Queer Art & Artists? Yes, Please!

Happy Pride Month!

For Pride month, I decided I wanted to branch out and do something about queer art instead of queer books, prompted by my love of the cover art for “Uncommon Charm.” Below is a small list of some of my favorite queer artists whose work I have followed for a good while.

Artist #1: St. Marlowe Lune

Marlowe is the artist behind the cover art for this months book, “Uncommon Charm!” I have followed their work for many years and am simply in love with their style, which is frequently history and folklore inspired. They also provided the art for the fantastic epistolary story project, “Sealed with Honey,” which is set in the 19th century. Their own projects include “Lo Conteureuse,” a collection of queer and trans fairy tale stories; “Anise & the Devil,” a graphic novel inspired by the fairy tale “Vasilissa the Fair”; and the Merry Blackbird Postcard Society, where you can get original art postcards sent to you on a quarterly or monthly basis. I am a quarterly backer for MBPS and I really cannot emphasize enough how much fun it is, each shipment, in addition to the postcard, you get access to digital behind the scenes things and a curated playlist that fits that month’s theme. Very fun, highly recommend.

Artist #2: Fliff Gahris

Fliff is an Ohio-based illustrator and jewelry-maker who made a name for themself pre-pandemic on the convention circuit under the name Studio Fliff. They have recently rebranded their store under the name Eight Tides and have returned to in person selling at local markets as well as rebooting their online store. In addition to prints, they specialize in sticker and vinyl decal designs, laser-cut wood pins, resin earrings, wire wrapped rings, embroidered patches and more. Their newest products include a mushroom person keychain and a set of pride potion bottle stickers. I am personally, very deeply in love with every single food themed item they have (the Summer and Pink Magic sticker packs have some really good ones).

Their online store selection is currently a touch limited due to the recent reboot following its move from Etsy, but it is ever growing and Fliff is presently open for commissions as well, if you want to head over to their website and check out their gallery.

Artist #3: Greer Stothers

Perhaps best known in internet spheres for their cats, Pangur and Grim, and their fantastic enamel pins, of which I own just… so many, Greer is an accomplished illustrator who specializes in risograph illustration and has done work for museums, books, magazines and a variety of other projects, such as a limited edition risograph print and set of enamel pins for The Magnus Archives podcast. They are also currently working on a flower breeding game called Normal Orchid Game. You can find prints, pins and other merch at their shop. Some of my favorite items include the fantastical fetus pins and the responsible pest pins. The current available pin preorders are memento mori pins featuring extinct flowers and animals and animal pins based on various poems, including Wild Geese by Mary Oliver, a personal favorite of mine.

Artist #4: Erik/Abprallen

Abprallen is probably my favorite place to go for queer pins, both badges and enamel pins alike. After I got my first set of pins, I kind of forgot about the store for a bit, until I saw a Tumblr post about the kickstarter for the first set of pastel goth pride pins in 2020. I immediately backed and have been an avid follower ever since, jumping on the kickstarter for the second set of pastel goth pride pins the same day it went live. The trans pride pins from both sets are some of, if not the best trans pride pins I’ve ever seen. There’s a particular sort of vicious euphoria in them that really speaks to me and how I experience my own gender. My favorite pins are Sorry You’re Cis, Get Well Soon, Trans Healthcare, Now! and Heteronormativity is a Plague. If pins aren’t your jam, the designs are now available as stickers and shirts too.

If you enjoy what I do and would like to see more, please consider buying me a Kofi or supporting me on Patreon

Dates: An Anthology of Queer Historical Fiction Stories edited by Zora Gilbert & Cat Parra

Dates Volumes I and II, featuring one (1) good cat butt.

As a queer historian and fiction lover, the Dates anthologies are basically literary catnip for me. The art and writing in these volumes is absolutely exceptional. It is clear that the authors and editors put an immense amount of love and care into producing the works in these books. 

While the stories in these two volumes hardly shy away from the difficulties that present themselves in queer life, the stories are first and foremost, uplifting. These are not stories about the sadness and tragedy of being queer, they are here to bring happiness. More than just that, in a world where we are inundated with tragedy porn from cisgender heterosexual creators, happy queer stories by queer creators is incredibly important.

Volume one runs into some of the standard issues that a first volume can have. It’s a little rough around the edges, but it makes up for those rough edges time after time with the content it provides. Starting out with a comic set in prehistoric times, volume one of Dates really does have something for just about everyone, there are women who love women and men who love men, trans people of all sorts, asexuality, everything.

Volume two takes this even further, the few rough edges that I found in volume one are not present in volume two at all. It’s a longer book, which means it has room to fit even more than the first volume did. This is particularly noticeable in two stories. “The Ibex Tattoo” and “Intersexions.” 

“Intersextions,” you might be able to intuit, is a comic about an intersex person. Having admittedly read the two volumes a couple months a part, I do believe this was the first instance of a story featuring an intersex person in Dates. The importance of “The Ibex Tattoo,” comes from a different place. The point of view character suffers from some sort of chronic pain. It is as much a story about the place of disability in a relationship and a community as it is about the lesbian relationship this character is part of.

Before I wrap this up I want to talk briefly about themes. There aren’t super explicit overarching themes in each of the Dates volumes. There’s no subheader saying “Love” or “Acceptance” or anything like that, but as I read through the second volume and reflected on my reading of the first a few things popped into my head. The first volume, in my reading, seemed to hold stories that were particularly involved in seeking acceptance, either self-acceptance or acceptance from others and the second volume seemed to deal more in stories of transformation, of making choices, of change. Now this is by no way concrete, as I learned when trying to sort my own writing into categories, queer stories, by definition, tend to defy the ability to be categorized, but it’s something to consider if you’re trying to figure out which of the two volumes you might prefer, if you’re only looking to get one of the two.

You can find both volumes in both print and ebook form here.

ALSO: The Kickstarter for Volume 3 is live! So support it for more top tier queer content!!!

No snaps this time.

The Mincing Mockingbird: Guide to Troubled Birds by Matt Adrian

[Edit: Originally published on April 2, 2016]

If you’re on tumblr, you’ve probably seen pictures of the art from this book, but there’s more to the book than just art. There are little stories that go along with some of the pictures. They’re quite funny, though bloody at times.

I love the way it’s set up like it should be an actual used field guide. Despite being a hardcover book with no dust jacket. The cover is given the appearance of a having a worn dust jacket, and when you open it, it mimics a library book. with stamps and a place for a sign out card.

For as much as I loved the book there was some unpleasantness in the form of anti-Native American sentiment and a trans-misogynistic joke. One of the stories, is framed as a journal entry from 1842 about a white man who uses his chicken to kill the “Indians” who keep coming onto his property. Now I’m white, so I can only speak so much on the matter, but even for a book that relies on dark humor there are plenty of other ways a bloodthirsty chicken could be portrayed.

The trans-misogynistic joke was one of the unfortunately run of the mill, “it was a woman who was actually a man!” jokes. Intended to be funny, but just not. I had been very excited to read this book but that kind of, well made me feel a little bitter. 

What’s my recommendation? I’ve seen a bunch of the images floating around online as well as some that aren’t in the book (that’s how I learned about the book). If you feel you can live without the stories, purchasing the book isn’t necessary. 

But if you want to it’s on Amazon here, as well as the Mincing Mockingbird website here