Every now and then, I come across a gem of a Kickstarter recommendation that’s too good to pass up. Considering that most of my backer history consists of comic books, The Out Side piquing my interest is on brand. A comics anthology told from within the LGBTQ+ community? Sign me up! I ended up opting in for two copies: One to keep, one to share, and the rest is history. Or so I thought. Over a year after a successful run on Kickstarter — achieving over double their goal — The Out Side: Trans & Nonbinary Comics reemerged, bigger and better.
Back with an additional 64 pages, The Out Side: Trans & Nonbinary Comics left the Kickstarter pond to join the ocean of bookstores and big box retailers. And I have a confession: I actually didn’t have a chance to read it until after the new version came out. However, I did read both of them back to back. Now, I’m here to share thoughts about it all.
In this vibrant and affirming comics anthology, 29 trans & nonbinary comic artists share their personal journeys of self-discovery and acceptance.
Featuring the work of Sage Coffey, Kyla Aiko, and Coco Ouwerkerk, The Out Side: Trans & Nonbinary Comics includes 29 creators’ tales of self-love and affirmation and detailing their experiences with gender and identity. Originally published as a successful Kickstarter campaign, this expanded edition includes comics by Dana Simpson (bestselling author of Phoebe and Her Unicorn), Aidyn Huynh (Snailords), Wren Chavers, and more.
Equal parts encouraging, comforting, and life-affirming, The Out Side is a love letter to the trans and nonbinary community, designed to inspire anyone who may be struggling with their own identity and to help educate those who seek greater understanding. As artist Julia Kaye writes in the book’s introduction: “I’m so glad this book exists. It’s a loud proclamation of our existence in the face of a culture that has for too long ignored our experiences.”
Reading ‘The Out Side: Trans & Nonbinary Comics’
With 11 more comics than the Kickstarter edition, The Out Side took a collection that was already great and made it even better. In the expanded version, the order of comics is slightly altered for its benefit. The book is cohesive in its explorations of identity themes, starting with the stress and coping mechanisms of acceptance. From there, it gradually evolves into tales of self-expression, presentation, gender norms, and revelations. It touches on startling epiphanies, the complicated connection between culture and the true self, and even stories of leaving loved ones behind.
What I really love about this curated stack of autobiographical tales is that they don’t shy away from messy. They don’t try to wrap everything up with a big, fancy red bow of conclusion. It’s a refreshingly authentic exploration of human-ness and how we figure things out along the way. Even if we don’t have an exact resolution, we can reach a place of being okay with that in the moment. This book lets readers know that you don’t have to have THE answer. Sometimes the answer is no answer. I appreciate that it openly allows the vagueness of humanity to just be its own thing — as it should be.
Inspiring Illustrations of Identities
The Out Side is full of beautiful works from a variety of artists, including illustrators, graphic designers, concept and comic artists, cartoonists, novelists, and everything in between. The assortment of talent results in gorgeous spreads of artwork from cover to cover, and each stands out on its own. There were a number of works that stuck with me. (I think the same would be true for anyone who picks up a copy of the book.) Some stories made me laugh, others made me cry, and I couldn’t help but admire the imagination and skill that’s in the hands of this group of people.
Between art styles, storytelling, and comic formats, The Out Side spans an artistic spectrum from traditional cartoons to realism. I was familiar with some of the creators thanks to my time reading webcomics, but the anthology also introduced me to so many more. Fortunately, each piece opens with a blurb about the artist along with where you can find more of their work. That means they’re just a few taps of the keyboard away.
Overall, I simply enjoyed The Out Side as a writer, an out-of-practice artist, and a member of the LGBTQ+ community. The collection is insightful, inspiring, and enlighting. It’s definitely a must-read if you love colorful comic anthologies and want to see the very varied perspectives of trans and nonbinary experiences across the board.
ONE FAVORITE LINE:
“Like my gender, I contain multitudes that will only continue to expand as I get older and wiser.”
— “Cat Today & Human Tomorrow” by J. Fiveash
You Might Enjoy ‘The Out Side: Trans & Nonbinary Comics’ If You…
- Are seeking out stories told specifically about trans and non-binary experiences
- Enjoy comic anthologies that showcase a variety of artists and art styles
- Enjoy authentic stories expressed in diverse voices, tones, and creative structures
- Are an aspiring artist, graphic designer, storyteller, cartoonist, or illustrator
- Are exploring your own LGBTQ+ identity
- Are a parent of trans and non-binary youth in search of books that are entertaining, teachable, and relevant