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Trans Pizza Winner

Hey, look! I’m on the TVs!

It was, of course, a delightful experience to be interviewed about the cool things Lilah Sturges is doing with #transpizza. She’s a treasure, and “Trans Pizza Winner” is a title I wear with pride. Go on and watch.


I was recently reading about a larp that was specifically about motherhood, and it was…fine? It didn’t describe my experience with motherhood, but I’m sure it described someone’s. Larping is a strange beast, with very particular limitations. The representation of a child in a game about motherhood is a particularly difficult one—to have another player be the child doesn’t feel right. This larp decided to do away with a child representation altogether, and focus on times when the child isn’t around. Which is fine, but also not my experience. I’m writing this now while my mother-in-law takes my daughter to music class, but she’s still here, really. My daughter is still present, even when she’s gone. And to gloss over that seems…false? At the very least, not my experience.

With that in mind, and my tongue more than half in my cheek, I jotted down some thoughts on a larp about motherhood, that I will probably never write:

– Everyone gets a die. All the dice are different: 20-sided, 4-sided, etc. Roll the die to see how many steps you can take each turn.

– Each player gets a 15lb weight, a full glass of water, & 2 paper towels

– You cannot put down the weight. You cannot drink the water until the end of the session. If you spill the water, you have to clean it up.

– Players choose a nursery rhyme from a list provided.

– Each player must choose from the other players:

* Someone they want to say something important to.
* Someone they’d like to know better
* Someone they’re trying to avoid

– The game starts with all the players against the wall in a room, spaced far apart

– A timer is set for 3 minutes.

– When the time goes off, you must move the number of steps you rolled earlier along the wall in a clockwise direction.

– When you run out of steps, you must recite your nursery rhyme 5 times.

– You can only talk to someone if they are next you, you are not reciting your nursery rhyme, or you are not cleaning a spill you made.

– You cannot talk about your weight.

– Play continues at 3-minute increments for 1 hour

– At the end of the hour, the players put down their weight, drink the water they have left, and sit down for one last 3-minute interval in silence

‪- Then the players pick up their weight, say their nursery rhyme one last time, and leave

If anyone plays this, let me know. I have absolutely no desire to do so myself.

I finally finished Jeff Smith’s BONE, which is faintly ridiculous considering how much that series meant to me as a teenager and how many years I’ve owned the omnibus. It’s very good, as I am sure you have heard elsewhere. I should have finished it sooner.

One thing that struck me is just how small the story is. Which is an odd thing to say about a book whose chief plot is averting the end of the world, but it’s true. Everything, from the Bones getting kicked out Boneville to the saving of the world climax is stripped down to its component parts, making it really a story about the pain caused by the lies two small families tell each other. The end of the world, the fantasy tropes, all of that is set dressing for the wounded emotions of a handful of characters. Which is why its great.

An important lesson that I’m certainly taking to heart, as I am currently plotting out a new fantasy set dressing for wounded emotions…

Good luck with the dragon.


A Pretty Good Year

They say you were something in those formative years.

I spent the last days of 2019 back in North Carolina. I refer to the rural town where my sister still lives as “where I grew up,” though we didn’t move there until I was 12. Those teen years count for a lot, though, and it remains a pivotal location of my young life in a way our house up the curvy Appalachian mountain road does not.This was the first place I could truly explore on my own. The town itself, now a bustling refugee for folks who have chosen not to live in the larger cities nearby, wasn’t much to speak of when I lived there. But the dense nature that surrounded it was worth wandering. I have fond memories of hiking back down by the river, nakedly trespassing on other folk’s property in search of something to kill the afternoon. You can still do that, but now its a public trail, and it leads to the organic grocery store.At some point in my midteens, my impish spirit of adventure curdled, and walks to the woods began to have different purposes altogether. I remember dangling off the cliff face, my right hand gripping a root, the only thing that was keeping my body from crashing down onto the rocks below. I remember trying to find the strength to let go. Or, failing in that, the strength to climb back up.

I climbed up, obviously. Up and out of that town and began the process of unearthing the parts of me that a denial bred of survival buried. I left. Though I still visit for holidays.

My sister still lives in the house I was a teenager in. Our first night there, I found myself walking around the yard and thought “I was a girl here,” which felt right in way that almost embarrasses me to think about. I was a girl there. I also was not. That dissonance is a hard thing to parse, but I the very least I can be a girl there now. And that feels the most right of all, a calm center amidst the storm of discomfort that I associate with the place. It felt weird to feel comfortable there, but we’ve both changed, and no longer look as we once did.  And I have finally resigned myself to being a visitor, no longer trying to make a place that didn’t want me a home.

But with that comfort came something else, an unshakable desire to be seen, to be acknowledged. I wanted the town itself to acknowledge who I am now, somehow. Some representative to see me now, and claim me as more than just a visitor. The double edged sword of trans-existence; the desire to be recognized and unrecognizable at the same time.

I met up with some old friends, who were as overjoyed to see me as I was them. But it wasn’t quite what I was looking for. After all, most of them were visitors themselves, having made lives in other towns, other states, other countries, only to be drawn back into orbit by the holiday’s pull. Seeing them was wonderful, but not what I was strangely aching for.

I did finally get what I was looking for, but not in anyway I expected.

A trans pre-teen clocked me as I came out of a toy store on the last day of our trip. She came over, nervously hovering. She very much wanted to ask me something that she didn’t have the words for, I could see that. But we did speak to each other for a few minutes about the pig puppet I had purchased for my daughter on impulse. She helped me name it–“Pebbles”–and then quickly ran away.

There’s a lot of talk about how visibility isn’t enough, and that’s absolutely true. But I also think that it’s very easy to forget how important visibility is. I don’t know what it would have meant to see someone like myself as I am now, with a wife and child and a general aura of accomplishment, when I was this girl’s age. She’s already got an edge on me, thanks to 25 years of social progress and increasingly easy access to information. I couldn’t have started transitioning when she did, no matter how much I wanted to. But even with her headstart, it was clear that seeing me, a stranger who was nonetheless connected by ways neither of us expected or intended, meant something to her.

I didn’t have a chance to say this before you ran away, but it was very nice to meet you, Lily. Thank you for seeing me.

Looking back on 2019, it appears I spent the lion’s share of it raising my delightful child, writing my dream project–more on that in a moment–and getting more involved with my local queer community. This is a fantastic way spend a year, if I do say so myself. Try it if you can. A pretty good year. After the rollercoaster that was 2018, I take a year spent achieving modest goals and leave it at that.

I wrote a great many words that will not see the light of day until months or even years from now, but I have a handful of things you can read immediately, if you are so inclined:

Gordon Ramsay Skewers Classic Books
Benign Situations That Could Easily Turn into Horror Films
Lesser Known Kingdom Hearts Worlds
Games to Play with your (Evil) Genius Toddler
Literary Characters Give Dating Advice
Gothic Tales of the Thrift Shop
What If George R. R. Martin Had Written Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle?
Coffee Orders of Fictional Characters
Terrify Your Friends With This Halloween Party How-To!

And there were two installments of Frankenstien’s Support Group, Chapters 18 and 19, both of which are extremely good in that monsters-and-feelings vein you know I like so much. There’ll be more of those in 2020, mark my words.

Speaking of that dream project, Publisher’s Weekly had nice article about what’s coming ahead for DC Comics, and they mention Galaxy: The Prettiest Star. If y’all wanted to know what it was about, well, here ya’ go:

The second YA title, Galaxy: The Prettiest Star, is written by Jadzia Axelrod and illustrated by Jess Taylor. It is about a princess-in-exile whose home planet is under attack as she is kept safe as a teenaged boy on Earth, with a normal life and a female love interest. Her life goes into turmoil when her true identity is revealed.
More than that, well, you’ll have to wait for the book, won’t you? Summer 2021 is the current release plan, and trust me, it’ll be worth the wait.Good luck with the dragon.


Working With Superman

The news is out, y’all: I’m writing a book for DC Comics! Which is kinda something I’ve been preparing for my entire life.

And let me the first to tell you, it is utterly wild to be working with the Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman company. I am absolutely thrilled.

But what about the book, you ask? Here’s what I can tell you about it:

– The full title is Galaxy: The Prettiest Star.
– The artist is Cait Zellers. Cait is amazing and the work she is doing for Galaxy is stellar.
– It comes out in the fall of 2020. Since I already had a few people ask, no, you cannot pre-order it yet.
– The main character is not who you think it is. Whoever you’re imagining, it’s not them. I promise.

That’s about it! Everything else will have to wait until we get closer to publication. But that’s a lot more than I was able to say about it last week, so let us relish in this small victory!

Good luck with the dragon.


Little Hurt

My therapist asked me to do something creative about the ‘little hurt” we all keep inside. So, in the grand tradition of so many queer and trans cartoonists, I decided to have a talk with my younger self.

 

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/Hurt4

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The Brilliance Of A Translator


PROJECT: STARDUST has moved another glacial step toward completion. I mentioned how I couldn’t talk about it last time, and spoke briefly about it in August, and before that, last January, because being a Professional Creative Person probably contains about as much waiting as it does creating. And now, after a brief moment of contract-related excitement, the waiting begins again. So time spent waiting. There will be come a point very soon where STARDUST will be in my hands instead of someone else’s, and then it will feel like there is will be no time at all. Which will be followed by even more waiting. But eventually, after all that waiting, STARDUST will be something you can hold in your hands, which is all that I want.

Until then, here’s some other things for you to read. There’s a new FRANKENSTEIN’S SUPPORT GROUP I’m quite pleased with, as well as articles about Gordon Ramsay swearing at books, the horror of brushing your teeth, and Disney properties that wouldn’t make good Kingdom Hearts levels, over at Quirk Books.

My wife has started reading Timothy Zahn’s THRAWN book, and there’s a bit in there that is so brilliant I’m going to have to steal it. Being alien even by STAR WARS standards, Zahn has Thrawn accompanied through his travels by a translator, who lets him in on the details and history of each culture and noteworthy individual they encounter. This means that Zahn has a plot-relevant reason for info-dumping a bunch of world-building. More than that, Zahn has turned info-dumping into a story element itself, based on what Thrawn is ignorant of, what his translator chooses to reveal, what the translator keeps to himself, and what the translator himself misses due to his own limited POV.

I’ve always been fascinated by guide books, of the narrative implied by the way you talk about a place. By making your guide book an actual person, that narrative stops being implied. And to have it be a translator, to have someone literally have to interpret the designs of one character for another, is ripe with potential. I’ve got a fantasy story in mind that would benefit from such thing.

Fortunately, translators have existed since people started talking to another. None of us have to credit Timothy Zahn if we use this idea. I myself am foreswearing reading THRAWN myself, despite my love of the blue-skinned schemer, just to maintain plausible deniability.


February 1st was Hourly Comic Day, which I have participated in before. This year added Wednesday into the mix, which offered a much different day than the past. If you’re curious about how my day goes–in comic form!–you can read this year’s hourlies here.

The nice thing about Hourly Comic Day is it forces you to pay attention to your life in ways you normally don’t. It’s easy to get caught up in the broad strokes, and miss the details. Thinking about how you might illustrate any particular experience makes you realize how wonderful those details are. My life is pretty great right now. I hope yours is, too.

Good luck with the dragon.


Hourly Comic Day, 2019

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6:27am – Family Breakfast

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7:12am – Wednesday Selects Quality Literature

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8:44am – Cane Walkin’

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9:29am – Watching Sesame Street/Drawing Comics

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10:40am – Unexpected Naptime Means Unexpected Worktime

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11:27am – Pickle Break

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12:12pm – Checking On Wednesday

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1:42pm – Storytime

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2:01pm – Innovative Song Lyrics

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3:29pm – Important Conversations

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4:57pm – Wednesday Learns A New Word

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5:23pm – Shoveling The Sidewalk To Cameron Esposito

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6:39pm – Have Cane, Will Travel

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7:21pm – Marvel Strike Force Blues

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8:33pm – The Negotiations Begin

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9:09pm – All My Lullabies Are By The Mountain Goats


New Year, New Pajamas


Happy New Year! I have new pajamas. One should always start the new year with new pajamas.

2019’s pajamas are purple, with little hedgehogs on them. The hedgehogs’ bodies are made up of flowers, implying either a conjoining of animal and vegetable that no god ever intended, or simply a group of critters unusually taken with self-decoration. Either way, I approve. There’s a story in both.

Forgive me, reader, it has been months since my last newsletter. There is, obviously, a lot to unpack that happened between now and the end of August. A non-exhaustive list: I made Halloween costumes for my family,  I met with the people who will eventually be publishing STARDUST (remember, not its actual title), things got bad for trans people, my mother passed away, I had my computer break–the repair of which was so costly, there was a moment right before Christmas where were seriously wondering if we could afford food. Oh, and I’ve been testing out a new name.

Hello, I’m Jadzia. We’ve met.

Honestly, I don’t want to talk about it (in the case of STARDUST, I can’t talk about it). Let’s leave the past in the past. It’s a new year, with new pajamas. Let’s move on.

But, I will say this: I don’t think I was recognized at my mother’s memorial.

As a trans person, this is, of course, the dream. One wants to go through life unencumbered by the baggage of a gender presentation that never quite fit. We had very nice family portraits made years ago when my father was still alive, and I said it was okay to put one of them up in the memorial. There is a odd measure of comfort that folks did not connect me the slump-postured bearded boy with a smiling mouth but painfully hurt eyes, even if that was no doubt the expression I was making for most of the evening. I wore red and black, like I did in the portrait, a bit of children’s TV-show costuming continuity. Connection through broad shapes and colors.

One person asked my relationship to the deceased. When I told them I was her daughter, they said “Oh! You must be Kate!”

Must I? Is too much to ask that my sister not be my mother’s only daughter? She held that title for almost 40 years. Surely she care share it. Surely.

If there ever was a time to for people to look at the woman I’ve become and see the boy I was, it was then, at that memorial. But that may have indeed been too much.

While my brother and sister, recognizable despite years of fluctuating weights and various hair experiments, were who everyone flocked to and offered condolences, I was left aimless. I floated around the room like a ghost hostess, thanking extended family members for coming. Why was I the butler at my mother’s memorial? Something to do, I suppose. A middle child to the end, I held my grieving in, and made sure everyone else was comfortable.

But even this has it’s limits. We had put a display of the quilts Mama had made in a corner, and I was sitting there as everyone was starting to pack up. When it came time to fold up the quilts, I dutifully handed the one next to me over. And then, holding this quilt that she meticulously sewed with her own two hands, I lost it. I started crying and couldn’t stop. Mama would never make another quilt. This was the last of them, the last of her. I could feel her echo when held that quilt, the remains of her touch.  I was not holding her, only the part of the world that wouldn’t exist without her. And now there would be no more of those.

My mother’s friend June, who once put up my drawings on her refrigerator, sat there with me, letting me pour it all out. How fitting that I get my cathartic memorial moment after everyone is gone. The chairs are being put away, the tablecloths are being folded, and I finally have no other responsibility but to weep into a crumpled quilt.

We didn’t hold this memorial at our home, as we did when my father died. Cancer ate him alive in tiny bites, like a swarm of ants, giving us plenty of time to plan. Mama mailed my daughter an envelope of stickers one morning and was gone that afternoon. Thanks to theater-friends in the area, I found a place that would let us hold the memorial for free. I found a caterer. I wrote her obituary. I did all of this. It may be crass to bring this up, but I’m doing it anyway. I bring this up because I want credit. Because I want acknowledgement. Because I want to be recognized as my mother’s daughter, mourning for her loss.

I signed enough documents identifying me as her son in the days before to have this distinction. I think I earned it.

My New Year Resolutions are nothing special, this year. I want to meet all my deadlines. I want to take all my medications when I’m supposed to. I want to get out of bed when the alarm goes off. I want to be the person I plan myself to be, the woman with hedgehogs on her pajamas who answers to Jadzia.

Let’s see if I can make it.


How You Got Your Superpowers


I have such news, folks! SUCH NEWS! News that I CANNOT TELL YOU ABOUT. But know now that it is wonderful news, involving STARDUST.

If you will recall, STARDUST,  is the queer-in-every-sense project that I last spoke about in…January it turns out (being a Professional Creative Person is such a Long Game, innit?). I can’t talk about it because that’s how it goes when you’re working with a major publishing company. But! Know that it is wonderful news that brings the project ever closer to being a Real Thing That You Can Read, which is honestly the best thing a writer can hope for.

It’s still not a sure thing yet–there are so many possible bumps in the road that might derail this queer little buggy, you have no idea–but we did pop some champagne. You gotta take your celebrations where you can.

There’s been two Frankenstein’s Support Group For Misunderstood Monsters comics since the last newsletter. The first is an examination of modern monster-dating conventions and some personal history of FSG’s resident mummy, Imhotep. The second involves Emi helping Ginger spruce up her image.


I decided to do some microfictions on my Twitter yesterday, telling anyone who asked how they got their superpowers. I may do more of this in future, as it was very fun and people seemed to dig it. Here’s all of them, ’cause I wanted ’em all in one place:

They said it was a rock. A cold, dead rock from outer space.

But it couldn’t be. Not to you. Rocks don’t sing. And you had never heard a more inviting song in your entire life.

The sword had been your mother’s, your grandmother’s, all the way down the line to the one who stood by the lake & took it back after King Arthur showed how he was the one man in human history worthy enough to wield it, by returning it.

Now Excalibur is yours.

The aliens were sorry. They didn’t mean to hurt you, but human bodies are so fragile. They didn’t know.

They made it up to you, though. They remade you better. Though “better” to an alien doesn’t quite line up here on Earth…

The jacket was woven with silver thread, like strands of frost. It was cold to touch to everyone. Everyone but you. To you, it was warm as the breath of a old friend.

It was, naturally, a perfect fit.

A version of yourself from an alternate reality gave them to you, just as another had given them to him.

“It’s just the way it’s always done,” he said. “When you don’t need these anymore, you’ll pass them along to the next one.”

Everyone else said the experiment was disaster. A failure. Science ran amok.

But not you. Not when such an “accident” opened up such new and exciting possibilities.

It was shaped like a ring. It’s wasn’t–rings are jewelry, cold gems and gleaming metal. This was something else. Something that pulsed on your finger with an energy you couldn’t begin to comprehend.

It does so much. You can’t imagine taking it off.

A manifestation of the Infinite collapsed in your arms, dying. You held it close as it’s countless eyes darkened, one by one, singing it songs of endless love and boundless hope. It died reassured that some things still go on forever.

And now so do you.

Your long-forgotten imaginary friend returned, panicked and stricken, with key that unlocked the untold power in your heart.

They had hoped this day would never come.

It was, the scientists admitted later, a procedure they never expected you to survive. No one else had.

You were stronger than they gave you credit for. And now you’re stronger than they ever considered.

They said it was a lightning strike, but it couldn’t have been. After all, there was no storm. And it didn’t hurt when it hit you. Quite the opposite.

It was as if you finally felt alive for the first time.

The tattoo just appeared there one morning, after a night of drunken revelry. It was an odd, rune-esque design, but you always felt you could have ended up with worse…

…until the tattoo spoke.

A glowing ball of energy appeared one night when you were 5, hanging in the middle of your bedroom. It spoke to you in a voice full of static, something about how time travel was inexact…better to overshoot…too early…

Overwhelmed with curiosity, you reached out to touch it.

The gloves were metal, but moved like fabric when you put them on, their unyielding surface rippling like liquid over your fingers.

Sometimes you forget you have them on. Sometimes, when you don’t have them on, it feels like something is missing.

Technically, your dog has superpowers, but he lends them to you when danger arises, and you take him with you on adventures.

He’s a good dog.

Each universe chooses a particular place that suits its needs to be born. Some choose the churning, burning middle of a star, others, the freezing emptiness of a black hole.

This one found everything it needed in the middle of your heart.

Some discomfort is to be expected.

It was a book. Left on your doorstep, wrapped in paper that managed somehow be plain and brown while also being shiny and shimmery. Your name was written on the wrapper–misspelled, but definitely your name–and there was no return address.

Of course you read it. Of course.

Once, when you closed you eyes and focused, you could feel yourself reaching out, down, down, through the Earth, grabbing the molten center of the planet in a loving, powerful embrace.

You’ve not let go since.

The weapon was never supposed to be yours. A champion had been chosen, after all.

But when he cast it aside and ran in terror at the coming danger, well, it was just lying there.

SOMEONE had to pick it up and fight.

They say the dead tell no tales, but one did. When you leaned down to kiss your grandmother goodbye one last time in her coffin, she whispered to you secrets about the walls between this life and the next.

She told you how to bend those walls. And how to break them.

Demonic possession gone wrong. At least, that’s according to the cultists.

From your point of view, it turned out very right, indeed.

A lot of kids tied towels around their neck attempting to fly.

Yours just happened to work.

An older you appeared, having traveled back in time, and gave you the powers that they had received when they were your age.

When you ask them where the powers came from originally, they just smiled wryly and said “I didn’t get a satisfying answer to that, either.”

You’ve always had them. You just forgot.

Because sometimes forgetting is easier than remembering.

The strange woman who everyone said was your aunt gave you a wooden box carved to look like a sleeping bat when you were 6, as a thank you for drawing the whole family & making her the tallest.

You couldn’t get it open then. You just found it again yesterday & it opened right up

It was strange bug in the cornfield–something like a caterpillar but neon pink and yellow and covered in spines.

You didn’t want to touch it, but somehow, for some reason, you knew that IT wanted you to.

And when it crawled onto your hand, you understood.

It wasn’t really government property, no matter what your lousy supervisor said. You built it, it’s yours.

And damn if you aren’t going to be the first person to try it out.

It was always going to be you. There were countless prophecies, many foretoldings, and quite a few precognition. It was you. It was always going to be you.

Thing was, nobody bothered to tell you until the last minute.

They told you could do anything if you set your mind to it.

They just never realized how far a mind like yours could go.

Some of these are going have to be real stories at some point. But some of them I quite like just as they are.

Good luck with the dragon.