I read two lesbionic webcomics by Megan Rose Gedris (also known as Rosalarian): I Was Kidnapped By Lesbian Pirates From Outer Space! and YU + ME. They’re rather different comics, but I’d gladly recommend either of them.
Lesbian Pirates! is a much more consistent product– the skill behind the art improves a little with with each new installment, but only to the degree that’s to be expected of any webcomic– the style stays exactly the same throughout. The story is also much less complex, at least so far; it’s a ridiculous and enjoyable romp, but it stays firmly in the category of “casual fun reading” for me. However, I think Rosalarian never intended for it to be anything else, especially given the depth and complexity of YU + ME, which proves that she could do more if she wanted to; it reads to me like she just wants to have some fun with it, and she is certainly succeeding in that goal.
However, YU + ME remains more interesting as a topic of critique. It’s much older than Lesbian Pirates (it began in 2004), and there is a lot going on with it. If you’re going to read it, you should begin at the very beginning and read all the way through; that’s what I did. At first, it seemed very crude to me. The art is nowhere near as beautiful as the current comics she is producing, and the story looked stimple. However, it is a comic that will reward its readers, both with improved (and often truly stunning) art and with an increasingly complex and fascinating story. It’s long on purpose, and it wouldn’t be nearly as good if it didn’t spend the time on the minutiae in the beginning. The author clearly had A Plan from the very beginning, and it’s so well-executed that my second time through the archives was almost more fun than the first, since even though I knew what was next I was impressed by how obvious it was in retrospect, and how surprising it was at the time.
Plus, of course, lesbians! Both comics have cheerfully gay (well, at least cheerful-about-being-gay) characters, and several of them! I also really like the way they are drawn, with respect to body types. All the characters are or can be pretty, but in a way that I really enjoy, rather than in the stereotypical I’m-a-dyke-but-I-kind-of-look-like-a-straight-girl way which happens in, for example, the L Word. Instead, they all have distinct “looks” and (my favourite part!) completely realistic “chubby” bodies (which is to say, they look like my body, which is “chubby,” but are actually pretty normal.) As much as I love both Red String and Penny and Aggie, this is one way in which Rosalarian really takes the cake for me– she’s not at all afraid to have less-than-completely-gorgeous characters, and it’s refreshing in its own right.
As for the gals themselves, YU + ME is much more of the straight-up just-like-my-life lesbian love story, and it is handled beautifully, but it’s the lesbian characters in the not-at-all-like-my-life-unfortunately comic Lesbian Pirates! who really enchant me. They’re so delightfully campy that I always have a smile on my face, and while there are at least a few other serious relationship comics that center around lesbians, I don’t think I’ve seen any delightfully campy adventure stories with lesbian characters, let alone so many of them! (If there are others, you totally have to tell me.)
These are also the first comics I’ve reviewed in which the lesbian storylines are the main storylines. In some ways, it might be better for “the cause” (or whatever) for the lesbian characters to be included in stories with more “broad” appeal, because it normalizes that kind of story as being a part of life, rather than a “special case” kind of story that needs to be told elsewhere. But at the same time, it’s really nice as a reader to know going in that I’ll see characters who reflect my own life (as opposed to being pleasantly surprised when they show up later, as in both Red String and Penny and Aggie), and it’s extra-nice to be sure of seeing those characters every time I visit the site. No more super-frustrated waits between glorious moments of lesbian inclusion! It’s gay time all the time!
It’s odd, actually, that as much as I think YU + ME is the better comic, and the one that better shows off Rosalarian’s amazing talents, it’s Lesbian Pirates! that I find myself wanting to rhapsodize about here. Part of this is almost certainly that there’s a lot going on in YU + ME that I can’t talk about without spoiling it, whereas the name “I Was Kidnapped By Lesbian Pirates From Outer Space!” tells you pretty much all you need to know about the plot… but I think there’s also something else going on. It’s like the way that I love Les Miserables and I love Ella Enchanted– I believe Les Miserables to be wholly superior, but I just can’t gush about it, because it’s Literature, and there’s too much going on to reduce it to a couple sentences.
So, I’ll have to admit defeat here as well– YU + ME, like Literature, can’t be described succinctly, so you’re going to have to read it yourself. And if your brain is feeling awfully full afterwards, check out those Lesbian Pirates for some lighthearted fun.
(Check out my other “lesbian love in webcomics” posts here!)