Ashley Neuhaus 01-APR-2013 I always get excited when I see LGBTQ comics and characters so I was really thrilled when I saw a tweet about a Kickstarter project that focuses on the non-binary aspect of sexuality. Or as Kate Leth put it, this is “a comics anthology examining the world outside of ‘gay’ and ‘straight,” between a 0 and 6 on the Kinsey scale.” ANYTHING THAT LOVES will be published through Northwest Press.
Zan Christensen is clearly passionate about this topic and you can tell from how well he explains the project on the Kickstarter campaign page. The message of this book is a positive one and its goal is to bring people together and form allies rather than keeping people on the fringe of things. The list of contributors is already amazing and Christensen said that there may be some more added to that list. The campaign for ANYTHING THAT LOVES ends on April 29. Some of the great rewards for backers are physical copies of the book, copies of other Northwest Press books, t-shirts, and even a dinner with Zan Christensen himself who was kind enough to answer a few questions I had.
AN: What do you hope to accomplish with this book?
ZC: I would really like to start a more in-depth discussion about sexuality and identity and how we can get to a place where we’re all one people instead of so strongly segmented. Being gay and coming out at a young age in the late 80s, I experienced it as a sort of emigration from a straight country to a gay one (with very strong border protections on each side!) There is an ingrained defensiveness in the gay community, borne of years of pushing back against the intolerant and hostile elements of the straight world.
I think that we’re heading into a new era, though, where there are far more allies than enemies, and mistrusting bisexual and straight people is doing way more harm than good. We have to find a way to bring our allies *into* our community instead of letting them cheer at a distance… or worse, be turned away.
AN: Why do you think something like this hasn’t been done before?
ZC: For a long time, gay content in comics was very rare, until people noticed that and stepped in to do it themselves. The same thing has happened with transgender work over the past ten years. Maybe we’ve finally reached the tipping point where enough people want to read stories about sex and sexuality that approach it in a different way, without labels. I have no doubt that everyone who’s contributing to this book is doing so because *they* want an anthology that speaks to them and their lives.
AN: As a gay man, have you gotten much backlash for creating a book that focuses on bisexuality?
ZC: I kind of joke about it on the Kickstarter page—“What’s a gay guy doing editing a bisexual anthology, anyway? What’s this got to do with you?”—but I’ve actually gotten nothing but positive reactions so far. I think people understand that I’m not just checking off a litany of letters on a list and finally getting around to “B”, but really trying to approach sexuality from a different perspective entirely.
AN: How many pages is the book?
ZC: It will probably be around 144 pages, but we won’t know exactly until all the final work comes in, which will be in early May. I knew that once the project got more visibility that we might have inquiries from talented people who wanted to participate, so I wanted to be open to some late additions.
AN: Is it strictly comics or is there prose included?
ZC: My whole life is comics, pretty much, so Anything That Loves is all comics. All the Northwest Press books have prose forewords, though, usually from a prominent someone outside the comics world, and we’re working on getting someone fantastic for that, now.
AN: Are all the comics one page or are there any stories that span over a few pages?
ZC: A lot of the contributors come from a webcomic or comic strip background and have some brilliant one-and-done stories which will be peppered throughout the book. But we also have some 10, 12, even 16-page stories that take their time and give you a lot of nuance and complexity. It will be a nice mix.
AN: Did any of the contributors approach you and ask to be part of this project?
ZC: About a year ago, when I first had the idea for Anything That Loves, I wanted most of the contributions to be from bisexual artists, and had a pretty short list of people to ask. I think that was a direct result of me being so involved with “GAY COMICS!”, writ large, for so many years; I was working with and supporting the people who were defining themselves very publicly by their sexual identity.
But a lot of the people in this book are ones who don’t feel like they fit a sexuality label, or at least don’t feel the need to define themselves with one, so a majority of the contributors were suggested by other contributors. Erika Moen and Randall Kirby in particular provided some names of fantastic talents that I might never have discovered on my own.
AN: What are your convention plans for this year, besides SDCC?
ZC: Northwest Press became my day job in January, so I’ve turned my convention schedule “up to eleven”, so to speak. Last year we did 14 shows and thought that was pretty good, but this year we have a full two-dozen on the schedule, including the L.A. Times Festival of Books, Stumptown Comics Fest, the Toronto Comic Arts Festival, Alternative Press Expo, and GeekGirlCon.
AN: Where can people find you on the internet?
ZC: We just launched a brand-new website in February with complete info on all the books (both digital and print), big beautiful artwork, and a great online store. You can find it at northwestpress.com. If you’ve got an iPad, you can also find every Northwest Press book in the iBookstore.