Cyborgs, Porn Stars, and Warlords: Tracy Queen Has it All

Cyborgs, Porn Stars, and Warlords: Tracy Queen Has it All

Tracy Queen opens with a disclaimer that makes it clear that this book is not for some very specific people. Specifically, no homophobes, sexists, misogynists, people under 18, xenophobes, transphobes, trolls, fatphobes, or the sexually repressed allowed. Published by Oneshi Press, Tracy Queen promises to be "an epic, pulpy-sci-fi adventure about one woman’s journey from

Tracy Queen opens with a disclaimer that makes it clear that this book is not for some very specific people. Specifically, no homophobes, sexists, misogynists, people under 18, xenophobes, transphobes, trolls, fatphobes, or the sexually repressed allowed. Published by Oneshi Press, Tracy Queen promises to be “an epic, pulpy-sci-fi adventure about one woman’s journey from repression to empowerment … with an army of clones, a battle against the patriarchy, and a zillion sex toys along the way!” There are also cyborgs and a talking raccoon sidekick. What more could I ask for?

The first part of Tracy Queen’s story, which will include extra guest art and goodies, is currently on Kickstarter until November 22nd, but you can learn more about Queen at her very own blog or on social media. There, you can learn all about the sex positive  feminist adult entertainment icon, biochemist, martial arts practitioner, and warlord before reading about her adventures in the graphic novel. Illustrated by Jayel Draco and written by Lynsey G.Tracy Queen is a fun, funny, sexually liberating, and empowering romp.

I had a chance to chat with the creators about their project and learn a bit about how Tracy Queen came to be the “complex, brilliant, difficult young woman” she is. 

Lynsey: Were you into comics before? What made you decide that a graphic novel was the best way to tell Tracy Queen’s story?

I’ve never been very caught up in comic book fandom, but I grew up on Calvin and Hobbes (I still re-read those collections pretty regularly) and X-Men. I came away from those with a desire to write stories that were funny, but which also grappled with big topics around what it means to be human, which is a big part of Tracy Queen.

Tracy Queen, as both a book and a character, coalesced around two different things: One was my ongoing work as a journalist focused on feminism and pornography. The other was someone I knew in real life, whose life was so intense that it seemed like fiction to begin with. Their very real adventures gave me a vision of an outsized character who simply had to be represented visually. The story, with all its adventures, outfits, twists, turns, and ridiculousness, wouldn’t be complete without illustrations, so I knew it was destined to be a graphic novel.Tracy Queen (Oneshi Press, 2018)

Can we see bits and pieces of yourself in the character of Tracy Queen?

Absolutely! Although I based Tracy initially on someone I knew, she grew and changed as time went on. I think that my influence on Tracy probably made her less glamorous and more down to earth than I originally imagined her; it’s tough to spend that much time with someone without rubbing off on them.

I thought that I knew where the story was going and what would happen along the way, but as the character deepened, she ended up making a lot of decisions that I didn’t necessarily like or agree with. But, as a writer, when something you’re writing takes on a life of its own like that, you shut up and take dictation!

Then again, I thought that I knew where the story was going and what would happen along the way, but as the character deepened, she ended up making a lot of decisions that I didn’t necessarily like or agree with. But, as a writer, when something you’re writing takes on a life of its own like that, you shut up and take dictation! So Tracy has really evolved into her own, unique person.

As it turns out, the character I identify with most, personality-wise, is Nikola, Tracy’s best friend. Who knew a talking raccoon with addiction issues would be so much like me?

Describe the audience you want this book to reach.

I guess it’s silly to say “everyone,” but a girl can dream! Truly, however, I’ve spent the past decade writing about sexuality, and particularly sex work in the form of pornography. As a woman and as a feminist, I’ve been enormously gratified to see the conversation about these topics vault forward during that time, to a point where we’re now having meaningful dialogue about feminism and sex work in the media.

However, these topics remain somewhat cloistered and restricted to liberal bubbles. And even those conversations often maintain a kind of perceived delineation between the “them” of those who do sex work with the “us” of those who do not. The “them” is sort of mythologized and seen as “other.” But if my work as a journalist, interviewing folks who work in pornography and other forms of sex work, has taught me anything, it’s that there’s literally no difference between a sex worker and anybody else. Their stories are our stories.

Furthermore, there’s a pervasive idea in media that actual sex can’t be just a part of a larger story. That media must either be explicitly sexual or utterly devoid of sex. I think that’s silly; in real life, sex is a part of our ongoing stories. Sex can often influence or even change a story as it unfolds. I’m trying to sneak the idea that sex is a part of life into a graphic novel that feels over the top, but is still making a whole lot of points.

Sure, there are cyborg-clones, talking animals, and a wildly outsized concept of how much money you can make as an indie porn star, but Tracy’s story isn’t about the over-the-top trappings. It’s about her journey from repression to empowerment, and about how for her, sexuality is what opens her eyes to her own potential.

I’m hoping that a graphic novel will make this story—about a woman of color who also happens to be a sex worker—relatable to a larger audience. It’s important that folks outside of the usual bubbles go on this journey with Tracy and start to consider these issues without being lectured to. Sure, there are cyborg-clones, talking animals, and a wildly outsized concept of how much money you can make as an indie porn star, but Tracy’s story isn’t about the over-the-top trappings. It’s about her journey from repression to empowerment, and about how for her, sexuality is what opens her eyes to her own potential.

There have been a few raccoon sidekicks in the past, from Rocket Raccoon to Meeko. Where does Nikola fit in the club?

It’s a pretty fantastic club! And I think the more members it has, the merrier! Nikola actually is a low-key fan of raccoons in pop culture; he sort of idolizes Rocket. The thing about raccoons is that they’re so universally understood to be fun, mischievous, smart-as-heck rascals, so they make fabulous sidekicks. (Although I prefer to think of Nikola as Tracy’s BFF more than as a sidekick; he’s got quite a back story and a character arc of his own.)

As far as it goes, however, I had no idea that Rocket existed when I started working on Nikola. Originally, Tracy had a pet ferret, but I realized early on that for the character to work, he would need thumbs. And that narrowed it down to either a monkey or a raccoon. I’ve never been a big fan of monkeys, and anyway, how would a Brooklynite end up with a macaque? No, it had to be a raccoon. Honestly, Nikola works much better as a raccoon than a monkey.

Jayel: How did you come up with the designs for the main characters? Did you work closely with Lynsey and/or did you have free reign to play around?

I did work closely with Lynsey and did many sketches that will never see the light of day, most of which don’t even exist anymore. Some aspects of some of the characters she was very specific about, but mostly she allowed the visuals to be interpreted. Lynsey actually gave me a refreshing amount of room to experiment, and in the end, we came to what I think is an amalgamation between our visions. There were certainly a lot of brainstorming sessions about who Tracy and these other characters are, people who remind us of them IRL, etc. For the first eight-page sample, we hired a model for reference who Tracy is now largely based on. The model was actually quite athletic, into parkour and martial arts. It was important to us that Tracy looks like a real person who had been training her whole life.

Characters do have a way of refining and polishing themselves as one works on them. However, there’s even a huge difference between the character from our first eight-page sample to our second eight-page sample, as my stylizations have become more consistent. Now that we’re deep into the story proper, we can expect a continuity in the character designs, apart from me leveling up as an artist as I go.

Tracy’s armour is distinctively unique, while also reminiscent of other warrior women in the comic industry. What were some of the influences in that design?

The idea that she can be wearing what is essentially lingerie while commanding an army as an entirely self-possessed and empowered person is very important to Tracy’s character.

Tracy’s armor was a big topic for character development. It plays with a rather incendiary topic in pop culture at the moment. There’s the “sexy woman barbarian” trope, which is being dismantled for ineffective “boob armor” on characters that are meant to be utilitarian warriors, while conversely there’s the sex-negative approach where any female character who isn’t covered wrists to ankles isn’t to be taken seriously. Enter Tracy, a porn star who is also a warrior. In short, her armor is a fashion statement. The idea that she can be wearing what is essentially lingerie while commanding an army as an entirely self-possessed and empowered person is very important to Tracy’s character. It’s also an incredibly cheeky move on the creators’ part.

In terms of actual pop culture icon influences to the design of her armor, I’d says there’s a little bit of Azula from Avatar: The Last Airbender in there, some general sensibilities of Chinese lamellar armor, as well as some Japanese Samurai armor concepts. Of course, Tracy, being a modern American woman, was influenced by a plethora of cultures—including pop culture—when making her armor, so I tried to keep all of that in mind when designing the armor that she makes for herself.

Catch Tracy Queen and her friends on Kickstarter now.

Wendy Browne
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