For a lot of LGBT-identified people comics, science fiction, and fantasy were their first experiences being transported to faraway worlds where being different meant being special.
The stories of being chosen for a greater purpose or discovering hidden powers within mirror the experiences so many of us have coming to terms with our identities and coming out to loved ones. As much as queer people may identify with Marvel’s Inhumans or DC’s meta-humans, the number of actual gay, bi, and trans characters is relatively small. Sfé R. Monster is working to change that one panel at a time.
Beyond is an anthology of 26 comics collected from 18 writers and illustrators all featuring queer characters whose sexualities and gender identities are as plainly stated as their super powers. In an interview with io9 Monster, who’s editing the book, explained that a shared desire to see queerness normalized in sci-fi inspired him to spearhead the project.
“Sci-fi and fantasy have infinite potential for all sorts of diversity,” he said. “[I]t has always baffled me that these stories that accept aliens and magical dragons without question still struggle when it comes to featuring anything more than cisgender, heterosexual casts of characters.”
The stories featured in Beyond wouldn’t be the first comic books to feature queer characters travelling to fantastic lands, but Monster and his co-editor Taneka Stotts set out to do something different with the anthology. Often times queer (especially trans) characters are depicted as tragic or their identities are made out to be more magical than their surroundings. Beyond, Monster explained, wasn’t interested in those stories.
“When we put out the open call for submissions for Beyond I stressed that we were looking for diverse stories, and, to my absolute joy, that is something that everyone contributing a story to the anthology embraced with verve,” said Monster. “The thing I love most about Beyond is that giving people the go-ahead to create stories about diverse genders and sexuality gave them a space to tell stories that many of them have always wanted to tell, but felt there was no market or audience for.”