Archive for May 2021

Sirens Mission: Transgression

Sirens Conference Mission Transgression

Not being able to gather in person with the Sirens community in 2020 was heartrending. But it also gave us the gift of time: a chance, after more than a decade of work, to take a breath and consider what Sirens is today—and what we want it to be tomorrow.

Sirens is a conference that actively seeks to amplify voices that are pushing boundaries in speculative spaces—and specifically, are pushing those boundaries in the direction of a more inclusive, more empathetic, more just world. Since we featured works on this year’s villainous theme last year, this year’s Sirens Reading Challenge instead showcases 50 works by female, nonbinary, and trans authors that envision that better world—and we’re exploring what that means to us in a series of six posts, using those works as reference points.

Our first post discussed reclamation, finding and sharing those stories that reclaim what it means for us to be from somewhere. Those stories that speak to where we are from, and in doing so, offer a wholly new path for our future. Today, we discuss transgression, in our stories and ourselves.


We are who we are.

Some days, we’re indomitable: blazingly brilliant and incandescently angry and relentlessly defiant. Other days, we are quieter, shyer, more introverted, in need of a cozy chair, a cup of tea, and a cuddle. Yet other days, we are impossibly busy, challenging the world, perhaps, or so often just getting through the endless list of things to do so we can go to bed and try it all again the next day.

We are built of hopes and dreams and ambitions. But some days, we are uncertain. Some days, unforgiving. Some days, grumpy. Some days, we need a moment, just one moment, when people don’t demand something, anything of us. Some days, maybe most days, we are exhausted.

We identify as a marginalized gender—trans people, nonbinary people, cisgendered women—and often we are also Black, brown, queer, immigrant, disabled, neurodivergent, fat, with all of the struggles born of those intersections. We are marginalized, often across multiple axes, so we have to work harder and work faster and work smarter, even when it feels like we’re running in place. We are marginalized, often across multiple axes, so every day we decide how much—when, how, with whom—to challenge the system.

But through it all, no matter who we are on any given day, we refuse to be less: less opinionated, less brilliant, less bold, less independent, less ambitious. We refuse to dream less or want less or hope less. We steadfastly remain a library of cleverness, a fistful of fury, and a whole universe worth of hope.

We are who we are. And who we are is glorious.

But to be who we are, we must transgress.

We must cast aside, if only for a moment, what the world demands we be. Cast aside our silence, our passivity, and our politeness. Cast aside our white heteropatriarchy-approved careers and aspirations. Cast aside the expectations of unpaid, unthanked cooking, cleaning, stitching, childrearing. Cast aside closing our eyes or looking the other way or pretending we haven’t seen. Cast aside, if only for a moment, the fear, the violence, and the millennia of history that have kept us bound.

We must, often forcefully and relentlessly, reject the roles prescribed for us, the careers allotted us, the aspirations given us. We must reject the impossible beauty standards, the bias and bigotry, the tokenism, all tools of the white heteropatriarchy, all designed to undermine our transgression. We must claim our looks and our bodies and our pleasure. We must identify as we choose and love as we choose. We must be the full breadth of who we might be, or could be, or should be: big, bold, bright, brilliant. Radically kind. Full of hope. Always dreaming.

And we must do it each day. And the next. And the next. Each of those days a persistent transgression, an insistent march toward honesty and justice and humanity.

And so, in the speculative space that is Sirens, our second mission statement is transgression: to find and share those stories, our stories, that transgress boundaries, expectations, and limitations for all people of marginalized genders. That tell stories of kind witches and ambitious princesses and adventurous shepherds, because those are our stories, stories of our kindnesses and our ambitions and our adventures. Those stories that reveal the full humanity of people of marginalized genders—our messy, fragile, relentless, transgressive humanity, full of love and rage and grief and hope. Those stories that show us the world as it could be—and should be—free of the white heteropatriarchal societal demands that expect so much and offer so little. Stories that are, themselves, transgressions and, in turn, inspire or validate or reward ours.

At this time, in this place, it is, for all people of marginalized genders, a radical act to be who we are. But nevertheless, no matter who society thinks we are supposed to be, we are—persistently, insistently, defiantly—who we are.

Transgression Works

In Dia Reeves’ Slice of Cherry, Kit and Fancy Cordelle, daughters of the infamous Bonesaw Killer, are broken: by their father’s crimes, their mother’s absence, their town’s ostracization, and seemingly everyone’s assumptions—but they boldly transgress, not by becoming good girls, but by becoming increasingly violent vigilantes. The beauty of Reeves’ spectacular work, however, is that the girls’ brokenness and vigilantism create neither victims, nor, despite the carnage, villains. Kit and Fancy take their power, claim their power, every time they cut an attempted rapist, every time they stab an intruder, every time they war against what people assume they must be.

In Mexican Gothic, Silvia Moreno-Garcia crafts the precise, beating heart of modern women’s horror. Socialite Noemí plays at transgression, pleading with her father for permission to continue her education between rounds of parties and cocktails and boys—until she travels to remote High Point on a family errand. There she unearths a house of horrors: a relentless, increasingly flagrant march of sexual assault, eugenics, and presumed ownership, muddied by an eddying fog of not-quite-realness that causes Noemí to doubt her perceptions—and in order to save herself and others, she must learn to forcefully transgress. Moreno-Garcia’s masterwork lays terrifyingly bare the quotidian horrors of women of color, forced to endure a lifetime of male intrusions, violence, and colonization.

Maggie Hoskie, the Dinétah monster-hunting protagonist of Rebecca Roanhorse’s post-apocalyptic Trail of Lightning, is certain that she is, herself, a monster. After witnessing her grandmother’s brutal murder, Maggie’s clan powers awaken, and she’s mentored by divine monster-slayer Naayéé’ Neizghání—at least until she becomes too violent. Then she’s on her own, living bounty-to-bounty, until the world needs saving. Maggie’s transgression, ultimately and gloriously, is her heroism: She gazed long into the abyss and learned that, because of her monstrousness, she could save the world.

Maria Dahvana Headley deconstructs monstrousness as well, in The Mere Wife, her transformation of Beowulf. At Herot Hall, everything is a Stepford-pretty utopia, and Willa, married to Herot heir Roger, is no different—until her son, Dylan, meets Gren, who belongs to Dana, a soldier of war living in a cave outside the suburban perimeter. In this contemporary exploration of monstrousness and society, Dylan and Gren are the catalysts, but not the monsters. As Willa’s and Dana’s equally carefully constructed worlds collapse, their fears lead them to make sometimes desperate, sometimes illogical, always transgressive decisions—leading us in turn to ask what it means to be monstrous in the first place.

Rage Becomes Her, Soraya Chemaly’s explosively smart work of nonfiction, delves deep on anger, perhaps the most transgressive of women’s emotions, the one that is impossible to reconcile with white heteropatriarchal demands for silence, politeness, and passivity. Through science and anecdotes, Chemaly paints our unexpressed, unvalidated rage as self-destructive, both mentally and physically. But she also finds that women’s rage is a necessary and significant source of power, one that acts as a critical catalyst for women seeking personal, professional, and societal changes.

In The Beast Player by Nahoko Uehashi (translated by Cathy Hirano), a fantastic world of mythical beasts teeters on the brink of war—and whoever can harness those beasts into weapons of destruction will surely prevail. Elin, a caretaker of water serpents, is caught in the middle, pressed to stand aside as her serpents are taken for battle, while knowing that there must be a way to both avert a war and save the extraordinary beasts in her care. Themes of duty, honor, kindness, and grace thread through Uehashi’s foundationally transgressive work that firmly rejects war and destruction as inexorable.

Gideon the Ninth, Tamsyn Muir’s gothic puzzle-box of a book, is transgression incarnate. In some future year, somewhere in space, the First House, with opaque promises of power, invites the eight other beholden houses to each send a necromancer and a cavalier primary to an abandoned building full of deadly riddles. But Gideon, tricked into serving as the cavalier primary for Harrowhark, the Ninth House’s necromancer, would rather stab Harrow with her teensy-weensy cavalier sword than solve mysteries. While Shades of The Hunger Games abound, Gideon is a book born not of almost-accidental revolution, but of Muir’s utter determination to put rude, defiant, ambitious, queer women on a page—and her unrelenting authorial transgression is magnificent.

While calling Angela Slatter the heir apparent to Angela Carter and Emma Donoghue may seem a bold assertion, it’s appropriately so—but Slatter takes Carter’s and Donoghue’s reclamation of fairy tales even further by entirely eschewing any conversation with the heteropatriarchal foundations of fairy tales. She—like her heroines—is too busy to discuss, criticize, or even chastise those who would impose conformance. Too busy being, if you will: being frightened and fearless, being brave and bold, being frail and fantastical. And A Feast of Sorrows, one of her collections of short fiction, features twelve of her finest, darkest, most transgressive fairy tales.

This post is the second of a six-part series on Sirens’s mission. You can find the first post, on reclamation, here. We will update this post with links when all posts are published.

Book Friends: Joamette Gil

As part of our 2021 Guest of Honor weeks, the Sirens team recommends books that would be friends with a guest of honor's books. Below is a curated list of titles that we feel complement the works of Joamette Gil, the head witch at P&M Press and the editor of the anthologies Power & Magic: The Queer Witch Comics Anthology, Heartwood: Non-binary Tales of Sylvan Fantasy and Power & Magic: Immortal Souls. If you enjoyed her work, we hope you check out these other comics and graphic novels centering BIPOC and queer voices; sylvan fantasies of getting lost in the woods; works upending tropes you thought you knew, broad definitions of heroism; spectacular artwork and amazing lettering; plenty of witchery; and settings of transformations and finding yourself.

New Fantasy Books: May 2021

We’re excited to bring you a roundup of May 2021 fantasy book releases by and about women and nonbinary folk. Let us know what you’re looking forward to, or any titles that we’ve missed, in the comments!

Joamette’s Recommended Readings

Sirens Studio Guest of Honor Joamette Gil shares a list of fantasy and other works that she loves. If you enjoy her work, we encourage you to check out these other reads, spanning graphic, short fiction, and novels. Take it away, Joamette!


Octavia's Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements Adrienne Maree Brown and Walidah Imarisha
Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements
edited by Adrienne Maree Brown and Walidah Imarisha
Knights-Errant Jennifer Doyle
by Jennifer Doyle
Spiritwalker Trilogy Kate Elliott
Spiritwalker Triology (Cold Magic, Cold Fire, and Cold Steel) by Kate Elliott
Mooncakes Suzanne Walker and Wendy Xu
by Suzanne Walker and Wendy Xu
Brown Girl in the Ring Nalo Hopkinson
Brown Girl in the Ring
by Nalo Hopkinson
Through the Woods Emily Carroll
Through the Woods
by Emily Carroll
The Haunting of Hill House Shirley Jackson
The Haunting of Hill House
by Shirley Jackson
On a Sunbeam Tillie Walden
On a Sunbeam
by Tillie Walden
The Temple of My Familiar Alice Walker
The Temple of My Familiar
by Alice Walker
This One Summer Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki
This One Summer
by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki
Verse Sam Beck
by Sam Beck


Joamette Gil is the head witch at P&M Press, an independent comics micro-press specializing in speculative fiction by creators of color, LGBTQIA creators, and creators at the intersections. Best known for her Prism Award-winning publication Power & Magic: The Queer Witch Comics Anthology, she also made the James Tiptree, Jr. Literary Award’s 2018 Honor List and received nods from the Ignatz Awards and Lambda Literary Awards over the course of P&M Press’s three-year existence. Her newest titles are Heartwood: Non-binary Tales of Sylvan Fantasy and Power & Magic: Immortal Souls. Another new title, Mañana: Latinx Comics from the 25th Century, is forthcoming in 2020. Joamette’s own comics work has been featured by IDW, Margins Publishing,,, Oni Press, Lion Forge, and Abrams ComicArts. She also contributed to the Eisner Award-winning Puerto Rico Strong anthology benefitting hurricane disaster relief on the island. When she’s not inhaling graphic novels, she’s off plotting silly play-by-post scenarios or watching horror movies with her friends and familiars in Portland, Oregon.

For more information about Joamette, please visit her website or her Twitter.


Heartwood: Non-Binary Tales of Sylvan Fantasy edited by Joamette Gil

Heartwood: Non-Binary Tales of Sylvan Fantasy

Into the woods
Without regret,
The choice is made,
The task is set.
Into the woods,
But not forget-
Ting why I’m on the journey.
Into the woods
to get my wish,
I don’t care how,
The time is now.

“Into the Woods,” lyrics by Stephen Sondheim

Not being a noted fan of fairy tales, and not having participated in the Kickstarter for Heartwood: Non-binary Tales of Sylvan Fantasy, edited by Joamette Gil, it took me a rather embarrassingly long time to work out why the comics in this anthology by non-binary creators all centered on the woods. The woods have been a space of transformation and potential in stories for centuries, as the Sondheim lyrics that I couldn’t stop thinking of while reading this book indicate. This collection, which is delightful overall, extends that potential to the creators it includes and to the characters in its stories, many of whom are non-binary themselves.

“Sylvan fantasy” is a broad category, and the stories in Heartwood vary from contemporary settings, like the opening “The Biggest Dog You’ve Ever Seen” by Z. Akhmetova, to fully secondary world settings, like “New Leaves” by Emily Madly and Maria Li. Most treat the idea of the forest as literal, but in at least one comic, Rhiannon Rasmussen and Chan Chau’s “Dive,” the forest is either metaphorical or a forest of seaweed. (Partly because it played with the concept, that one was one of my favorites.) “Finding Alex,” by editor Joamette Gil and Corey Ranson, takes the brief for the collection very literally indeed—and the story, in which the main character asserts their non-binary identity through a strange encounter in the woods, works beautifully.

One of the standout entries in the collection, “Shuvah (Return)” by Ezra Rose and Jey Barnes, gives that same plot a very specifically Jewish twist, as the protagonist returns to the woods to find the same forest beings with whom they celebrated Sukkot as a young Orthodox child, and celebrates Tu B’Shevat with them as a non-binary adult.

Indeed, one of the strengths of this collection is its showcasing non-binary protagonists in a variety of ways—whether in stories revolving around their being non-binary, or stories in which they have adventures like any other fantasy protagonist.

Having both together elevates Heartwood out of the potential danger zone of being a gimmick to being a fun, relevant comics anthology with a lot of heart.

Heartwood is a beautiful book, particularly its gilt-edge pages and foil lettering on its gorgeous cover, but the black and white printing unfortunately does render some of the comics hard to distinguish at times—I suspect some if not most of the submissions were originally full color. Those comics like “Dive” which were clearly conceptualized for monochrome printing stand out for their crisp lines and clearly differentiated tones. In terms of art style, most of the comics in the collection are on the more conventional end of the gamut of comics art; the more schematic, “Hyperbole and a Half”-esque art of Polly Guo’s “Paloma” is probably the most different from the rest. But even though the anthology includes twenty-two stories, none of them feel rushed, and none of them are obviously less technically accomplished than any of the others. These creators know their stuff, and it shows.

All in all, Heartwood is a strong entry from Power & Magic Press, living up to its stated mission of showcasing the talents of non-binary comics creators and the press’s mission of providing a home for thoughtful genre content by queer creators and creators of color. If you haven’t had much experience with the current flowering of indie comics, Heartwood is a great place to start. I’ll definitely be looking forward to future anthologies from Gil and P&M Press.

Dr. Andrea Horbinski holds a PhD in modern Japanese history with a designated emphasis in new media from the University of California, Berkeley. Her book manuscript, “Manga’s Global Century,” is a history of Japanese comics from 1905–1989. She has discussed anime, manga, fandom, and Japanese history at conventions and conferences on five continents, and her articles have appeared in Transformative Works and Cultures, Internet Histories, Convergence, and Mechademia.

Further Reading: Joamette Gil

Have you already loved publisher and comics-creator Joamette Gil’s work with Power & Magic Press? The 2017 Prism-award winning, Ignatz-nominated Queer Witches Comics Anthology? Heartwood: Non-binary Tales of Sylvan Fantasy? Haven’t read those yet but interested in finding out more about Joamette and her work? As part of Joamette’s Guest of Honor week, we’re pleased to compile some of her interviews and comics from around the web.

Joamette’s interviews:

  • Vision 2020: Joamette Gil (2020): “As an introverted, low-income immigrant kid, escapism was my thing, and my favorite way to escape was watching Sailor Moon. The way she made me feel convinced me that, when I grew up, I wanted to make others feel the same way using characters of my own.”

  • Indie Comics Spotlight: Joamette Gil Channels Power & Magic in Her Comics (2019): “So often, a “witch” was any woman embracing her authentic self, rejecting social obligations. I relate to that as a queer woman of color who always had to hear that there was “something wrong” with me, for no other reason than that I didn’t fit a certain “womanly” ideal.”

  • Smash Pages Q&A: Joamette Gil on ‘Heartwood’ and More (2018): “In a lot of ways, Heartwood was also about pushing P&M Press’ boundaries: how many people can we hire, how much can we pay them, how many invites vs open submissions, how many people can I edit at a time, how well will this fund? The hypotheses across the board were ‘more, bigger,’ and I was mercifully right, hah. I eventually want to publish books by individual creators, so in addition to shining more light on less represented voices, every anthology is a chance to grow into a publisher that can do a solo creator justice.”

  • Joamette Gil Summons ‘Power & Magic’ for Queer Witches Everywhere (2016): “My ‘thing’ has always been telling stories that resonate with people from marginalized communities, especially queer people of color who grew up (or currently live) in poverty, which is my own experience. Power & Magic exists because I don’t just want to resonate; I want to be materially supportive to others like me.”

Joamette’s comics:

Power & Magic is a queer witch comics anthology full of variety and heart

Power & Magic: The Queer Witch Comics Anthology review

Power & Magic: The Queer Witch Comics Anthology is edited by Joamette Gil, and showcases seventeen creators of color in fifteen unique stories. Each one interprets “witch” differently, but all feature people of color and queerness in a beautiful way. As with any collection of works, there is a wide range of styles and tones; while I felt some stories were stronger than others, overall it is a lovely book. On a side note, I appreciate that the table of contents includes content warnings for particular stories. It’s a thoughtful detail that I wish more publishers would use.

The anthology opens with Jemma Salume’s elegant four-pager which, despite its brevity, is a gorgeous and intriguing gem that brilliantly sets the stage for the rest of the stories. For me, standouts include Nivedita Sekar’s modern take on fairy tales; drawn in delicate pencil, it is a quiet meditation on heartbreak, dating, and growth. Another highlight is Ann Xu’s exploration of generational magic, where the loss of one’s own language will be familiar to many children of diaspora. Her expressive brushstrokes flow through the pages, leading to a poignant triumph. I also loved Aatmaja Pandya’s piece; her deceptively simple art carries her mostly wordless story, a tender look at old age and death. Finally, the last story, by Naomi Franquiz, starts from a painful place, but the evocative art and lyrical writing come together for a hopeful journey of healing through community.

Gil’s own story is a short but compelling examination of tradition. She subverts the usual dichotomy of light equals good and dark equals bad, an especially effective choice given the Black characters in her piece. Gil’s dreamy art compliments her tale of self-discovery and love, and while it might not be the flashiest story in the book, it feels like the core of what Power & Magic is all about.

On a technical note, the book is in grayscale, and a couple of the comics don’t have quite enough visual contrast, making them somewhat hard to read. (Possibly the digital version of the book might have fared better than the print edition in this regard.) The text also varies from fonts to hand lettering, and some readers might struggle when the text is smaller or less clear.

Gil has put together a solid collection with lots of variety and plenty of heart. If you enjoy other queer and/or POC focused anthologies of fantastical comics, like the Beyond or Elements series, Power & Magic casts a similar spell.

Lani Goto grew up on a steady diet of fantasy books, but now it’s more like a mix of some fantasy, lots of sci-fi, and a bit of horror. In addition to reading, they enjoy cooking, hanging out with animals, and yelling at movies. They have a degree in art, and another in comics, though they currently work with engineering teams at the Wikimedia Foundation.

Joamette Gil: Exclusive Interview

We’re pleased to bring you the first in our 2021 series of candid, in-depth interviews with this year’s Sirens Guests of Honor, covering everything from inspirations, influences, and research, to the role of women in fantasy literature, and discussing our 2021 theme of villains! We hope these conversations will be a prelude to the ones our attendees will be having in Denver this October. Today, Sirens Communication team member Faye Bi speaks with publisher and comics creator Joamette Gil, this year’s Sirens Studio Guest of Honor


FAYE BI: You introduce yourself on your website as a “queer Afro-Cuban cartoonist and publisher from the Miami diaspora.” To me, each descriptor feels intentional and integral to your identity as creator and business professional. Can you tell us a little bit about your background and what inspired you to start making—and publishing—comics? In what ways do these descriptors affect, or not affect, your work?

Joamette Gil Interview

JOAMETTE GIL: As a creator, I’m primarily socially motivated: I want to be seen, I want others to see themselves, and I want my work to benefit the world. I publicly list my politicized and cultural identities because I want to be found by anyone who might be looking for me (or looking for themselves in me).

These descriptors affect every part of my life from top to bottom, my work especially, in that they inform my experiences and values. Everything I write or publish must fulfill a desire born when I was twelve years old, watching Sailor Moon on stolen cable: “I want to spend my life making people feel the way this makes me feel.” What I felt then was wonder, passion, and catharsis.

I grew up in poverty in Miami, Florida, where being a member of the politically dominant Cuban majority there offers about as little benefit to Afro-Cubans (like my mother) as being American offers African-Americans. Social programs and ingenuity-born-of-necessity kept us as housed, clothed, fed, and healthy as they could. I excelled at school, taking on more and more advanced programs through adolescence, while playing surrogate mother to my siblings when caregiving with untreated mental illnesses became too much for my mother and stepfather. Anxiety, isolation, scarcity, constant problem-solving, avoidance of my own emotions: these are why I ultimately left for the opposite coast as soon as I was eighteen.

Through it all, to this day, cartoons were there to soothe me and help me dream. I love comics, in particular, as the most universal of the storytelling forms. It can be created, read, and shared across language barriers, even sans the ability to read or write words. I use the medium to express everything I did not formerly have the luxury nor space to express, and to empower others to have their own voices heard in an industry that struggles to compensate anyone well, let alone marginalized creators breaking barriers with their stories.


FAYE: You are a one-human operation at P&M Press, the publisher of Power & Magic: The Queer Witch Comics Anthology and Heartwood: Non-binary Tales of Sylvan Fantasy. You recently finished funding the Power & Magic: Immortal Souls (volume two) on Kickstarter. Was your plan always to start your publishing journey on their platform as opposed to traditional publishing, and what is it like working with their publishing team? What has been surprising about the process when it comes to the curation, production, and fulfillment? And can I please geek out about the beautiful foil and gilded edges on Heartwood?

JOAMETTE: Yes, Kickstarter was always the idea. (And please do—I’m still geeking out about Heartwood’s production values myself!) Even prior to 2016 (when P&M Press was born), comics were very much a DIY space in my mind. Some of my first interactions with comics were online, during the 2000s era of webcomics, when people were figuring out monetization of works without publishing deals. I was probably part of the first generation of creators who would see self-publishing as the dream, not an alternative or a consolation route or a daring experiment. By the time I was in college, C. Spike Trotman was planting the seeds for Iron Circus Comics, the first (and to my knowledge, still only) comics publisher with mainstream, international distribution that started on Kickstarter. By the time I found my way to publishing others, revolutions in what was possible in comics had been fought and won ahead of me, creating a clear, new path.

As far as surprises, every campaign presents a new one! These are the sorts of things you don’t read about if you Google “how to run a Kickstarter campaign,” such as how Kickstarter earnings impact your eligibility for social programs, the various life scenarios that could lead to a fluctuating creator line-up throughout production, and just how many packages are “too many” to take to a post office on a single day.


FAYE: In both “As the Roots Undo” (your story in Power & Magic) and “Finding Alex” (your story in Heartwood), the forest is a place of growth, self-discovery and transformation. What draws you to these fairytale motifs and inspires you to keep returning? I noticed you are based in Portland, Oregon, home of many beautiful forests—do you have any favorite sylvan spots?

JOAMETTE: I’m drawn to the forest as a setting for its intercultural significance as a liminal space. While a false dichotomy, we do tend to draw a line between the places where people live and conduct their business and the places that are meant to be visited, then swiftly exited, for fear of what we could lose if we stay there too long. Forests, the sea, outer space, the bush—these places force us out of our comfort zones. Whenever I’m in the woods, I feel that discomfort, that loss of footing, and it makes me starkly aware of my own body. My thoughts become sharper, my breath calmer. My early life was the opposite of rosy, so the prospect of a place between here and there, where anything is possible, where nothing is written, where “becoming” awaits, is my favorite idea to consider!

For sylvan spots, the witch’s burned-out castle in Forest Park is one of my favorites. It’s exactly what it sounds like.


FAYE: In your portfolio’s Lettering section, you share that lettering is only second to your love of storytelling: “The marriage between text, balloons, and illustrations can make, break, or even elevate a comics work.” I often feel that when lettering is good, it’s viewed as almost invisible and so obvious, like the reader can’t imagine this layout or placement any other way, allowing the work to shine for itself—though of course, it’s only because it’s good that it’s unnoticeable. Can you tell us more about your lettering and share some instances (of your own work or work you admire) where the lettering matches the art and text perfectly?

JOAMETTE: I would say good lettering is either seamless and invisible, or seamless and load-bearing. “Seamless” is the common quality, like you said about not being able to imagine the letters any other way. I would describe my lettering for Jamila Rowser and Sabii Borno’s Wobbledy 3000 as “invisible”: the balloons are colored in the same distinctive pastels as the artwork, and the typeface balances legibility with a swirly quality that echoes Borno’s line work. Meanwhile, I would describe the lettering in something like Emily Carroll’s Through the Woods collection as “load-bearing” because the letters fundamentally inform the story being told. It can’t stand without them, and it isn’t meant to. Her particular horror tone would shift dramatically if she’d chosen to render the text on the page in any other manner than the one she chose: handwriting that is subtly stilted and scratchy, like a journal scrawling, placed directly onto the artwork without caption boxes. The text size fluctuates based on the height of emotion called for in each moment, and the odd white dialog balloon is lopsided, frayed, or even melting.


FAYE: In a previous interview, you’ve discussed sourcing creators for both of your anthologies and building a network through social media, acquaintances, and databases like the Queer Cartoonists Database. Both collections have such a rich range of art styles and stories, ranging from heartwarming to devastating, philosophical to visceral, and beyond. Since many of these artists are underrepresented in mainstream comics in various ways, how has it been to work directly with so many of them? What is the next step for you in expanding this amazing community you’ve built?

JOAMETTE: In short, a dream! I want nothing more than to connect with people, and creativity is the way I do that best. It’s been my privilege to work with over 100 creators from all over the world, of every race and countless ethnicities, most of them queer women and non-binary people, since 2016. Their talents, skills, and passions continually humble me, and there’s a bittersweetness in witnessing firsthand just how much our marginalized communities have to offer (because so little of it is ever validated by mainstream access). To date, we’ve centered our books around queer women of color and non-binary people overall, and our forthcoming book centers Latinx creators of all genders and backgrounds. My hope is to continue expanding P&M Press until we can properly compensate solo creators for original graphic novels, creating space for more in-depth expressions by the people we publish.


FAYE: Sirens is about discussing and deconstructing both gender and fantasy literature. Would you please tell us about a woman or nonbinary person—a family member, a friend, a reader, an author, an editor, a character, anyone—who has changed your life?

JOAMETTE: That would have to be my best friend, who shall remain nameless for their own privacy, haha! My best friend is an AMAB non-binary trans fem who’s been in my life for over a decade. She was my primary support during my own coming out at as queer and as a non-binary woman. She’s someone who I’ve known long enough to see struggle, fail, grow, succeed, and come into her own—and vice versa. Our twenties would have been much harder without one another to call queer family.


Joamette Gil is the head witch at P&M Press, an independent comics micro-press specializing in speculative fiction by creators of color, LGBTQIA creators, and creators at the intersections. Best known for her Prism Award-winning publication Power & Magic: The Queer Witch Comics Anthology, she also made the James Tiptree, Jr. Literary Award’s 2018 Honor List and received nods from the Ignatz Awards and Lambda Literary Awards over the course of P&M Press’s three-year existence. Her newest titles are Heartwood: Non-binary Tales of Sylvan Fantasy and Power & Magic: Immortal Souls. Another new title, Mañana: Latinx Comics from the 25th Century, is forthcoming in 2020. Joamette’s own comics work has been featured by IDW, Margins Publishing,,, Oni Press, Lion Forge, and Abrams ComicArts. She also contributed to the Eisner Award-winning Puerto Rico Strong anthology benefitting hurricane disaster relief on the island. When she’s not inhaling graphic novels, she’s off plotting silly play-by-post scenarios or watching horror movies with her friends and familiars in Portland, Oregon.

For more information about Joamette, please visit her website or her Twitter.

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