super-butch tells the story of Lillian “Sticks” Lewis, a reporter from Turtle City looking for information on the whereabouts of the legendary SuperButch, a superhero who takes down the cops who attack gay bars at the time.
Sticks told his story to teacher Alicia Torres and assistant Tammy Barr in 1988. In the 1940s, most queer adults flocked to the bar scene to be themselves and even find love. And, of course, the cops often find and raid these bars. Reporter Sticks deals with sexism and racism in the newsroom. Due to her very fair skin, she intentionally comes across as white while on the job and frequents the bar scene at night as herself. Intolerant audiences call queer people perverted, but the queer characters Sticks interacts with, including his (Japanese-American) girlfriend Kansas, are human beings with desires and nowhere else to go to express their true selves. The webcomic does a great job of showing the complexities and intersectional approaches of the 1940s bar scene.
SuperButch, an ongoing webcomic, dusts off American queer history that has been censored or obscured. Even Alicia and Tammy are surprised when Sticks mentions that gay people got married in secret back then, even though it’s forbidden. Queer people in the bar scene are demanding separate names to protect their identities (like “Sticks” for Lillian). Some of these people are unfortunately arrested or worse during police raids. But then comes SuperButch, a superhero who stops the cops from harming bar patrons. A hero whose super strength seems more real than myth. It seems no one knows SuperButch’s true identity, but Sticks, eager to tell a big story, is determined to find her.
An inclusive and indispensable look at a nearly forgotten part of American queer history.
SuperButch by Becky Hawkins and Barry Deutsch is available online.
For more great webcomic recommendations, check out our Wednesday Webcomics Archive! You can also check out more Queer comic book recommendations here.
Author: Brahidaliz Martinez
Brahidaliz (pronounced Bra-da-leez) is a 2019 graduate of American University’s MFA in Creative Writing program. Their cross-genre chapbook, Coquí’s Song, is forthcoming (2023) with Mason Jar Press.
Location: DC Metro Area
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