No Straight Lines: Four Decades of Queer Comics, includes work by Alison Bechdel, Paige Braddock, Jennifer Camper, Diane DiMassa, Kris Dresen, Leslie Ewing, Joyce Farmer, Ellen Forney, Isabel Franc, Leanne Franson, Roberta Gregory, Michelle Grubin, Joan Hilty, Gina Kamentsky, Lee Marrs, Susanna Martín, Carrie McNinch, Erika Moen, Annie Murphy, MariNaomi, Andrea Natalie, Trina Robbins, Roxxie, Joey Alison Sayers, Ariel Schrag, Christine Smith, and Mary Wings
Queer cartooning encompasses some of the best and most interesting comics of the last four decades, with creators tackling complex issues of identity and a changing society with intelligence, humor, and imagination. This book celebrates this vibrant artistic underground by gathering together a collection of excellent stories that can be enjoyed by all.
No Straight Lines showcases major names such as Alison Bechdel (whose book Fun Home was named Time Magazine’s 2006 Book of the Year), Howard Cruse (whose groundbreaking Stuck Rubber Baby is now back in print), and Ralf Koenig (one of Europe’s most popular cartoonists), as well as high-profile, cross-over creators who have dabbled in LGBT cartooning, like legendary NYC artist David Wojnarowicz and media darling and advice columnist Dan Savage. No Straight Lines also spotlights many talented creators who never made it out of the queer comics ghetto, but produced amazing work that deserves wider attention.
Until recently, queer cartooning existed in a parallel universe to the rest of comics, appearing only in gay newspapers and gay bookstores and not in comic book stores, mainstream bookstores or newspapers. The insular nature of the world of queer cartooning, however, created a fascinating artistic scene. LGBT comics have been an uncensored, internal conversation within the queer community, and thus provide a unique window into the hopes, fears, and fantasies of queer people for the last four decades.
These comics have forged their aesthetics from the influences of underground comix, gay erotic art, punk zines, and the biting commentaries of drag queens, bull dykes, and other marginalized queers. They have analyzed their own communities, and their relationship with the broader society. They are smart, funny, and profound. No Straight Lines will be heralded by people interested in comics history, and people invested in LGBT culture will embrace it as a unique and invaluable collection.
Preview at Amazon link
Lee Marrs (born September 5, 1945) is an American comic book writer, animator, and one of the first women underground comix creators. She is best known for her comic book series, The Further Fattening Adventures of Pudge, Girl Blimp, which lasted from 1973 to 1978.
Marrs graduated from American University in Washington DC in 1967. Her best friend in college, Barbara Blaisdell’s father was comic book artist Tex Blaisdell, who invited her to spend her summers in New York assisting him on comic strip background work for such strips as Prince Valiant and Little Orphan Annie. She started using her middle name, Lee, due to the sexism she faced when searching for freelance gigs; after reviewing her mailed-in art samples, publishers would be shocked when she showed up for a meeting, having assumed she was male. She eventually landed a job at the CBS affiliate in Washington, where she worked on an Emmy Award–winning piece about the 1968 riots in D.C.
Marrs was a frequent contributor to underground comics and one of the “founding mommies” of the Wimmen’s Comix collective. She provided stories for Wet Satin, Manhunt, El Perfecto, and Gates of Heaven. Her parodies often substituted lesbians in place of heterosexual figures, as in feature strips in the long-running Gay Comix. In 1971 she co-founded the Alternative Features Service, which distributed news, features and comics to underground newspapers.
As one of Mike Friedrich’s Star*Reach regulars, she expanded her writing and art style to include serious fantasy fiction in Stark’s Quest, a study of ESP, politics, and social engineering. From this body of work, “Waters of Requital” is especially powerful. She created short futuristic graphic tales for Heavy Metal magazine, Epic Illustrated and Imagine magazine.
Marrs had a mainstream comics career at the same time, one of the few comic book creators to do so. She was introduced to the DC Comics editor Joe Orlando by Blaisdell. After a start with DC’s Plop!, Weird Mystery Tales, and House of Secrets, she created “Crazy Lady”, a series about growing up female, for Marvel Comics’ Crazy magazine. Most of her mainstream comics work was as a writer, in Wonder Woman Annual 1989, Viking Glory: the Viking Prince, and Zatanna: Come Together. She also wrote Dark Horse Comics’ series Indiana Jones and the Arms of Gold and Indiana Jones and the Iron Phoenix, stories drawn by Leo Duranona. For Blackthorne Publishing, she created Pre-Teen Dirty-Gene Kung Fu Kangaroos, a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles parody. She has drawn news art and cartoons for newspapers from the Washington Post to the Berkeley Barb; for magazines from the Saturday Review to Crawdaddy.
Her work has been reprinted in nine countries, including eight book collections in three countries. Lee received the Inkpot Award in 1982 and served as an Eisner Award judge in 2002.
Marrs has had another career, that of an animation director. An Emmy Award-winning art director, she has run Lee Marrs Artwork, a digital design and animation company for many years. She worked in 2D digital animation in the early 1980s, Her clients have included Disney/ABC, Apple Computer, IBM, Time Warner Inc., Children’s Television Workshop, Nickelodeon, Electronic Arts, and MTV. She is currently Multimedia Co-chair and head of the Animation Strand for Berkeley City College. In 2005, she earned her MA in Multimedia from California State University.
Since DC has brought back letter columns (and Tumblr is talking about that today), I figure it’s time to post this letter column excerpt that I’ve had in my drafts for a while.
I was leafing through my longboxes and I pulled out the 1993 Zatanna miniseries, written by Lee Marrs and edited by Kim Yale (this was also under Jenette Kahn’s watch as President and EiC). In the letters column of issue 2, a male fan wrote in applauding DC for their own Year of the Woman (17 years before Marvel’s) and commenting on the struggles for both female creators and female characters to get ahead in comics. Yale responded:
…[Y]ou have clearly elucidated how the status of women in our society is reflected in one aspect of its pop culture—the difficulty of female characters surviving in any viable and commercial form…and alluded to the concrete ceiling that exists in the field women keep bashing their heads against as they valiantly try to get work and express themselves creatively. You are absolutely correct in saying that comics with female lead characters need to work harder and be written and drawn in such a fashion that won’t insult a woman’s intelligence….
And how do we make this ongoing? By talking in the way all businesses comprehend— the wallet and the pocketbook. Tell your comic-book store manager that you’re willing to back and buy books by women in front of and behind the 4-color page. At conventions, chat with editors and the folks in marketing; during panels, ask why aren’t there more working in the field. Challenge questions and support those of us out here on the point on the drag. If enough people do that, then perhaps every year will become the Year of the Woman.
Accent theme by Handsome Code