Spotlight: Shout Out Anthology and Guest Post from Marie Anello!
Welcome to a very special post featuring a review of the comics anthology Shout Out, courtesy of the lovely folks at Toronto-based publisher, TO Comix Press, as well as a guest post from writer and actress Marie Anello, whose story (with Liz Parlett) is featured in the anthology!
Shout Out (Comics Anthology) by Andrew Wheeler (Editor), Joamette Gil and BC Holmes (Assistant Editors), Forward by Nalo Hopkinson
Source: Hardcopy courtesy of TO Comix Press. Thank you!
Publication: May 1, 2019 by TO Comix Press
Join us on the adventures of young demon hunters, star-crossed Viking lovers, and cyberpunk street artists as we invite you into new worlds where brave heroes with diverse queer identities demonstrate the strength of their hearts and the power of their dreams!
Find your place alongside ace necromancers, glamorous jazz musicians, fey outsiders, friendly monsters, and a superhero still finding his way out of the phone booth.
Spotlighting the work of diverse voices, this collection includes Kieron Gillen (The Wicked + The Divine), Kelly & Nichole Matthews (Lumberjanes/Gotham Academy), Killian Ng (Legend of Korra: Turf Wars), and many others.
Our stories have heroes who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, non-binary, gender non-conforming, two-spirit, and asexual, from creators who share those identities.
Shout Out is an anthology of comics tales for queer readers aged 13-17, created by queer creative teams, and starring queer-identified teenage protagonists. The November 2018 Kickstarter campaign was supported by 1,100 backers, and raised 162% of it’s funding goal!
Growing up queer can be a very lonely experience. It can be difficult to find other people like you in the real world, and it can be just as difficult to see yourself represented in fictional worlds — especially when queer stories are often treated as unsuitable for younger readers.
With Shout Out, we invited queer writers and artists from around the world to tell the genre stories that they wish they had grown up with; stories of romance, adventure, and friendship, with young queer heroes at their heart. We want future generations of young queer readers to know that they can be heroes too, and that their stories deserve to be told.
With a tremendous and far-ranging roster of authors and artists, the Shout Out comics anthology is an exceptional read. Featuring “eighteen LGBTQ2SIA+ stories crafted by award-winning international creators”, this momentous aimed-for-teens-and-up anthology includes stories by Killian Ng, Kelly and Nichole Matthews, Joamette Gil, Sunny Ôchumuk, Shaina Lu, Derrick Chow, Elodie Chen, and more phenomenal writers and artists. Shout Out contains a glorious mix of genre stories- everything from romance, horror, historical, adventure, fantasy, sci-fi, etc. As mentioned in the ‘Inspiration’ notes above, all of the stories in the collection feature diverse queer heroes and supporting characters: notably, the kinds of stories that were not available or accessible to the contributing artists and writers while they themselves were growing up.
With eighteen stories in Shout Out- all so very different!- there really is something for every reader, no matter your genre preference. (And if you’re like me, you may take to and enjoy all the genres on offer!). While solid all around, there were some particular story stand outs for me in this collection, and include (in no particular order): Amaranthine, How to Summon a Demon, Curio, Fifteen Minutes or Less, The Fisher and the Jeweler, Show Me Your Teeth, Sunlight, Three’s a Charm, Love in the Cloud, and Shine So Bright. Overall, the stories in Shout Out move from strength to strength- a testament to just how strong, vibrant, unique, and profusely talented all of the contributing authors and artists are. Uplifting, funny, romantic, surprising, and everything in-between, Shout Out is a gorgeous and noteworthy collection with needed- necessary- voices, characters and stories.
Guest Post from Marie Anello, writer of the Shout Out story ‘Fifteen Minutes or Less’
I was thirteen when a copy of Rumiko Takahashi’s Ranma ½ was placed in my hands. I remember the inarticulate thrill I felt reading a comic where a cocky main character who had zany martial arts adventures also shifted gender seamlessly. And I absolutely adored Akane, the feisty, capable girl who fell in love with that main character (not to mention my first exposure to the Bisexual Bob haircut). But I also look back at that time and remember that no matter what preteen fantasies took root in my brain, Ranma ½ was never meant to be read as a story about queerness. It was not interested in reflecting my experience, nor were those characters made with a kid like me in mind. As someone who didn’t come out until well into adulthood, I sometimes wonder if things would’ve been different if I’d had stories that actually reflected who I was. Would I have been more accepting of myself, more open to even the idea of being bisexual, if the media I consumed had been made specifically and empathetically for a young queer person still exploring their identity?
So when I saw the call for submissions for Shout Out, my first thought was: This is what I’d needed back then. I think I still needed it. My partner and I had been collaborating on comics for several years but had never submitted anything to an anthology, and we wanted a chance to work on something new. When we got the news that we’d been accepted (on Pride Weekend no less) I was ecstatic! I was also terrified. After all, I was being tasked with writing something explicitly for queer teens that would actually be read by them. I wanted to tell a story that affirmed queerness for those teens while also completely normalizing it. I wanted to tell a story that was funny and exciting and romantic, somehow all crammed into ten pages!!!
What I wrote was a story about two teenagers who love and support each other, while also performing sick martial arts stunts on a hover-scooter. I wrote the feisty, capable, bisexual action star I had so desperately wanted to be when I was a child. I will always be grateful to TO Comix Press and Shout Out for giving Hospitality Jones her first stage where she could shine. I hope that the young people who read this amazing collection, as well as adults, see the myriad ways that queer people can be heroes at the center of their own amazing adventures. I hope they keep going and discover the multitude of amazing stories by queer creators that are being told right now.
And most of all, I want all the kids out there who don’t have a name yet for what they’re feeling to see these stories, and maybe see the path to a future they never could have imagined.
Marie is a professional writer and actress based in New York. Her credits include comic recommendations and artist spotlights for The Absolute and book reviews for IndieReader.
Bonus! If you go to the TO Comics Press site for Shout Out and scroll until you hit ‘Read Inside‘, you can pore over TWO full comics found in Shout Out (two which I adored!), including Amaranthine by Joamette Gil, Nichole and Kelly Matthews, and How To Summon a Demon by CJ Walker.
I received a copy of Shout Out courtesy of TO Comix Press in exchange for an honest review and for the purposes of this post. All opinions and comments are my own. Thank you to Steven Andrews at TO Comix Press and Marie Anello for organizing the featured guest post.