Reviews

Queering Comics: “Anything That Loves Anthology” Review

Anything That Loves Anthology

NW Press
Edited by Charles “Zan” Christensen

Featuring comics and illustrations by Adam Pruett, Agnes Czaja, Alex Dahm, Amy T. Falcone, Ashley Cook & Caroline Hobbs, Bill Roundy, Ellen Forney, Erika Moen, Jason A. Quest, Jason Thompson, John Lustig, Jon Macy, Josh Trujillo & Dave Valeza, Kate Leth, Kevin Boze, Leanne Franson, Leia Weathington, Lena H. Chandhok, Margreet de Heer, MariNaomi, Maurice Vellekoop, Melaina, Nick Leonard, Powflip, Randall Kirby, Roberta Gregory, Sam Orchard, Sam Saturday, Stasia Burrington, Steve Orlando, Tania Walker, and Tara Madison Avery & Mike Sullivan.

Anything That Loves Review

So … I’m Queer. I’m also super femme and in a committed relationship with a man. A handful of folks might be thinking:  but, Ashley, that doesn’t fit within my mental schema of how the world works! If you are with a man, aren’t you straight? Or did you finally pick a side after your “experimental phase” in college? So, do you have threesomes? Wait … what does “Queer” mean, anyway? [This is the part of the conversation where their head explodes].

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And then, one day, I stumbled upon this anthology. It revolutionized the way I think about my own sexuality and expression.

It’s important to understand that an individual’s sexuality and gender expression are different things, and that the power to identify their sexuality and gender is their own. We should all be empowered to explore and identify how we choose. For a while I identified as straight, then bisexual, and then pansexual, and then bisexual again–until I finally got so irritated by all the labels that didn’t actually resonate with my experience that I decided to float freely underneath the Queer identity umbrella. I’m still floating about–but am content in the fluidity of free-fall.

Anything that Loves is an anthology that explores the fluidity of sexuality, gender expression, and identity. Finally! Story after story of bi/pan/queer folks illustrating the frustration, pain, isolation, ridicule, joy, pleasure, and liberation associated with coming out as bi or queer in a world of binaries. Editor Charles “Zan” Christensen at NW Press felt compelled to create this anthology through Kickstarter to unite all members of the queer community and to “stop thinking of it as a VIP club with a litmus test required for entry.” This anthology challenges the notion of the gay/straight binary and affirms non-dualistic expressions of sex and love.

With an incredible mix of new writers and artists with veterans of the industry, there exists a wild variety in storytelling and illustration.

The anthology starts with “What it is is this,” Kate Leth’s bisexuality 101 that helps orient the reader to some useful definitions of sex/gender identity and expression. What I love about Leth’s style is that she manages to articulate very confusing issues with clarity and a sassy taco within the first few panels (it is literally a taco). She continues with six more page-length comics that alternate between shades of grey and full color to debunk common myths about bisexuality–using witty thought bubbles and a decent amount of illustrated cats to bring home the message.

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MariNaomi has a brilliantly affirming comic called “Mango,” in which she illustrates the first time she was sexually attracted to a woman. Simple and sensual, I reread this at least three times before I turned the page.

Another captivating piece was “Biped,” with story by Ashley Cook and Art and Puns by Caroline Hobbs. The artwork is soft and delightful, using an underwater bar with merepeople, sea creatures, and bipeds to delve into the great mysteries of sexuality and self-acceptance.

Lena H. Chandhok’s “not-so-cautionary tale” of how Comics Made me Queer, was witty and fun. Sailor Moon, Alison Bechdel and Erika Moen serve as initial inspirations into a life of comics and questioning her sexuality. My favorite panel that captures part of my own coming out phase is when she says to a man, “I’m … Bisexual?” And he replies, “Are you asking me?” Because sometimes it just “takes a while to get used to saying it out loud.”

I could pretty much go on and on and on about each comic in the anthology, but you should probably just purchase it or borrow it for your own reading pleasure. Some other comics to look forward to include Ellen Forney’s soiree into sexual fetishes with each panel as a different personal ad to Kevin Boze’s assertion that bisexuals are the platypus of human sexuality, to Powflip’s latex self-love. In Anything that Loves, the reader is absorbed by compelling visual narratives of the pain and pleasures of intimacy.

Anything that Loves was created to inspire more unity and diversity in the Queer community and its allied communities. Although many stories are told from a white, Western, and at times academic perspective, ultimately, our curiosity as readers in exploring human expressions of sexuality is fed by rich and varied artwork and tales of lust and love.