Brought to Comic-Con@Home this year by Prism Comics (you can learn more about the nonprofit work that they do here), ‘LGBTQ Comics And Popular Media For Young People’ is a panel hosted by Marvel Animation’s Cort Lane. With a mixture of creators from both animation and physical media, Gina Gagliano is the publishing director at Random House Graphic and can attest to the, “amazing history of queer creators in comics publishing.” The mainstreaming of graphic novels, however, is something that’s been going on over the last fifteen years, and with it an interest in the “strong, personal stories” that come out of indie comics.
“You know, everyone gets into publishing — especially kids publishing,” Gina observes, “because they… want to make stories for kids that they didn’t see. …and you can’t help but look at all of us on this panel, and also the world all around us, and realize that queer stories are needed.”
Trung Le Nguyen’s The Magic Fish, which comes out in October, “is the first book that [Gagliano] ever bought at Random House Graphic.” Using, “a Princess Bride, story within a story, kind of structure,“ Trungles says the graphic novel, “started off as a couple of disparate projects,” and at the 8.5- and 40-minute marks you can see a few panels from The Magic Fish that I don’t think have been shown before
Goldie Vance’s Brittney Williams credits fan art and bringing her portfolio to comic conventions for helping her secure some of the projects she’s done and notes, for the character designs on Goldie Vance, that she decided, “this is Florida, especially like in the early 60’s, so I’m like okay, let’s just do everything that nobody wanted to see back then.”
Noelle Stevenson, who created Netflix’s She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, talks about the character of Catra and writing, “a lesbian romance that isn’t, like, super cute or like super fluffy all the time,” while Michael Vogel (who takes a moment to fan out over She-Ra) talks about the characters of Aunt Holiday and Auntie Loftie in My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and the challenges of, “trying to write, very succinctly, two women characters who are both aunts, who live together and making it clear that they are a couple and not sisters.”
Alex Sanchez discusses working with DC comics and his new YA graphic novel, You Brought Me The Ocean, which features Aqualad. “I think we’re all sort of trying to write beyond the… cleansed version of what queer love is,” Mariko Tamaki points out (Tamaki having recently won two Eisner awards for her book, Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me, with Rosemary Valero-O’Connell).
Stevenson admits she, “did not like romance as a kid … [but] it just turned out I hadn’t seen the version that spoke to me.” Vogel draws attention to the need, “not just [for] queer representation in animation in general… but even in the younger shows… because I think that the younger that we can get, where we see characters that are queer, characters that are different, characters that represent all the letters in the LGBTQ and plus. I think it doesn’t just normalize it for the queer kids out there, but I think it normalizes it for every kid out there and everyone grows up just feeling like this is the norm.”
Lane ends the panel with some specific questions on the art, like the color palette that was used by Julie Maroh in You Brought Me The Ocean and Trungle’s line work, which is, “meant to convey that the story that I’m telling has sort of the cadence of a really old, really beloved children’s fairytale.” Vogel also talks and shows some promo art for his upcoming series, Princess Alexander. Stevenson is working on a new show, too, but isn’t able to say much about it yet.
To rewatch the panel, it’s available on YouTube below: