- The Divided States of Hysteria, famed writer/artist Howard Chaykin's new political satire series from Image Comics, already provoked controversy with the first issue's depiction of the assault of a trans sex worker. (In a defensive essay published on Image's site, Chaykin dismissed such criticism as "balkanizing nonsense" that reinforces bigotry.) The release of the planned cover for the book's fourth issue, featuring the lynched and mutilated corpse of a Pakistani man, prompted even greater ire, and ultimately the cover's retraction, albeit with a defensive apology. The creators of Image's upcoming supernatural comedy-fantasy series Moonstruck (including Lumberjanes co-creator Grace Ellis) issued a statement calling for greater awareness and sensitivity from their publisher:
After reading Image’s statement about the retraction of their obviously horrific cover, we can’t help but wonder why the outcry about the book’s trans panic scene didn’t illicit a similar response, and we are troubled by it. There is an obvious pattern here: a pattern of sensationalizing hate crimes, a pattern of using minorities as props meant to shock white/cis people, a pattern of refusing to acknowledge the harm that these depictions do to their respective communities. Violence against trans women is an appalling, widespread, real life epidemic; invoking images of these acts without any reverence or weight or care for real-life individuals who experience this type of violence is unacceptable... That being said, the setup that allows Chaykin’s book to exist is the same one that allows “Moonstruck” (an all-ages/YA book with tons of LGBTQ characters of color and with an all-queer, non-male core creative team) to exist, as well as the many other wonderful Image books that, like ours, may not have found a home elsewhere. It’s a double-edged sword, and it’s not fair, but it’s the truth. Genuinely, we are lucky and happy to be an Image book, and that is why we are going to actively fight for Image to be a more socially responsible company.
- NYU professor/queer-themed game developer Robert Yang's latest project, The Tearoom, based on a real-life surveillance effort from Ohio in 1962, allows players to simulate cruising in a public restroom. To appease censors, genitalia are replaced by flesh-colored guns, though the result is probably still not exactly work-safe.
- For a different sort of queer gaming, there's Tusks, a dating sim starring gay orcs. Per a recent Kotaku writeup:
...And Orcs, in the world of Tusks, are super-gay. They have a pride festival called the Ua (pronounced waaaa, a not-so-subtle nod to the Orks of Warhammer), they sometimes have multiple husbands, many wear snug banana hammocks and generally come decked out in classically queer attire. But that’s also not all they are. They have stories and they have religions and they have complex inner lives. It’s tough, after all, for an orc to make a go of it anywhere... The opening is meant to mirror an experience that developer Mitch Alexander had when he was playing Skyrim. Playing as an orc, at one point he was pulling a group of orcs together to create a new “found family.” The notion is common throughout all kinds of cultures, but is especially important in real-world queer circles. Often, families of LGBTQ folks may disown them when they come out. Tusks flips that and countless other tropes—not necessarily, I think, to deconstruct or comment on them (though that does happen too), but to help establish a new, positive environment to explore these ideas.
A free demo of Tusks is available here.
- Artist Leonardo Gutierrez's depictions of the original Super Smash Bros roster as muscle bears have taken the internet by storm. Which is your favorite? (Some of them are much more skimpily attired than Captain Falcon and Ness above, so discretion is advised).