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The lesbian and bisexual characters I saw on TV kept dying, so I switched to comic books.

There is no shortage of ways to kill off a lesbian, bisexual, or queer woman on TV.

Gun violence. Cancer. Suicide. Car accidents. Poison. Crossbow. Sunken ship. Even murder by a murder of crows.

Merritt Wever as Dr. Denise Cloyd, "The Walking Dead." Photo by Gene Page/AMC. Samira Wiley as Poussey Washington, "Orange Is the New Black." Photo by  Eric Leibowitz/Netflix/Everett Collection. Naomi Campbell as Camillia Marks-Whiteman, "Empire." Photo by Chuck Hodes/FOX. Alycia Debnam-Carey as Lexa, "The 100." Photo by Cate Cameron/The CW.


Is it too much to ask to have perfectly imperfect complex characters with speaking parts and partners (or a rich dating life) who survive more than five episodes? Apparently the answer is yes.

It's not that characters don't get to die. For some genres, that just comes with the territory. But as Marie Lyn Bernard, aka Riese, said in her piece on the topic for Autostraddle, "We comprise such a teeny-tiny fraction of characters on television to begin with that killing us off so haphazardly feels especially cruel."

But there is a magical place where queer characters are leading stories, falling in love, being heroes, and (GASP!) not dying: comic books.

Finally, there's a place for LGBTQ women and femmes to kick ass, fall in and out of love, travel through time, grow old, work together as a team, and save the day.

From "Wonder Woman" to the hardcore campers of "Lumberjanes," queer heroines are staking their place in an industry long dominated by white, cis, straight men.

"Lumberjanes" cover via Noelle Stevenson/BOOM! Box, used with permission.

As an adult, it's refreshing. As someone with eyes on the next generation, particularly LGBTQ kids, it's inspiring. Kids — especially kids who aren't cisgender or straight — need to see themselves in the media they consume. What better place to stoke the imagination and power big dreams than the pages of comic books?

Author and cartoonist Sarah Graley writes queer characters to tell the stories she wishes she had.

Graley, 25 and from Birmingham in the United Kingdom, is the creative powerhouse behind "Our Super Adventure" and "Pizza Witch." Her latest comic book, "Kim Reaper," follows Becka, a college student with an unrequited crush on Kim, a goth girl with an untraditional side hustle — she's a part-time grim reaper.

"Kim Reaper #1" images via Oni Press, used with permission.

Including a queer couple was an obvious choice for Graley, a bisexual woman who never imagined a space for herself in the superhero comics she saw growing up.

"Growing up though, I don't remember any media that featured queer woman, let alone starred?" she writes in an e-mail interview. "I really wish I had that as a kid! Or as a teen! I just want that all the time to be honest, more media featuring rad queer women. So I make my own!"

"Kim Reaper #1" images via Oni Press, used with permission.

For many, including Graley, web comics and crowdfunding are helping underrepresented creators break into the industry and tell their own stories.

"I think webcomics being more of a thing and possible funding avenues like Patreon and Kickstarter have given people the platform to write/draw their own comics featuring underrepresented women, which is awesome!" she writes. "I think publishers have taken notice that these are stories that people want."

The renaissance of queer women doesn't leave behind women of color as characters or contributors.

The Marvel superheroine Miss America has been in print since 1943. But a brand new iteration, America Chavez, debuted in 2011 as part of the miniseries "Vengeance" and later appeared in "Young Avengers," "A-Force," and "The Ultimates." This year, America Chavez got her own story. And she's got a helluva story.

"America #1" variant cover by Jamie McKelvie, used with permission.

The daughter of two women, America is a queer, Latina college student with exceptional strength and the ability to kick down doors between dimensions. The book was written by Gabby Rivera, the gay, Latinx author of "Juliet Takes a Breath."

"I’m a queer brown weirdo, and I love every short inch of myself," Rivera said in an interview with Autostraddle. "I’m bringing all that round, brown, goodness to this story. All the things that make me laugh and make me feel strong, they’re going to be in America’s world."

America is joined by countless LGBTQ characters of color in comics and webcomics like "Witchy," "Agents of the Realm," and "Trans Girl Next Door."

No matter your genre of choice, there are queer women and femme characters ready to transport you to other worlds, new dimensions, or provide some insight into another person's lived experience.

There are spaces where TV writers aren't burying your gays and characters (and writers and artists) to fall in love with.

In addition to the books and sites I've mentioned already, check out "Bitch Planet," "Rat Queens," and Alison Bechdel's widely acclaimed strip "Dykes to Watch Out For."

Creator of "Fun Home" Alison Bechdel attends the re-opening of the Curran Theater in San Francisco, California. Photo by Steve Jennings/Getty Images for Curran.

There are new books, zines, anthologies, and webcomics coming out every month, so make friends with Tumblr, the amazing Autostraddle series "Drawn to Comics," or your local comic shop to keep up to date.

By supporting the creators who are making these stories happen, we can continue to see these queer characters grow, save the day, and — most importantly — live.

All illustrations are provided by Soosh and used with permission.

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This article originally appeared on 04.09.16


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