SuperButch recounts the story of Lillian “Sticks” Lewis, a Turtle City reporter seeking information on the whereabouts of the legendary SuperButch, a superhero who takes down the cops that raid Gay Bars at the time.
Sticks narrates her story to Professor Alicia Torres and Assistant Tammy Barr in 1988. Back in the 1940s, most Queer adults flock to the bar scene to be themselves and even find love. And, of course, the cops often find and raid these bars. Reporter Sticks deals with sexism and racism in the newsroom. Because of her very light skin, she intentionally passes as white during her job and attends the Bar scene at night as herself. The intolerant public calls Queer people perverts, but the Queer characters Sticks interacts with, including her girlfriend Kansas (Japanese-American), are human beings with desires and nowhere else to go to express their true selves. The webcomic does an excellent job of showing the complexities and intersectional approaches to the 1940s Bar scene.
SuperButch, an ongoing webcomic, dusts off American Queer history that’s been censored or obscured. Even Alicia and Tammy are surprised when Sticks mentions that Queer people got married secretly back then regardless of it being prohibited. Queer people in the bar scene claim separate names to protect their identity (like “Sticks” for Lillian). Some of these people unfortunately get arrested or worse during police raids. But then comes SuperButch, a superhero who stops the cops from harming the bar patrons. A hero whose super strength seems more real than myth. It appears that nobody knows SuperButch’s true identity, but Sticks, eager for a big story to report, is determined to find her.
An inclusive and much needed look at a nearly forgotten part of America’s Queer history.
Author: Brahidaliz Martinez
Brahidaliz (pronounced Bra-da-leez) is a 2019 graduate of American University’s MFA in creative writing program. Their cross-genre chapbook, Coquí’s Song, is forthcoming (2023) from Mason Jar Press.
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