was kept and and published. And so I'm hoping we don't experience a similar thing here in the US because that would slow down our our Golden Age. I I guess I'd say. And I'm also hoping that we don't experience a the the cost of publishing is high and if they keep it keeps going up along with like. Shipping and whatnot. So a lot of comics are published in China. Well, if things don't go right with China, we will have more expensive comic books or less of. So there's those areas I worry about. But then I see presses like Power Magic Press and Iron Circus. Which Iron circus is in Chicago. And both of these are like queer and run by people of color it. So we have, we have some established printing presses doing the work that I really like so. We're in a good spot. We are in a good spot. We're in this like great Golden Age and my hope is that more people buy the books. So the authors get the money so they can keep making more books, and that those you know cycle can continue. And maybe after Mumble Tech I'm I wanted to do a panel like to describe what I did. Maybe some people could do similar in their states like I I want people who are in these places where we're getting these book bans to say, hey, wait, wait, wait, wait. All it takes is like maybe 100 or 200 bucks to to start this kind of business and start selling the. Stuff I love. I'm in. So that's that's what I'm hoping would happen.

Yeah, I love all of that. I love all.

Of that, I'm reminded of a.

Panel I watched with rivers. Solomon, Once Upon a time.

But probably like 2 or so years.

Ago I have no concept of how long ago it was, but it was. Pretty recent where they.

We're essentially talking.

About like their really complicated relationship with the publishing industry. And how they've. Been really contemplating like how do they step out of? Kind of that. Really rigorous and like competitive and difficult and expensive process just for the means of getting the stories they want. To put out there out. And I am obsessed with river Solomon's work, and I'm interested what that looks like, right. Like, what are those steps and what are the conversations that queer publishers and queer writers of any variety and queer illustrators can have about? How do we genuinely clear up the publishing industry so that it doesn't have to be this very specific? Prescribed, streamlined process of getting these stories out there because it's not. It's just what is the most familiar?

Yeah, that's the problem.

To be continued, yeah.

But I I was just going to say it just the the the publishing industry expects a comic to come at the speed of a book, and that is not the publishing history of books. If they're publishing comics, some of them have expected the book the Comics to be. Written, drawn, inked, colored, and final like the the the letter is all done by one person at the speed at which an author can. Write a book and that's just not not feasible. Most comics take it like a full one takes at least two years, usually, unless you're, you know, damaging your your. Your carpal, carpal tunnel experience.

That is fair. Alright, Emily, do you have any?

For folks listening before we wrap completely. Wrap this up.

I don't think so, RB. I really love the podcast and I got this one and and I think gender reveal are my my 22 main listens right now.

Yes, I love gender reveal.

So thank you all.

Yes, what has been your favorite episode?

Of either of those, but obviously I'm selfish and curious. What has been one of your favorite? Take the last bite episodes or conversations so far. Besides this one, obviously.

Putting on the spot because of because of because of names. Yeah, yeah, this. This is clearly my favorite. Conversation. No, no.

That's fine. That's probably fine.

Gender reveal had an author who wrote about the the transgender child. I think that's the title of her book, and that podcast was fantastic. She goes into how essentially, children are marginalized, class treated as property and kind of hits a lot of really important, important points that we need to experience now. And including the fact that this bathroom flight, we should remember that 100 years ago there wasn't sex segregation in any bathroom cause that plumbing was expensive. So we created sex segregation in bathrooms and. As my experience at like the club has shown me, we don't really need to do that. So if we got rid of gendered bathrooms, I think it would serve both girls, boys and other in general. Because I remember when I was little like a lot of bullying incidents for boys happened in the bathroom, but that might not happen if they were. They had their friends that could just be in. The bathroom with them. But that's the whole nother tangent, blah blah blah. But the the history of the transgender child is the book to read about. Like Ohh there we've existed forever and that author is pop like interview on Gender Reveal is the one to listen to.

I will definitely check that out. That sounds good.

Sorry my my brain is a little scrambled. I guess but.

I'm right on track. With you totally good, we will link. All of these references, and if you have other book recommendations which I'm.

Sure you do.

We can link them in the show notes and make this huge nice book recommendation. List for sure.

Here folks on the map that was. It your first episode.

With Charlie from everywhere is clear the map. Yes, that was a really fun one. I'm glad you liked that one. Yes, I really appreciate. Being able to talk to them, yes. Yeah, this has been really fun and exciting and I'm really excited to hang out with you in Lexington in November. Yeah, I'm coming. Yes. Of course you are, yes. Amazing, hoping that we are. I'm really excited about kind of the.

Growing of the maker.

Market, we've already got some folks who didn't join us last year that have signed up already. So I'm really curious. How we're going? How it's going to play out this year, but appreciative to you for being part of our natural maker market and coming back because that that gives me a little.

Bit of affirmation that we're doing something. A little right?

So appreciate that a lot appreciate you spending time talking about all of your you know. Your comic nerdiness. With me, I'm really excited to put this out for folks. Too, so yeah.

Thank you, RB. Thanks for having me on the podcast. And you know anyone who listens.


Our inbox is open for all of your insight, feedback, questions, boycotts, memes and other forms of written correspondence. You can contact us at lastbite@sgdinstitute.org. This podcast is made possible by the labor and commitment of the Midwest Institute for Sexuality and Gender Diversity staff. Particular shout out to Justin, Andy and Nick for all of your support with editing, promotion and production. Our amazing and queer as fuck cover art was designed by Adrienne McCormick.