Le Button and Aydin Kwan first met as fellow students the Masters of Library Science Program at the University of Washington. They got to know one another little by little, and realized they were the perfect partners for this. Thus their semester-long capstone project was born for their master’s program – the Queer Comics Database.
“Creating a database for queer comics had actually been on my mind for a long time,” Kwan said. “It was never something I pursued seriously, but it was the perfect type of project for a Capstone, and with our intersection of interests, [Button] was really the perfect partner for it.”
The process of discovering comics can be really intimidating, simply because of the sheer volume of comics out there. It’s even harder to search for comics with queer representation.
“There’s been a lack of dedicated resources for discovering comics with queer representation,” Kwan said.
That problem is exacerbated by comics publishing longtime exclusion of queer creators and characters, which has pushed many of those creators into independent publishing.
“It means that a lot of people who do work getting comics into the hands of readers, such as librarians and retailers, don’t know they exist,” Kwan explained.
The idea behind the databases process is simple.
“Basically, any time we’re made aware of a comic with queer representation—which could be because we stumbled across it on social media or in a bookstore, because we read an article about it, because it was recommended to us, etc.—we add it to a masterlist,” Kwan explained.
They also added a submission form where anyone can tell them about a comic. In the three weeks since the database launched, more than 200 comics have been submitted by readers alone.
Kwan and Button saw indie creators encouraging each other to submit which they loved, but had not expected.
“Not only does it put a lot more comics on our radar, but it gives us more accurate information where things like a character’s ethnicity are not obvious,” Kwan said.
One of their hopes is that librarians, booksellers and people searching for queer comics will be able to use the database to better diversify their collections and serve their patrons.
“Representation of diverse experiences is really important, both because it validates people who might otherwise feel invisible, and because it creates opportunity for people to empathize with experiences other than their own,” Button said.
They chose not to include information about the creators’ queerness in the Queer Comics Database.
“It’s something we had considered because we know it’s important to people, but it felt like an invasion of privacy to broadcast that rather than letting creators choose how and to what extent to come out,” Kwan explained.
Let’s Fox About It asked Button and Kwan what they would want everyone to kno wabout this project and it’s goals.
“I would want people to know that there’s a ton of awesome queer comics out there,” Button said.
“I second that. And whatever type of comics you like to read—whatever genre, whatever art style—there’s a queer comic for you,” Kwan agreed. “If this database can help connect a few people to their new favorites, then I consider it a success.”
The Queer Comics Database has already helped its creators find a few new favorites.
“I’d never read anything by Tillie Walden before we started working on this project, and I’ve really been blown away by her work,” Button said. “I’ve also really enjoyed being able to take a closer look at anthologies that feature queer content like the Beyond Anthologies, as through them, I’ve become aware of a lot of artists whose work I’m excited to follow in the future.”
What are your favorite queer comics? Tell us about it in the comments!
Better yet, tell Kwan and Button about them on their submission form!
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