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Diary Comic – It Happened to Me: Crushing While Aro/Ace

Diary Comic – It Happened to Me: Crushing While Aro/Ace published on
Single-panel comic sketch done in pencil on scrap paper. A masculine person with shaggy hair and sideburns is wearing glasses, an N95 mask, a beanie, and a t-shirt. A dialog box on the right points to him with the caption "Painfully aware that I look like a complete dork at the moment"
A series of dialog bubbles on the right side of the figure:
1: The person in the drawing says "I wanted to tell you ..."
2: bubble shows a person speaking off-camera: "Oh yeah? (enthusiastic)"
3: A thought bubble indicating dialog not spoken aloud points back to person 1: "That I have a huge crush on you but the current context makes it wildly inappropriate to say that"
4: bubble indicates person 1 is speaking aloud: "[Trivial anecdote that I proceed to butcher]"

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.

Description from Wikipedia of the "Cow Tools" Far Side comic by Gary Larson: "Cow tools" is a single-panel cartoon depicting a cow standing on its hind legs at a table, with a barn in the background. On the table are four objects: one resembles a crude hand saw, while the others are more abstract. The caption bluntly reads, "cow tools".

Tranniversary diary comics

Tranniversary diary comics published on

I’ve been posting a series of sketch diary comics over on my Patreon to mark my 20th anniversary of transitioning, or my Tranniversary, if you will:

I don’t usually post sketch diary comics here on the ol’ homepage because, I guess, I generally prefer to stick with finished, professional material for Studio NDR. Hence the Patreon and the Tumblr at this time.

Anyway, today is Trans Day of Visibility, a day about which I have very mixed feelings (see page 3).

Trans Day of Visibility did not exist when I first came out, but I have to suspect it would have helped me if it had been a thing 20 years ago. Simply knowing transness was an option would have been an improvement over “something about me is wrong, but I don’t know what.”

Unfortunately, a lot of people have confused “people getting the information they need at a younger age than previous generations were able to” with “trendy badness that is bad,” so visibility is not sufficient in and of itself.

Anyway, I am definitely a trans elder now, as demonstrated by the fact that I am excited-about-a-salad-spinner years old.



New diary comic, new Valley of the Silk Sky, and a virtual queer convention

New diary comic, new Valley of the Silk Sky, and a virtual queer convention published on

Why yes, I do actually have some new comics for you. First up, a short diary comic called “Stimuless.” I guess you could say this is an AUTO-bio comic, har har. But yes, this is more or less the sequence of events that occurred, though the real life version had less anthropomorphism.

Read “Stimuless” here

For the last few weeks I’ve been running a Valley of the Silk Sky short story over on the VotSS website. (I typically only publish pages from The Long Run here on Studio NDR; any VotSS extras and short stories are to be found on VotSS.) Well, that short story, “Extraction,” is now complete, and you can read the whole thing in one go. So go:

Read “Valley of the Silk Sky: Extraction” here

Finally, I’ll be vending at a virtual convention this weekend, Rainbow Space Magic Con. There will be a bunch of readings and panels with various queer authors of genre fiction, so if that’s of interest to you, come join us this weekend, March 12-14.

I’ll have a vendor pop-up slot on Saturday, March 13 (PT 2:00pm / MT 3:00pm / CT 4:00pm / ET 5:00pm / UK 10:00pm). In addition of a quick run through of my various wares, I’ll also be doing a live reading of some of my comics, so be sure to tune in for that!

Best of all, registration is free, so get yet butt over to the RSMC site to sign up:

Register for Rainbow Space Magic Con here

That’s it for now, but I have some more comic announcements to make in the coming weeks, so keep yer eyes peeled.



“Gig in Japan” page 5 takes a bow and exits the stage

“Gig in Japan” page 5 takes a bow and exits the stage published on

The final installment of my Japanese metal show diary comic is here:

That Patreon post includes a discussion of souvenir towels, so hit that link if you yearn to know more.

If you yearn to read the whole comic in one fell swoop, this is the link for you.

Also, don’t forget to check out my soundtrack playlist for this comic, which is on the YouTubes here:

Now that this comic has wrapped, perhaps you’re wondering what comes next. Well, I’ll tell you.

I’m about halfway through coloring the next chapter of Valley of the Silk Sky, so that’s getting extremely close to done. I’ve been avoiding setting a specific date for when I’ll start running the chapter as my workflow has been painfully slow (sometimes due to literal pain, mostly due to Anxiety About the World We Live In).

BUT. Know that progress is happening, and new pages shall emerge very soon.



“Gig in Japan” page 4 works the crowd

“Gig in Japan” page 4 works the crowd published on
Gig in Japan - Mejibray live show diary comic

The latest installment of my Japanese metal show diary comic is here:

Like a lot of gothic metal bands, Mejibray’s style leans heavily on BDSM themes, so it’s not too surprising the crowd would be exuberant about being spat upon.

Also, I would have expected a mosh pit if it had been an American show, and would have avoided front and center accordingly. But no such scrum developed here. I don’t know if moshing just isn’t a thing in Japan, or if it does happen but sticks to other genres. Clearly one of these days I will need to do further research on the matter.



Gig in Japan page 3 rocks out

Gig in Japan page 3 rocks out published on

The show goes on! Read page 3 here:

If you check out the Patreon post, you can read some of my musings about concerts past and present, should such a thing be of interest to you.

I will add this one translation note here, though:

The actual rendering of “encore” in Japanese is アンコール (ankouru), where the final “ru” would only be partially voiced. But the crowd was definitely saying a fully-voiced “re” at the end of the word, giving each syllable equal weight as basically a three-beat chant. JUST in case you were wondering.

Tune in next week for page 4 excitement!



Gig in Japan page 2 takes the stage

Gig in Japan page 2 takes the stage published on

The second installment of my diary comic about going to see a metal show in Japan is here! Specifically, it is here:

Since this is a short comic, I’ll wait until all the pages are up to post it over on Tumblr (for the five of you who still use Tumblr).

To answer my own question from the first panel, this is not a thing specific to Mejibray shows. I’ve since gone back and watched music videos by other Japanese rock bands, and have noticed the crowds acting in unison there as well. I suppose to the extent I noticed it before I’d just assumed it was a staged coordination for the sake of the video. And, well, it IS a staged coordination, but being filmed has little to do with it.

Tune in next week for more lessons in Japanese rock show etiquette!



Gig in Japan is live!

Gig in Japan is live! published on
Gig in Japan - Mejibray live

Perhaps you read this comic when it ran on The Comics Journal last fall, but in the event you missed it, I’m gonna run it here now that the rights have reverted back to me!

You can now read page 1 here. A new page will go up each week!

To refresh your memory, this is my diary comic about going to see a visual kei heavy metal show in Japan a few years ago. Because I’m a nerd for making playlists, I put together a soundtrack for this comic. It’s on YouTube because a lot of the featured bands never had their music licensed for U.S. release, so many of them (Mejibray included) are not to be found on Spotify or iTunes here. (Several of the bands on my playlist make cameos in this comic as t-shirts – this page features Dog in the PWO, a.k.a. Dog in the Parallel World Orchestra.)

True fact: in order to buy Mejibray’s albums, I had to purchase them on CD (!!) which I was only able to find at a Tower Records (!!!) in Shibuya. It was like traveling backwards in time.



Page 6 of “Trans Tokyo: A Trek to Two’s Cabin” appears, and thus is the story complete!

Page 6 of “Trans Tokyo: A Trek to Two’s Cabin” appears, and thus is the story complete! published on
Trans Tokyo: A Trek to Two's Cabin

The exciting tale of my journey to a trans bar is Tokyo is now complete! Page 6 is to be found here on Studio NDR and here on Patreon.

If you’re looking to read the whole thing in one swell foop, here is the link for you.

I’ll also be posting the whole story to Tumblr soon, but not right at this second. Once it’s up, I’ll post a link here.

As for what’s next on the comics docket, Valley of the Silk Sky: The Long Run Chapter 11 is finished and ready to go. I’ll start posting pages for public consumption on January 16, 2020. Patrons who pledge $1 or more per month will, as is  the custom, get early access to pages, so for those folks it’ll start on January 13.

See you then!


“Trans Tokyo: A Trek to Two’s Cabin” page 5 arrives

“Trans Tokyo: A Trek to Two’s Cabin” page 5 arrives published on

The penultimate page of our parable may now be peeped! Peruse here on Studio NDR, or here on Patreon.

Tune in next week for the EXCITING CONCLUSION.

Speaking of exciting conclusions, the Kickstarter for The Nib’s Be Gay Do Comics anthology has wrapped! The project has funded quite handily, so soon you’ll be able to get your mitts on this fine book. As a reminder, I’ll have 8 pages of comics in there, alongside a great many other excellent cartoonists. If you missed out on the Kickstarter, I’m sure The Nib will have extra copies to sell retail, so keep an eye on their announcements.

Finally, I’ve finished coloring Valley of the Silk Sky: The Long Run chapter 11, and am in the final stages of cleaning up the scans and lettering the pages. So I’m on track to commence publishing the next installment on January 16, 2020. Brace yourselves!



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