Web Analytics Made Easy - Statcounter

"Queer 201": Blue Delliquanti crafts sci-fi comics with rich context

Share this Post:
Image courtesy of the artist
Image courtesy of the artist

With their new title Adversary soon to debut on an exciting platform, graphic novel artist and author Blue Delliquanti spoke with me over Zoom about Queer comics, the scene's history, and their own influences and inspirations.

Delliquanti is best known for their science fiction webcomiseries O Human Star, which follows the Queer inventor of the modern robot as he is resurrected in a synthetic body and must learn to reintegrate himself in a world where robots and humans live side by side.

Delliquanti started O Human in early 2012, right when webcomics were "getting really big," they said. At that time, a lot of other Queer comics were emerging online and flourishing from circulation on blogs during the "peak Tumblr era." O Human concluded in 2020, after eight years of various awards and nominations.

Since the comic's debut, Delliquanti said, the graphic novel industry has evolved even further; it often seeks talent in the realm of web comics, but with the rise of crowdfunding sites like Patreon, creators might not even need a publisher to make a living or make it to print.

Big publishers have also recognized that there's a market for Queer comics, said Delliquanti, with somewhat of a catch. While publishers are no longer "hostile" to such ventures in their experience, they have different expectations of readers than creators do.

Delliquanti argued that many publishers expect readers, especially young ones, to want fiction with "Queer 101" topics — simple, feel-good narratives with "all the edges sanded off," with characters conflicted about, say, being attracted to the people of the same gender.

Many creators, however, expect readers to want the messier "Queer 201" concepts, like how to be yourself while holding down a job.

Delliquanti's work has been praised for its sophisticated treatment of LGBTQ narratives for a reason: "I consider myself first and foremost a science fiction person," Delliquanti said, "but it's through a Queer lens." Their influences include the stories of Ursula K. LeGuin, Neil Gaiman's graphic novel series The Sandman, and Mike Mignola's Hellboy — hardly sources most would consider soft or "sanded down."

Image courtesy of the artist  

Upcoming novella is a departure
Delliquanti's upcoming graphic novella is a departure from their sci-fi roots. Titled Adversary, it takes place in their hometown of Minneapolis in 2021, during the very real pandemic of that year. Though its genre is realistic fiction, Delliquanti implied that it would have the same richness of context as their previous works, given that the local politics of the Minnesota city have been under a national spotlight since the George Floyd protests that began in 2020.

Like O Human, Adversary will be published online, but not in a traditional webcomic fashion. Instead, in October, it will debut at the annual ShortBox Comics Fair, alongside pieces from creators around the world.

ShortBox has emphasized indie cartoonists bringing "where they come from" to their work, Delliquanti said, and the event sure to feature a number of Queer creators. The fair will be open to all, via an internet connection that month, with exclusive debuts. Afterward, exhibitors will be free to publish their works as they please.

As for other recommendations, Delliquanti steered me toward Iron Circus Comics, which is known for the "ladycentric porn" comic anthology series Smut Peddler and its wide diversity of stories and artists. They also mentioned Diskette Press, a Detroit-based micropress that prints and sells everything from antifascist T-shirts to graphic novels about Trans girls.

You can find out more about Blue Delliquanti's work at their website, https://www.bluedelliquanti.com/. To be one of the first to read Adversary and other indie comics, check out https://www.shortboxcomicsfair.com/ in October.