PALM SPRINGS — In the past few years, queer representation in mainstream comics has seen a steady and much-needed increase not only in the number of LGBTQ characters, but also in the number of successful books penned by queer creators.
For 15 years, Prism Comics has been watching the progress on the front lines, spotlighting and supporting independent queer comic book creators and characters at conventions across the country, including the biggest one, Comic-Con International: San Diego.
The nonprofit, all-volunteer organization host informational booths that promote the creators and their works.
Prism Comics will be at Long Beach Comic-Con Saturday and Sunday.
Prism Comics formed in 2003 after an online community of mostly queer comic book fans were looking for more representation within the genre they loved.
“Prism Comics let other comic book fans know that they were not alone, and that there were LGBTQIA comics and comics creators out there,” said Ted Abenheim, president of Prism Comics, who joined in 2009.
Abenheim was interviewed in August at Comic Con Palm Springs, an annual comic book convention in the desert city, where Prism Comics had one of the largest booths.
Their display was stocked with dozens of indie comic books that covered a variety of queer topics, including coming out, family relationships, dating and youth, and school issues.
The rise in queer representation in the mainstream has been steady for several years.
In 2011, Batwoman became the first lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender character to headline a monthly comic book from a mainstream publisher, in this case DC Comics.
A Batwoman TV series is in development at The CW.
Green Lantern, one of DC Comics’ oldest characters, was relaunched in 2012 as a proud, mighty, and openly gay superhero.
Last year, Marvel Comics released America Chavez, the first, lesbian Latina superhero for the company.
For fans who can’t attend conventions, Prism Comics maintains a large listing of queer comics creators and their work and has an online store where creators can sell their work.
Prism Comics also raises money for its Queer Press Grant. Each spring, the organization awards an independent comics creator $2,000 to help publish their queer-interest work.
Prism Comics’ work also has been recognized by various organizations, including The Will Eisner Comic Book Industry Awards — arguably the biggest award in the comic book industry.
“We’re seeing more acceptance and diversity,” Abenheim said. “That’s been a great change.”