WonderCon 2024: Interview with Publisher Tara Madison Avery

An older woman with white hair and glasses, wearing an orange shirt, holds a copy of a graphic novel in a booth at WonderCon

One of the panels I attended while at WonderCon was about trans creators in comics. After, I managed to sit down with one of the panelists, Tara Madison Avery, publisher at Stacked Deck Press.

The full panel name was “Transcending Boundaries: A Celebration of Trans Creators in Comics and Pop Culture”, and Avery was one of the panelists. I talked to her while she was signing at the Prism Comics table.

I asked her why she focuses on the LGBT population. “Well, I’m trans and bi,” Avery said, “and I have spent a lot of time here working in the community. I’ve been with Prism Comics for 12 years, and I’ve sat on their board. I’m also a lifelong reader and creator of comics. So all this stuff seems to go together naturally for me because it is, as they say, the water in which I swim.”

At the panel, one of the topics was about trans creator influences. Avery expanded on that topic. “As I mentioned on panel, I’m a little bit older than some of the folks you’re liable to see here at the convention,” Avery said. “So a lot of the trans creators that that I might have known about were not out in the ’70s, or in the ’80s, such as Jeffrey Catherine Jones, who a lot of us know from their work in Heavy Metal. And then, of course, you know, there’s also the notion that there is representation from cisgender cartoonists that may not may or may not be 100% authentic, but it can also be interesting, especially to a young trans person who’s never seen any sort of representation of themselves at all before.”

We talked about some of the trans creators she currently works with. “We’re releasing an all-black all queer sci-fi fantasy comics anthology, which includes several trans and nonbinary creators, such as Amy Campbell,” Avery said. “But I also have worked on many trans projects. One of them is The Out Side, which is a book of all trans and nonbinary autobiographical stories that are edited to be appropriate for readers of all ages. I also published the first all-transgender comics anthology in 2018, We’re Still Here, and we won an Ignatz award for it, we’re pretty proud of it. It’s just part of what I do.

“And of course, I publish my own work my own set my own comics as well. And more projects in the queue, nothing I can make news about right now. But I can assure you that we will be looking out for for trans creators to participate in those as well.”

I asked her what her advice would be for trans creators wanting to break into the industry. Avery said, “First of all: go ahead and include aspects of your life, include trans experience in your work. Because there are people out there who want to read it. Don’t be afraid that if you include that you will be shunned. The beautiful thing about being out is that the people who know and want to support you and are on your side can’t back you unless they see you. And if you’re out, they can see you.”

On the panel, they talked about the importance of representation in media. Avery expanded on that concept. “It’s very hard for people who haven’t experienced something to get your get your experience right,” she said. “And so if if you’re out there and you’re talking about things true to your life, it’s much it’s much better that you do it. If you do that experience justice than to leave that in the hands of other people who aren’t in the know.”

Prism Comics is a nonprofit organization founded in 2003. Avery explained, “We are devoted to advancing the cause of queer comics creators and queer fandom throughout the country.” She brought up that they even have their own comic convention. “We have Q Con, which is free to the public once a year in West Hollywood. And this year, it will be June 15. We have cosplay, we have panel discussions: it’s a full service convention.”

I asked if she could tease anything coming up. “I would love to tell people about a book we’re crowdfunding before we go,” Avery said. “Right now Stacked Deck Press is crowdfunding on Zoop a graphic memoir called A Good Sport. And it is by a French cartoonist named Soizick Jaffre, and it is about her participation in the 2018 Gay Games. It is colorful, it is full of wit and wisdom, and it also details the history of the Gay Games themselves. It was a big hit at the Angoulême International Comics Festival earlier this year, and we need your support.”

For more information about Stacked Deck Press, you can visit their website. And if you want more information about Prism Comics, visit their website.

See all my WonderCon 2024 coverage here.

Author: Angie Fiedler Sutton

Angie Fiedler Sutton is a writer, podcaster, and all-round fangirl geek. She has been published in Den of Geek, Stage Directions, LA Weekly, The Mary Sue, and others.

She also produces her own podcast, Contents May Vary, where she interviews geeky people about geeky things. You can see all her work (and social media channels) at angiefsutton.com.

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