remus jackson & F. Stewart-Taylor
Graduate students at the University of Florida
Despite raising pressing questions about representation and embodiment, trans autobiographical comics are understudied in both comics and trans studies. As comics theorists Elizabeth El Refaie and Hillary Chute have noted, the formal strategies for rendering the self inform the kind of “self” expressed on the page. Trans artists' presentation of self on the page can both describe the creator's phenomenological experience as subjects of coercive gender systems and the practices of resistance and hope that exceed these systems. Following José Esteban Muñoz, moments in these texts are utopian, proposing a future already germinating in the present where possibilities for gendered subjectivity exceed coercive systems. After a methodological overview, we’ll use a trans phenomenological framework to read two comics by Carta Monir. We gesture to possible uses for other texts, including the network of small press comics around Monir’s publishing company, Diskette Press.
Ayanni C. H. Cooper
English PhD Candidate at the University of Florida
The webcomic Agents of the Realm (AotR) by Mildred Louis is a “college years coming of age story that takes influence from a number of timeless Magical Girl classics,” like Sailor Moon (“About”). The narrative follows Norah, Adele, Kendall, Paige, and Jordan—five young women at the imaginary Silvermount University who, after the discovery of magical amulets, transform into “fetching super-warrior[s] … [who] courageously fight the forces of evil” (Sugawa). Louis relies on some of the greatest, tried-and-true magical girl tropes in her story: the team of five become “a specialised task force” of “chosen” ones who must “protect our world,” plus they “are endowed with heightened strength, stamina, [and] magical powers” (Liu 5). That said, Louis also adds her own spin to the genre by making the main cast college freshman and by having “the majority of the cast [identify] within the LGBTQ community” (“About”). Louis uses the university environment in AotR to create a utopic space for her queer magical girls. While this is a story-wide project that unfolds over the course of many chapter, I’ll examine a brief sequence towards the end of volume one that demonstrates how this utopic space explores queer identities.1
Due to the ongoing pandemic crisis, ICAF was forced to cancel its events at the 2020 Small Press Expo. Over the next 16 weeks (give or take), we will be publishing