July 9, 2017

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We're Still Here Kickstarter Gives Loud Voice to Trans Creators



There are so many good Kickstarter projects out there, and if I did nothing else but write about Kickstarters, I'm not sure I'd have time to get through them all. But when I get a chance to do so, I'm always happy to write something up.

And when the project in question is an anthology with all-trans creators, including Panel Pals Dylan Edwards, Mel Gillman, and L. Nichols, I wanted to make sure our readers heard about this one. Of course, there's a good chance you did, because We're Still Here already blew past its initial $17,000 goal and is well into its stretch goals (which aren't even up yet, because Holy Crap, this thing funded fast), which are loosely planned to primarily benefit the creators, aka Rob's favorite kind of stretch goal. (Stickers are cool; more $$ to the creators is always better.)

So what is We're Still Here? It's a collection of short stories featuring a wide variety of content. Rather than having a specific theme, like Beyond (Sci Fi/Fantasy) or the recent Queer Tarot anthology, the point of We're Still Here is to show off the talents of trans creators, doing what they individually or collectively do best. Here's a quote from the project page:
WE’RE STILL HERE, edited by Tara Avery and Jeanne Thornton, contains fifty-five stories by fifty-five different creators (or creative teams), all of us trans, and all of us telling stories that range from fiction to nonfiction, escapist fantasy to slice-of-life memoir and back again. Here you'll find all the hit trans content you crave: the weird stuff, the stuff that goes to uncomfortable places, the stuff that highlights little-known kinks and contradictions in the trans experience, and most importantly, the stories about trans people having a good, maybe sad time. 
It's an approach that was used for Womanthology, which was also widely successful but had some controversy attached. So far, this project seems far more drama free. The editors offered a few hints of the types of stories that have been put together so far. Again, from the project page:
 Big talk! But what does it mean in practice? Here's a sampling of the stories in We're Still Here:
An evening discussing the terrors of Donald Trump at a Japanese bar for trans men
A trans woman uses MDMA (with complex results)
A trans woman visits her grandmother for Christmas (with complex results)
Visual essay on sex work, trans masculinity, and testosterone 
A practical guide to using paganism to navigate workplace terror 
Trans women pilot giant robots with impeccable synch ratios 
Toxic masculinity haunts a friendship between a butch lesbian and trans man 
A devotional essay about angels beyond gender or understanding 
Two trans women named Sweetness and Lightning blow up a car, watch Akira, and live happily ever after
They even joke that if those stories don't appeal to you, there will be plenty of others, in close to 300 pages of total content. One of the things I appreciated most about this Kickstarter is the lovely, jovial tone of the entire thing. We even got an old-timey rube asking questions, like so:


The cantankerous questioner appears throughout, providing a really entertaining read through their introduction, creator snippets, and rewards.

I will fully admit that I'm not super-familiar with most of the creators involved, other than some of my "regulars" like Dylan. However, I trust the editorial team to find quality content, and they've provided plenty of panel samples on the Kickstarter page, like these:

Kai Egener

Althea Solis
There's plenty more at the KS page, as well as a greyscale ashcan to help you decide.

We're Still Here also features something I'd never seen before on a Kickstarter project--instead of doing limited time rewards as a total number (like the first X backers pay $20, all else pay $25), they've set the tiers up so that lower prices are available to anyone who backs early, then they go away. If Kickstarter is already a pre-order system, this is a pre-pre-order concept that I really like. As a person who works all day and lives on the West Coast, I rarely if ever get to pick up those Early Birds. Great job, and I wish more KS would do this.

So what are the rewards? Pretty standard, but that's okay. $15 gets you the PDF, which is a bit steep, but the 300 pages of content offsets that. $25 plus shipping nets you the book, and if you hustle, you can get the book and a totebag for $40, which goes up to $50 after the early bird expires. There's also a color book option, sketches from the creators, and more, at the higher levels.

I am so very happy to be a backer of this project and I can't wait to see it in my hands. Anytime there's a chance to enhance queer voices, in comics and in life, I want to be there for those struggling to be noticed. As the editors note, sometimes it can be lonely to be different from others. Coming together in a project like this bonds those creators together. Let's support that, and get more made soon! You can back We're Still Here at this link.