Today on the site, Tegan O'Neil reviews Paige Braddock's Love Letters to Jane's World.
Suffice to say, Jane’s World was a bit of a trailblazer. When United Media picked up the strip in 2001 it was hailed as the first gay-themed work to receive distribution by a national media syndicate. The strip is far more humble in focus, if not execution, than such a consequential bit of trivia might have you believe. Jane’s World focuses on the love lives of its main cast with the same bald matter-of-factness that the residents of Apartment 3-G gather to discuss their fresh kills. That accounts for much of the charm. Braddock’s queer characters inhabit a world where their desires and needs are considered just as significant and just as worthy of fulfillment as anyone else’s. The unspoken premise remains that the strip and Braddock don’t and shouldn’t need to explain to their non-gay readers why or how they should care about gay people.
>If that seems obvious, imagine for a minute being gay and having literally every piece of mainstream media representation be ham-fisted tragedy porn written by people whose good intentions often mask the fact that they regard queer folk as exotic animals to be petted, pitied, and packed away to limbo once their Very Special Story Of Intolerance has been told. The joy at the heart of Jane’s World is the idea that there are actually places where gay people can just be themselves without having to justify their own existence to one another. That goes not just for the community inside the strip but the community of real-world readers who embraced the strip on account of seeing themselves reflected in its panels.
—The Guardian profiles Lisa Hanawalt.
She describes Coyote Doggirl as a “revenge fantasy”: the story sees Coyote being pursued because she maims a man while he assaults her. “The scene where she’s getting assaulted – or nearly assaulted – is not that sexy. And I think sometimes when we see these things in movies, they’re very sexualised and the female body is shown as this treasure that’s being pillaged,” she says. “And it’s kind of gross.”
Despite Hanawalt’s interest in women having control over their own narratives, she never wants her work to be didactic. “I never set out to make overtly political work where the moral is very clear. I think it should always be a little muddled. Even in this book, [Coyote] gets revenge on the bad guys. It is very violent, when she lashes back at her attacker. But I don’t think violence is the right answer. I think it complicates things for her.” The book’s original ending was going to be a bloodbath, but she toned it down. “That kind of represents who I am, and what I believe about the world, a little better,” she says. “So I changed it.”
—Over at Smash Pages, Alex Dueben talks to Ariel Bordeaux about the comics she's posting on Facebook.
My friend and mentee Anna Sellheim, who I got to know when she chose me as her advisor at the Center for Cartoon Studies, was doing Hourly Comics Day. In one of her strips she mentioned me and wished that I would do more comics and texted it to me. I happened to be home with my son who was sick and I felt weirdly motivated by that. Okay, I’ll accept the challenge. [laughs] It was already noon by the time I got the text and she said, just write down a bunch of notes and draw the comics later, so I did them all later that night and the next day.
—And the Washington Post covers Art Spiegelman's MacDowell Medal win.
“The increased cultural prominence of comic art and its once-wayward practitioners can largely be laid at the feet of a single artist: Art Spiegelman,” Pulitzer-winning author and MacDowell Colony chair Michael Chabon (“The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay”) said in a statement. Chabon and MacDowell Colony executives will present the medal.