Quick Questions With A Quick & Easy Guide to Queer & Trans Identities Creators Mady G. & J.R. Zuckerberg

Comics Features Oni Press
Quick Questions With A Quick & Easy Guide to Queer & Trans Identities Creators Mady G. & J.R. Zuckerberg

Oni Press continues its Quick and Easy Guide series with A Quick & Easy Guide to Queer & Trans Identities, out this week through Oni’s erotica and sex education imprint Limerence Press. Together Mady G. and J.R. Zuckerberg offer an introductory exploration of gender identities and sexual orientation through the eyes of Iggy, a very cool snail, and the lovely floral Sproutlings.

The guide, a thorough and well-organized exploration of the full spectrum of the LGBTQIA+ community, is clearly a labor of love for Mady and J.R., and serves as a welcoming introduction to the LGBTQIA+ community for allies looking to expand their knowledge or folks who may just be beginning to question themselves. Mady G. and J.R. were able to answer a few questions via email for Paste Magazine about the Quick & Easy Guide to Queer & Trans Identities, out today from Limerence Press.


A Quick & Easy Guide to Queer & Trans Identities Cover Art by Mady G. & J.R. Zuckerberg

Paste Magazine: Mady and J.R., how did y’all team up with Limerence Press for A Quick & Easy Guide to Queer & Trans Identities?

Mady G.: I was already working with Ari [Yarwood] as my editor on the Rick and Morty comics and she asked me if I wanted to pitch a book for Limerence. Of course I did, so I pitched this book! J.R. and I met at Pratt Institute and have been buds ever since. We’re both natural collaborators.

J.R. Zuckerberg: I was in my final week or so of Pratt and graduation was around the corner. I hadn’t lined up a job or any large post-college projects and wasn’t quite sure what was going to happen next, and then Mady reached out to me to work on the book with them! The timing couldn’t have been more exciting.

Paste: The art here is so friendly and inviting—can you talk a little about your process of coming up with Iggy and the Sproutlings as our guides?

Mady G.: Iggy is my child and the Sproutlings are J.R.’s. I chose a snail because they are inherently genderless and sexless animals. No preconceived associations, just little creatures. Iggy serves as a groovy little ambassador for the queer human community, and is named somewhat after Iggy Pop, a genderfluid punk icon.

Zuckerberg: The Sproutlings synthesize so much of what has inspired me starting from a very young age—primarily the natural world—with some Pokémon notes and some other flavors in the mix. I’ve always been drawn to making “creature” characters, and I wanted to build a tiny community that readers could feel like they’ve stumbled upon while wandering about in the woods.

Paste: The LGBTQIA+ community is so complex and diverse! How did you work through finagling such an abundance of info into something very digestible for readers who may be picking this up as their first in-depth introduction to our identities?

Mady G.: The easy answer is I’m friends with many different kinds of queer people. Because it’s something that’s affected my life so strongly, LGBTQ+ culture and identity is something that has swept me away. I’m fascinated by the nuances and sub-groups of it, so the research came very naturally. I was inspired by educating my father when I came out, and I figured that if I could use that approach to teach other parents, then it could potentially make a real impact. Honey instead of vinegar, and all that.

Zuckerberg: This was a lot to navigate, and I am so fortunate to have a co-author with a knack for organizing information in an extremely readable, communicative and compelling manner. They took the helm of the majority of the research for the nonfiction components of the book, and I offered my thoughts and further exploration of topics here and there, as well as some of the interview outreach. Taking on a supporting role in this part of the book felt right for me, and I learned so much from Mady in the process.

A Quick & Easy Guide to Queer & Trans Identities Interior Art by Mady G. & J.R. Zuckerberg

Paste: This is also a very positive and affirming guide for folks who may be questioning themselves as well—how much of your personal journeys are reflected in that?

Mady G.: I’m a transmasculine person who is non-binary, and being in that nebulous space means I’m always questioning. It’s a piece of my perspective that has never left me, even as I transition. I think it’s natural for trans people to question, before and after they’ve come out or transitioned.

Zuckerberg: For so long, I was struggling to find a comfortable way to see myself and self-identify. My childhood self would’ve jumped with pure joy if they had known they/them pronouns were an option, and that I didn’t have to be a girl OR a boy. I’m more certain of who I am now more than ever and it’s no coincidence that I feel this way as the book is hitting the shelves. Working on the book has bridged a dialogue for me and many people in my life about being non-binary and trans. Knowing that the book has been able to be a tool for conversation as one of its co-authors, I can’t wait to see how it will guide readers through their own identity voyages and help them feel comfortable to introspect and self-express.

Paste: Did you reach out to other folks in the queer community to help inform some of the other identities and subject matter you discuss?

Mady G.: Absolutely. Direct discussions and interviews were a major source of our research. The best teacher is life experience, and we tried to carry those experiences into the book. We interviewed LGBTQ+ teens, young adults and elders, trying to gain as much perspective on how the community has changed and will probably continue to change as we evolve. Identity by nature is very personal, so proper representation is vital.

Zuckerberg: Every moment working on the book was a new opportunity for conversation, outreach and more research. The discussions and interviews that took place were absolutely vital in creating a guide that is as wide-reaching and inclusive as possible. Even while working on the fictional Sproutlings, I kept an open dialogue to do my best to ensure the different identities represented were well-informed and thought out.

Paste: What was the most challenging part of putting together the guide? What’s been the most rewarding thing so far?

Mady G.: The biggest challenge was organization, at least on my end. J.R. and I were living across the country from one another at the time. Once the process was ironed out, we were able to really get down to business. It’s very rewarding to think you can’t do something and then accomplish it. I used to think a graphic novel was an almost insurmountable goal, yet here we are. It’s unbelievable, and I’m so grateful for the opportunity. I also couldn’t ask for a better team behind us.

Zuckerberg: I felt similarly challenged by this. We started out with so many ideas and directions, and it was no easy task to put the pieces together while we were collaborating remotely. Going on calls and sharing sketches and progress digitally held us over until I took a trip out to Los Angeles this past summer, where we spent a handful of days smoothing out our process side-by-side. It felt so natural to return to working in a space together, sharing snacks and blasting out weirdo music while we drew. Those are the roots of our friendship and creative partnership, and being able to access that while working on the book was so rewarding. That friendship energy is where the magic truly happens.

A Quick & Easy Guide to Queer & Trans Identities Cover Art by Mady G. & J.R. Zuckerberg

Paste: Any plans for additional guides like this with Limerence Press in the future from the two of you?

Mady G.: I’m currently working on my next book. It’s not a “guide,” but it’s another graphic novel related to queerness and mental health. This time from a more directly personal and narrative perspective.

Zuckerberg: I’d really love to continue to explore the world of the Sproutlings, perhaps a longer format story with some interactive components. I’d also be very interested in delving into a nonfiction guide about queerness and medicine. These are just two of a handful of concepts floating in my head right now. That’s the stage I’m at, but I can’t wait to take the next steps with one of these ideas and embark on my next book project!

A Quick & Easy Guide to Queer & Trans Identities Cover Art by Mady G. & J.R. Zuckerberg

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