RI ComicCon Showcases The Expanding Inclusivity In Fiction
Options Magazine traveled to Rhode Island ComicCon, held from November 5 to 7 at the Dunkin Doughnuts Center, and discovered fairy godfathers, bad ass lesbians, and a trove of LGBTQ+ characters that writers at the convention had placed within the pages of their comics and fantasy novels.
The world of comics and fantasy has often been a place where those who may be considered the “other” can feel seen. Stories of mystical beings, mutants, and super-powered humans, who are often shunned by society create community and a lense for audiences to set aside preconceived notions and find a connection to the characters, and in turn, the people in their everyday lives.
A convention, or a “Con,” is a real world embodiment of these fictional environments, where fandoms of all kinds gather and support each other. Rhode Island Comic Con is one of our state’s yearly events that does just that!
The con did not take place in 2020, so fans and vendors alike were thrilled to take part in the 2021 RICC. Local and regional creators and artists share their work, and I had a chance to speak with a few whose stories truly embody the spirit of inclusivity with LGBTQ+ characters.
The Teenagers Guide to Surviving a Fairy Tale, written & Illustrated by Coral Isabella Aurora, is a whimsical comical adventure about nine teenagers who are cast into a fairy tale world by a wish gone wrong. Each of the nine characters have their own quirks and personalities that don’t quite mesh. This story has an underlying message of bullying awareness and travels through multiple fairy tales with twists and turns, including two fabulous Fairy Godfathers, who are partners, and own a Fairy Godfather Boutique! The dedication page of the novel states:
“Dedicated to everyone who needs a laugh.
To those who believe in magic.
To those who have felt lonely.
To anyone who has been bullied.
And to the amazing service dogs out there.
Also, this story is dedicated to you, dear reader”
The folks over at Black Caravan publish stories by a few creators with LGBTQ+ characters in them.
Swamp Dogs House of Crows, created by J.M. Brandt & Theo Prasidis is a tribute to exploitation horror, a genre both creators love, but acknowledge it’s lack of diversity and heart. The pair believe that chastity, sobriety, and heteronormativity aren’t virtue signals that need to be upheld, and that real people, good people, tend to be far more complex than that. With that in mind, they wanted to bring a lesbian romance to the forefront of horror.
When asked about the characters Brandt said “We wanted to create a sexy, self-assured, confident, and bold queer woman of color in Ayana; someone that would be as good a role model as any we have in a startlingly homogenous genre. And in Violet, we wanted a person who blossoms in the sunlight of her love -- revealing more depth and layers to the shy bookworm stereotype.” Prasidis added “they are two young women to look up to, you want to be them. Yes they're sexy, since this still reads as an exploitation piece and the genre's aesthetic references are all there, but their sexiness is positively empowering.”
Cherry Blackbird written and drawn by Joseph Schmalke and Murder Hobo! created by Joseph Schmalke and Jason Lynch are also published by Black Caravan.
Cherry Blackbird is about a rockstar, named Cherry Blackbird, that has to send seven demons to hell in order to save her own damn soul and the main character just happens to be a bad ass lesbian.
Murder Hobo! takes place in a realm where all the elves are gender fluid and use they/them pronouns. Jason Lynch, one of the co-creators, is also a member of the LGBTQ+ community.
Asmodeus the Gift of Lust (a Sinful Seven Novel) written by JC Brown and Lena Lane, is a story of the King of Demons who must mark human souls with the sin of lust to prove that “people are trash.” In doing so he tempts them with whatever their heart desires. He has the ability to appear to the viewer in any form, regardless of gender or sexuality in order to complete his task.
These stories are just a few of the many that are expanding inclusivity in fiction. Keep your eyes out for more stories by these wonderful creators!