Being True, an LGBTQ Comics Anthology, Now Live on Kickstarter

Being True, the anthology its editors describe as “an uplifting celebration of LGBTQ life and identity,” is currently live on Kickstarter and looking for support. This latest anthology from the Boston Comics Roundtable (BCR) aims to highlight the beauty and strength you can find by being true to yourself. The goal of the book is to tell about 85 pages worth of joyful, loving stories from the LGBTQ community, printed in black and white with a color cover.

The anthology is edited by BCR members Renie Jesanis, Steph Glass, and Kyri Lorenz. Jesanis came up with the idea after attending FlameCon in 2017. 

“I thought ‘gee, we have enough LGBTQ people in the Boston Comics Roundtable, why don’t we do a queer anthology?’ As always happens when you suggest an idea, the first reply was ‘That’s a great idea! You should totally do it!’” said Jesanis. “So I took up the process of gathering a team and getting the ball rolling with the rough idea of a theme of ‘What does being true mean to you?’”

While a good chunk of the book’s over twenty contributors are from the Boston area, they also reach as far as Poland and Brazil. See the full list of contributors below:

  • Sistrum: Monika Rak, Beata Sosnowska, Voyk, Magda Wielgolaska
  • Beth Barnett
  • Sushi D.
  • Echo
  • Jen Epervary
  • Steph Glass
  • Renie Jesanis
  • Skylar Kardon
  • Barbara Kochman
  • Zuu Kochman
  • Ali L.
  • Kyri Lorenz
  • Patrícia Loupee
  • Margaret Love
  • Khale McHurst
  • Aiden Moore
  • Catalina Rufín
  • Jamie Sherman
  • Scarlett Shiloh
  • Liz Young
  • Rook Zheng
“Our creators range from seasoned veterans to First-Time-Publishers and rookies looking to get their start.  We really think that the strength of this anthology is the variety of skill and genre,” mentioned Jesanis.

Cover artist LB Lee is well-known for their mental health comics as well as their memoir series All in the Family and book The Homeless Year. Catalina Rufin is known for their Fairy Warriors series as well as their stunning travelogue A Passion for Scotland. Editor Kyri Lorenz, Rufin, and Beth Barnett were all included in the most recent BCR anthology Spellbound Vol. 2. Khale McHurst is known for the comics projects I Do Not Have An Eating Disorder and the ongoing Polyamory Isn’t For Everyone. For many, this will be some of their first formal publications.

According to the editors, the stories in the anthology span a broad range of genres, both fiction and nonfiction, including slice of life, fantasy, science fiction, and more. The editors mention a goal of the project is to represent LGBTQ people in as many genres as they can.

“There's a piece talking about finding a label that feels right. A piece about being trans and not conforming to society's expectations of your gender, and the validity of expressing yourself even if people don't understand it. There's a superhero story about finding allies in unexpected places. I could talk about each of them because we've got such a great spread, but I'll leave it at that,” said Lorenz.

One of Glass’s favorite pieces comes from the Polish creative team Sistrum: “There are four of them - Monika, Magda, Beata, and Voyk. Their submission is technically three stories, from different members about their experiences with lesbianism and their gender and what have you, but illustrated all by Beata, so the style ties them together. I think they're really great, I was so excited when they submitted.”

The editors have also dedicated themselves to curating a book that is appropriate for a younger audience, keeping the material PG-13.

“We decided midway through the process of gathering our contributors that this was not going to be a book about how terrible it is to be gay or trans. There's already way too much media like that, about how our lives end in tragedy. Of course there is some discussion of homophobia - it is an inextricable part of LGBTQ life - but our contributors oppose that, and fight against it by taking pride in their identities. The idea that being LGBTQ is good and that being true to yourself will make things better is a message that kids need to hear, whether they're LGBTQ or not,” Glass explained.

In Being True, the editors are striving to present a positive and invigorating collection of stories about LGBTQ life.

“When we got the pitches, we noticed that unintentionally they were overwhelmingly uplifting, positive stories with happy endings. So much of queer media follows the whole ‘bury your gays’ theme, so we are all really excited to buck that trend and start to change the conversation from LGBTQ characters being overwhelmingly tragic figures to heroes and victors,” said Jesanis.

The initial goal of the Kickstarter is $5,000, which will cover the printing costs for 300 books, paying their cover artist LB Lee, and paying contributors a wage of $30 per page, as well as any Kickstarter fees and taxes. Any additional funds raised will increase the payment for contributors. The Kickstarter discusses the editorial team’s admirable desire to make sure the artists are not only paid but paid well. 

“LGBTQ creators struggle oftentimes to find paid work. ‘Exposure’ doesn’t pay rent or medical bills, so for this anthology to be considered a success in our minds, the contributors need to be paid for their time and effort. This is where the Kickstarter comes in and really helps move us in the right direction and, if we are fully funded, pay our creators for their work,” said Jesanis.

For $5, you can back the project and get a sticker as well as acknowledgment in the book. For $15, you can get a physical copy of the book, a sticker, as well as an in-book acknowledgment. There are two special retailer tiers at $30 and $50. Also, there are higher tiers that grant a copy of the anthology as well as advertising space in the book with a quarter page ad at the $100 level and a half page ad at the $200 level.

The Boston Comics Roundtable is the oldest and largest community of independent cartoonists in the Boston area. They meet weekly in Cambridge to discuss members’ work and any relevant comics news. The group has over a decade of collective publishing experience and has successfully published many past anthologies, with over a dozen anthologies credited to the organization.

“I'm really just excited that we were able to promote the voices of LGBTQ independent artists,” said Glass. “It can be hard to find a publication or project that will take a chance on you when you're not a big-name artist, and these pieces are really so beautiful and cool.” 

While there are only a few art samples to currently browse, the video is thorough and the ideas behind the anthology are thoughtful and passionate. The examples that are provided show a varying range of different styles that look intriguing. I’d encourage you to check it out!