Tab Kimpton has ninja’ed his way in at the last second, in true artistic fashion, and brings us a gem to kick off Transgender Awareness Week. Not books, but comics! Comics are often leading the way where books fail when it comes to diversity, and transgender rep is no different. Here are Tab’s top five webcomics with transgender or non-binary characters.
Disclaimer: I have to admit I’m biased about Tab, because he does some absolutely brilliantly diverse work that feels effortlessly so. And he has a kickstarter for even more diverse work, details at the bottom of the article.
Now, on with the recs!
Coming out stories are something sorely needed in media, but that doesn’t mean it has to be the only kind of story available to read. Here is a short list of 5 of my favourite webcomics that go beyond that- giving trans people more than the victim, villain or butt of the joke story that we’re (unfortunately) used to.
Why webcomics in particular? Because that’s how I first learnt about trans being more than jokes in Mrs Doubtfire. As a new medium it’s got an amazing advantage over traditional publishing- you don’t have to prove to anyone except the readers that it’s a story worth telling. It’s no wonder these are leading the field in actually putting the T in LGBT.
So in no particular order, here are some of my favourites- and in true webcomic style all of them are free to read!
Sing the Moon Down
by Mister Loki
Sing the Moon Down is about a new witch in town who wants to help everyone- even the hot werewolf guy who he might be allergic to. There are great metaphors between the trans experience versus being ostracised as a werewolf, but generally it’s just cute as heck. There’s a bit of naked flesh due to a full moon transformation sequence so read with caution on your lunch break at work. This super sweet story comes in at just under 40 pages which makes it like a cheeky slice of feel good cake.
By Christian Beranek and Kelci Crawford
Validation is a slice of life strip about Ally, a transgender girl doing her best to live a fulfilling day-to-day life. I love the humour in this one- Ally is so upbeat and positive while still talking about things that she has to claw through on a day to day basis. What really got me though was how nerdy and true to convention life it is- Ally cosplays and does the convention circuit, which as a fellow comic artist and (semi retired) cosplayer hits some of my experiences in the head. As a quick warning this one doesn’t shy away from some of the language transphobic people use, but please don’t make that a deal breaker- Ally’s haters gonna hate attitude makes me feel like she’ll really conquer the world one day.
by Hamish Steele
Deadendia is a comedic horror comic set in a failing amusement park where (shock horror!) the haunted house is actually haunted. I sat down and read this one in the space of an hour (I’m a monster who rips through stories that took an artist months to draw in the space of minutes) and immediately backed the kickstarter for the trade paperback. I hate to compare things for review but it’s like Johnny the Homicidal Maniac married Gravity Falls and had LGBT babies that I just want to adopt and keep forever. The plot is strong with this one (and oh, what a beautiful ending!) and all mentions of Barney being trans are when it comes up in his day to day life, like struggling to breathe in a binder as he tries to prevent the end of the world with his pal Norma and his dog Pugsley.
O Human Star
By Blue Delliquanti
O Human Star is about an inventor called Alastair Sterling who wakes up 16 years after his own death in a andoid body his robot revolution helped create. Tracking down his old partner Brendan leads to even more questions though, especially as the young girl robot who lives with Brendan looks suspiciously like Al. This story just kickstarted its second volume and I am on tenterhooks for the end. The mystery is well executed and unfolds like Al and Brendan’s relationship, with the sci fi setting making an excellent backdrop for questions of both gender and our own mortality. This one gets a gold star from me and I couldn’t do a list without including it!
Rock and Riot
By Chelsey Furedi
Rock and Riot is a 1950’s school story about girl gangs and boy gangs, but as gay as you always wanted it. That’s what got me reading anyway, but I became a true convert when a non binary person showed up to the school and the two gangs had a fight over which gang they should be in. One of the girl gang used to be part of the boy gang too and the entire thing is just adorable beyond words while still getting to the crux of the issue.
These are some of my favourites but if you’re looking for more comics that have trans characters in them check out the trans tag on the LGBT webcomics tag packer (link https://tagpacker.com/user/lgbtwebcomics?t=trans)
Tab Kimpton is the author of Khaos Komix, an LGBT slice of life story about eight teenagers finding themselves as well as several other queer comics which deal with the deep pit which is gender. His latest book Minority Monsters is currently funding on kickstarter and ends this Wednesday. You can read his work on DiscordComics (http://www.discordcomics.com/) or find him on Facebook and Twitter