Why yes, it IS Asexual Awareness Week. Time to share this comic I made about the many and varied flavors of asexuality, and the distinction between aromantic and asexual identity. This is a brief overview of a complex topic, obviously (I have not yet managed to solve all the world’s problems with a half-page comic, for which I apologize), but you get the idea.
TL;DR: You don’t stop being aro/ace even when you’re having feelings that look, on the surface, strikingly similar to what allo people typically feel. Insert the usual caveat that this is about my own personal experience, other folks will have different takes on this topic.
So yeah, I came down with a crush recently, and decided to draw this little diary comic about it.
[For reference and clarity, I identify as demi/gray for both aro and ace. While I do want to be in a relationship, I don’t catch feels for very many people. I do experience sexual attraction, but that’s even rarer for me than romantic attraction. This particular guy referenced in my comic managed to set off both.]
On a surface level, there’s nothing new or original expressed in this drawing. Pretty standard set of anxieties and behaviors when you’re crushing, right?
And yet, for folks who are arospec or acespec, having what looks like a standard crush is not necessarily the same thing as allo crushing. This is not a dynamic I see talked about a whole lot, so I’mma talk about it.
By way of analogy, let’s say I did a drawing of a cis man and a cis woman who are clearly a couple, and indicate that they’re in a monogamous relationship. Nothing on the surface says that this is anything other than a typical heterosexual couple. Except, wait, what if both people involved are bisexual. Being in a monogamous relationship with someone of a different gender does not automatically reset either person to straight, nor can their partnership be accurately described as heterosexual. Neither person enjoys heterosexual privilege, and each person continues to experience and process attraction differently from someone who is straight.
By the same token, an aro and/or ace person experiencing romantic and/or sexual attraction does not automatically become allo. For my own part, the nature of this particular crush has caused certain allo things to make more sense to me, certain songs or movies or phrases or behaviors, but it feels very much like learning a second language: I just figured out the translation for one or two things that were utterly incomprehensible to me before (“Oh, maybe that’s why allos don’t seem to get bored of yet another rock song that’s about sex. Fascinating.”)
This crush does not at all mean that I will now be a typical alloromantic/allosexual from here on out. I still experience these feelings from a different vantage point, and bring a different set of past experiences to bear, experiences that many allo people have flat out told me make no sense to them (“What do you mean you weren’t aimlessly horny all the time in high school???”). I still approach relationships in ways that seem “weird” to allos. I still won’t be up to speed on attraction dynamics that are deeply intuitive to allo people, but that require translation for me to comprehend them.
And it’s not like I haven’t spent a lifetime trying desperately to understand all of this. I want to be in a relationship, a fact that a number of even my very close friends are shocked to learn, because I don’t perform the typical social signals around that correctly, I guess. And when allo people give me dating and relationship advice from an allo perspective, it most often feels like I’m being offered an array of cow tools. What I actually need (if I may spaghettify this metaphor) is an array of bat tools. They won’t necessarily look less odd, but they’ll at least be the right tools for me.
The latest OUT FRONT Magazine is on the stands now (if you’re in the Denver area, that is), and I have a new comic in there! This seemed like a good issue to do a comic looking at just a few of the different manifestations that asexuality can take.
I also made a public Patreon post wherein I go into some detail about the coloring choices for this comic.
If you are not hooked into cartoonist Twitter, there’s been a big, BIG explosion this morning regarding Gumroad as a platform for selling indie comics. I’m not sure I want to get into the whole story here, but suffice it to say, Gumroad decided to take what could have been a very minor problem and dealt with it in a professional manner. Instead, they apparently, for reasons that are absolutely opaque to me, decided they’d rather bully and abuse a huge swath of creators in public, on Twitter, and then delete a bunch of those abusive tweets.
I have not quite picked my jaw up off the floor from seeing how badly they handled this whole thing. But it made me not trust them as a company going forward. My problem now is that I have to figure out a new platform for selling my self-published work. Since all of this blew up just this morning, I haven’t had a chance to figure out yet what my new thing is going to be. It may take me some days to sort it out (this is the kind of thing I dread having to deal with even under normal circumstances, nevermind the current howling mess).
I am also currently sidelined to some extent. My left shoulder, a.k.a. my drawing shoulder, seized up the other day, and I have not been able to un-seize it, no matter how much I rest or stretch or worry it with trigger point massagers. So I’m going back to physical therapy, but that’s a bit over a week away. As such, my time on the computer and at the drafting table is limited for awhile yet.
ANYWAY, once I sort out my new biz for selling comics online, I will post about it here.
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Back in the Beforetimes, I was planning to debut the newest issue of my autobio minicomic series at the Toronto Comic Arts Festival in May.
TCAF is canceled, of course, but I decided to go ahead and put the comic together anyway. I’ve arbitrarily set a release date of May 1, and have set up a preorder listing for the book, should you desire such a thing.
QAT Person #3 collects the latest batch of my autobio comics on queer, asexual, and trans identity.
“Ace Pilot” posits an asexual headcanon for Luke Skywalker. “Two’s Cabin” recounts the author’s adventure at a trans guy bar in Tokyo. “Banned Books” takes a look at censorship of queer media (and Alison Bechdel’s FUN HOME in particular). “Trans Potty” offers a humorous take on bathroom troubles for trans guys.
Ordinarily I’d also be uploading these pages to Tumblr as well, but since this is such a short piece (5 whole pages), I’m going to hold off on publishing them individually. I’ll do a single post with the whole story once it’s wrapped.
Apparently Asexual Awareness Week and Bat Week coincide, so here’s an Ace Bat for ya.
The bat art is from one of the $5+ Patreon backer postcards I sent out recently, recolored here to match the Asexual flag. (The original is orange, as this is a painted bat.)
Since this is freehanded ink-on-paper (no pencils), I guess it kinda counts as an Inktober as well. So many hashtags.
In quick other news, I have one page left to pencil for Valley of the Silk Sky chapter 8, and then that stage of the process will be done. HOORAY! I’m hoping to have it ready to start running by mid-December.
Also: The Outfield collection is in the proofing stage. First pass had a number of corrections, but I’m hoping most of that got sorted out. I’ll need to get a second proof to confirm. Anyway, it’s still on track for a November 2017 release.
So hey, it’s Asexual Awareness Week! If you haven’t done so already, be sure to check out my comic for The Nib, wherein I go on about intersections of asexual, queer, and trans identities.
I was also interviewed for the BiCast podcast, wherein Sara Beth Brooks and I talk with Lynnette McFadzen about – what else? – ASEXUALITY. You can point your ears thisaway to indulge in said cast of pod.
Finally, speaking of comics with asexual characters, I have news on the Valley of the Silk Sky front. As you may recall, the comic was on hold while I worked on various and sundry freelance projects. But those projects are now complete, and I’m in the process of penciling chapter 7 even now.
I’m going to be in Japan for most of November, and my goal is to have the pencils finished before I leave. My goal is NOT to work myself to death while I’m on semi-vacation, so I won’t be doing any coloring until I get back. That puts the timeline at running chapter 7 in January. Appropriate enough, since January is VotSS’s birthday!
I say Japan is a semi-vacation, since I will be giving a talk on Entrepreneurship in American Comics while I’m there. So if you, also, will be in Tokyo on November 16th, you can come to the thing! It’s at the American Center from 6:00 PM – 7:30 PM on Wednesday, Nov. 16. More details here (page is in Japanese).
I have a couple more announcements about upcoming events in December, but I’ll tell you more about those closer to the date.
As threatened, here’s a new comic for you, regarding the perils of having to come out about multiple things. Ha ha, this is like the most social anxiety I’ve experienced over posting a comic in a long, long time. What fun!