THOUGHT BUBBLE FORTNIGHT! When I Was Me: Moments of Gender Euphoria is the first comic anthology from Edinburgh-based indie comics publisher Quindrie Press. It Kickstarted in September, making substantially more than double its print goal. Unfortunately, the printed copies aren’t ready yet, but you can take a look at a preview copy at the Quindrie Press table at Thought Bubble – 14/15 in the ComiXology Originals Hall. You can also pre-order the book here.
If you know a little bit about the trans experience, you’ve probably heard of gender dysphoria, the often overwhelming and debilitating feeling of wrongness about one’s body and presentation that is at the centre of many trans stories. But the transformingly positive experiences of gender euphoria explored in this comic, focus on the flip side of that coin. How good it feels to be you, when you get a glimpse of who that is, or take that glimpse and make it a life.
“I look a certain way. A way that means I have to compromise with how I feel vs how I’m perceived” starts Eve Greenwood on their page, before blowing that feeling away with joyfully punk typography and dance moves.
Art by Amanda Castillo
The book collects around 70 one-page comics from trans creators from around the world and of different ages (although quite a lot are young and quite a lot are Scottish – since that’s where the publisher is based), divided into loosely chronological sections – Memory, Discovery, Exploration, Presentation, Acceptance, Community, Family, Intimacy, and Freedom but with themes circling and bleeding between. Which feels right, since all these things connect.
In the early sections, moments feel stolen and tender. Artists look backward to their first experiences of evolving selfhood, reminding us that the littlest things can make the biggest difference. As the book rolls on, there is a trend of coming together, stories of finding home in queer spaces, and making your place in heteronormative society your own. Themes of community weave through the second half of the collection, each page like bricks building a safe space of togetherness.
Art by NJ Barna
In Adam Green’s story about how his boyfriend helps him overcome his hesitation to take off his shirt at the beach, he says ‘I know it sounds silly to have found affirmation in mutual discomfort… But I never know where I’m going to find it some days. Comfort comes and surprises me every day.’ Which I just thought was lovely.
There are a lot of dream sequences, but whether asleep or awake the settings are broad. Winter Jay’s tabletop roleplay game, Hesitantdoodle’s dreamy Shakespearian school times, Tamar’s glimpse in a mirror, Amy-Lynn Greig’s arcade dance machine, Noelle Hepworth’s longsword fencing (not innuendo), Harry Josephine Giles’ hill-walking, put all together amply demonstrate that not all trans stories are the same, and the things that make us who we are, are never simple.
Art by Cat Laird
Some highlights for me included the slow, sudden Chrysanthemum blossoming of joy in Cat Laird’s heart – a very beautiful image; Hari (Finding Home) Conner’s atmospheric slice-of-life piece is achingly tender; Erika Price turns her horror stylings to self-affirmation and it’s glorious; as an artist, I felt deeply for Kale de Wild’s ode to their hands and Alex Assan’s ode to the selfie is equally poignant.
Although I would love to see some of these one-page wonders developed into longer pieces, I think it was the right choice to keep this consistent., It allows so many voices to be heard, and suits the focus on moments of time, moments of euphoria.
Art by Rafael G
May comfort come and surprise you today.
As well as Quindrie Press in the ComiXology Originals Hall, you’ll also be able to catch a few of the When I Was Me contributors at Thought Bubble this weekend: Erika Price: ComiXology 105, hesitantdoodle: ComiXology 39, Jua OK!: Redshirt 53A, Lio Pressland: ComiXology 8.
Pre-order the book here.
Adam Green, Alex Assan, Amanda Castillo, Amy-Lynn Greig, Ang Hui Qing, Apollo Baltazar, AriadneTzn, Ashley E Caswell, BAPOGICHI, BaronBoar, Blop, Blue, C-Jay Quigley, C. A. P. Ward, Cat Laird, dairysam, Dante Luiz, Dodo, Ella Cesari, Erika Price, Eve Greenwood, Fanfi, Filipa Estrela, G.C. Houle, GalacticJonah, Gillian Pascasio (7CLUBS), Gray, Guist, Hari Conner, Harry Josephine Giles, hesitantdoodle, Ian Pinkis, Incendavery, Jade ‘Jude’ Sarson, Jae Zander Kitinoja, Jaime Dear, Jaime Mosquera, Jay Arthur Simpson, Jey Pawlik, Jua OK!, Kale de Wild, Kimball Anderson, Knack Whittle, Lio Pressland, Luna Grey, Maxine Frizz, Morgan Mei, Naomi Rubin, NJ Barna, Noah Schiatti, Noel Fox, Noelle Hepworth, Otava Heikkilä, Pa-Luis, Peleg, Rafael G., Ray Kao, Rhael McGregor, Ribbons, Rotem, Rowan Oats, SAINT VAGRANT, Sfé R. Monster, Simon K, Skylar Swift Kardon, Spire Eaton, Steve Stivaktis, Tamar, TOR WAR, Tori A. Rielly, Tzor Edery, Val Wise, Winona Powers, Winter J. Kiakas • Quindrie Press, £15.00
Visit the Quindrie Press store online here
Review by Jenny Robins