Lesbian-themed comics may be a bit of a rarity today, but that's something that comic book artist Megan Gedris is aiming to change, and it looks as if she's in a fantastic position to do so. Prism Comics, a nonprofit organization which advocates for greater inclusion of LGBT characters and creators in the comic book industry, has revealed exclusively to AfterEllen.com that they have awarded a queer press grant to Gedris.
The 20-year-old artist will be awarded the $1,000 grant to publish YU+ME, her lesbian-themed manga series about the adventures of Fiona, a misfit Catholic schoolgirl.
“YU+ME really wowed Prism's selection committee,” said David Stanley, Prism Comics' publicist. “For a 20-year-old, Megan is incredibly accomplished, with 1,000 pages of comic art under her belt, a popular website, and a ready-to-publish graphic novel. We were incredibly impressed by the depth of her writing and art, and especially heartened by the fact [that] she aimed this manga-styled work at lesbians, a heretofore neglected audience.”
Gedris has also proven herself in another comic series; she was one of the top three finalists in Platinum Studios' Comic Book Challenge, in which her pulp homage, I Was Kidnapped by Lesbian Pirates From Outer Space, defeated entries from 12 countries.
Gedris started drawing comics at age 10, and she hasn't looked back since. “Ever since then, I've never been able to stop,” she admitted. “I do it compulsively all the time, drawing all the time, and I just kept practicing and getting better and hoping that eventually I'd be able to achieve my dream. The goal has always been getting printed.” And that is exactly what she plans to use the Prism grant for.
“The grant is going to get an initial 500 copies made, so I hope to sell those, and then make some more and try to sell those, and so on. The grant isn't so much for the money; it's more so that I can print it and people can read it.” She also plans to attend comic book conventions in order to facilitate sales.
When asked about the impact of the grant on her budding career, Gedris is equal parts reserved and hopeful. “I'm hoping it takes off. It'll probably be awhile before I manage to get really well known, if at all, but I think it's definitely a step in the right direction. It's sort of a beginning step on the whole path towards my ultimate goal of being a comic book artist.”
YU+ME is Gedris' labor of love, and especially heartening is the fact that for Gedris, the series represents her first endeavor as an out artist. Previous to writing YU+ME, her work centered on gay male characters in order to “throw everyone off my trail,” and she used the alias “Anonymous Manga.”
“I figured just changing the gender of everybody would make the story different,” Gedris said. “If I make them all gay boys, well, even if people did find out that I did it, they wouldn't think that I was gay.”
Luckily for everyone, Gedris changed her approach in 2004. “I came out, and I had finished all of my gay boy series, so it was time to start a new [series]. There also aren't as many lesbian comics out there, and I was often very unhappy with the few that I could find. I'm the sort of person where if I don't like what's out there, I'm going to put my own stuff out and try to make it better.”