by Latonya Pennington
Although there has been a forty year history of LGBTQ people in comics, QTPOC in comics aren’t as visible as their white counterparts. While we do have LGBTQ+ superheroes of color, they have yet to appear in any superhero films, television shows, or animated series. In response to the lack of acknowledgment in mainstream media, there have been QTPOC comic creators and characters telling stories in independent comics.
One QPOC comic creator is Victor Kerney, who created and wrote the urban fantasy comic book Strangelore with artist Antonio Brandao. Strangelore is currently available to read online via Taptastic.
What can you tell us about Strangelore?
StrangeLore is my love letter to all of things I truly adore: Comics, Supernatural tales and queer stories. It’s about 19 year-old Brandon Hanks who, after a horrible tragedy, moves from Chicago to a small town in the South. As he settles into his new home, Brandon meets the cavalier and handsome, Jackson Garrett. The chemistry between them is instantaneous, but things become complicated when Brandon finds out that Jackson is a supernatural being, hiding from his dark and deadly past.
When did you decide to make an urban fantasy/horror comic with a black gay male lead?
I had to watch the Twilight movie for a review. As I researched the book and the film, I realized that we (queers) didn’t have anything like this. I mean, there are some films, but nothing that queer fans can easily reference. So, I came home and start writing. During the writing process, I decided to convert the screenplay into a graphic novel. I thought it would be fun as a big comic book to read. And I had to make the lead Black and gay. I feel like we don’t get to shine as queer people of color and I couldn’t create a story without a POC as the lead… I just couldn’t. It’s imperative to see ourselves in comics and as LGBT.
What lore, if any, inspired, Strangelore?
The history of Pan inspired me. He’s known in a few different mythologies and he’s also known as the first and the last God. Pan has played a part in many endeavors in mythology, so I thought, why not explore his history and play with it a little.
Brandon, the comic’s lead character, has a horrific backstory that could be compared to real-life tragedies such as the recent Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando. How do you think Brandon’s struggle to move on from his past can impact readers who have had similar experiences?
Hopefully, readers can find something enduring in Brandon’s story. Brandon realized that his journey would be strenuous, still he embraced that challenge. Perhaps readers who has faced similar issues can appreciate this aspect of Brandon’s character.
Who do think can help make comics more inclusive for LGBTQ+ people of color?
I want to say the executives at the major comic companies, but really, I think we play a part in it too. We have to demand diversity and inclusiveness in comics. And if we don’t get it, well we should start creating the comics we want to see. We have to continue these conversations and demands in order to make change happen.
In addition to creating your first comic, you also created MEGASHEEN, a website and podcast dedicated to queer nerds of color. Why do you think it is important for them to have a space for themselves?
For far too long, we haven’t had our own space to collaborate, learn and appreciate each other. I think it’s important that queer geeks of color to have a domain to be themselves, and feel the support and love from each other. A lot of us feel lost and the overall world of geekdom. With MEGASHEEN, I hope that many of our brothers and sisters know there is a safe space for them to celebrate and express their creative talents.
Is there anything else about Strangelore people should know?
There are more stories to come in the StrangeLore series. I wanted to start slow and then throw readers into the mad, fantastic world of Brandon and Jackson. There is so much more to them and I hope this first book inspires readers to come back for more.
Latonya Pennington is a queer freelance writer and blerd. She specializes in pop culture and entertainment and has written for Superselected magazine, The Mary Sue, Black Girl Nerds, and more. When she isn’t freelancing, she can be found on Twitter, streaming shows, listening to music, reading, and writing poetry.
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