Queerly Geek

Enigma            Peter Milligan’s The Enigma confronts society’s expectations about identity.  The Enigma, narrated in the first person, tells the story of 20-something Michael Smith. Smith meets Titus Bird, the writer of the superhero comic book The Enigma, the story of a man with omnipotent powers who adopts the identity of a superhero. Smith runs into the Enigma, who reveals that he is an emotionless being, unfamiliar with concepts of right and wrong.  Enigma take Smith on life changing adventure where Smith is challenged by how consciously he is aware of himself.  His experience with Enigma reveal a deeper understanding of his, and the reader’s, place in the world.

In a twist at the end the narrator is revealed to be a lizard, that had been gifted human consciousness by Enigma, and the lizard is attempting to explain its new awareness to other lizards.  The other lizards though are unable to comprehend the story they are being told because their own knowledge of self and the world is limited.  The lizard’s interaction with Enigma mirrors Smith’s, who too has been changed and grown from experiences with Enigma, and finds it difficult to explain to friends.

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Queerly Geek

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Queer Representation in Strangers in Paradise

d235b18528ee6f0669700298684570be           Terry Moore’s Strangers in Paradise volume 3’s representation of queerness became my first exposure to positive queer characters with agency.  I discovered Strangers in Paradise through stray copies of volume two in FYE, while in middle school.  The characters, through Moore’s work, was my first exposure to independent self-published comic books.  Strangers in Paradise had kinetic physical comedy balanced with brutal sudden violence, and strong characterization. I hunted down back issues and filled in volume one and two through local comic book stores and internet stores, when they became available.   Aside from great artwork, strong characterization and real relationships were the draw.  Francine’s attractiveness was not the basis for Katchoo’s love.  It was Francine’s empathy, kindness, and loyalty.  Francine valued Katchoo’s selflessness, honesty, and endless compassion.  The two characters had an authentic relationship rooted in appreciation and friendship.

Seeing a balanced queer relationship, and created agency, was a stark contrast to mainstream representation where homosexuality was rarely addressed, and when it was homosexuality was treated like a plot-device.  Katchoo was driven by her queer relationship with Francine, and inherent danger in queerness.  This is exemplified by Freddie Femur, Francine’s ex-boyfriend, who is jealous of the characters’ relationship and suffers embarrassment when he attempts to push his heterosexual expectations on Francine.  The other antagonist, Darcy Parker, represents the exploitation of women by other women, through an international prostitution ring, which pushed hetero-erotic gender-roles on an under-age runaway Katchoo.  Both adversaries’ suppression of queerness was a driving force, informing both character and plot development.