‘The Queer Heroes Coloring Book’ by Tara Madison Avery and Jon Macy
Author: Cathy Camper
December 15, 2016
I was thinking, in a way, adult coloring books are like drum machines. When they first came out, they seemed unique and unusual, so everyone hustled to get one or include one in their music. Then suddenly, every song in the world had a drum machine, just like every bookstore was loaded with adult coloring books. And once everyone has one, or has heard of it, it became obvious–a machine is playing that rhythm track! A robot drew these coloring pictures–and then everyone ditches them for the next new best thing.
I have to make an exception, however, for this coloring book, because this coloring book is drawn by humans, and it is adult, because it includes folks like James Baldwin (by Burton Clarke), John Waters (by Sonya Saturday), Tom of Finland (by Hanna-Pirita Lehkonen), Jerome Caja (by Justin Hall) and Grace Jones (by Some Guy). If you’re looking for the perfect holiday gift or birthday present, search no more. This book features forty notable queer folks, drawn by dozens of LGBTQ artists, with a nice little biography at the back explaining who these folks are and what they did.
For example, you’ll find well-known icons like Frida Kahlo (drawn by Elizabeth Beier), as well as Oscar Wilde (by Maia Kobabe), but also Edward Gorey, (by Dylan Edwards), Samuel Delany (by Ajuan Mance), Kumahina (by JessicaRenee BogacMoore), and G.L.O.S.S–Girls Living Outside of Society’s Shit (a trans women’s punk rock band, drawn by Knave Murdock). There’s writers (Joanna Russ by Tyler Cohen), entertainers (Divine by Ed Luce), politicians Malcolm X (by Diego Gomez), and characters (Sister George,) by my sister Jennifer Camper. In other words, pretty much a queer hero for everyone.
And although this is an adult coloring book, it’s introduction makes it clear that teens might love and need it too.
Growing up, we all need heroes, people who do the things we need done, but can’t always do for ourselves. For people in the LGBTQUAI community who are from their youngest days ostracized, misunderstood, and subject to threat of violence by both their peers and those in positions of authority, knowing that there have been other people in this world who have faced the same odds or greater and overcome is an indispensable source of inspiration.
A suggestion–bring this along to the next conservative family gathering you have to attend, and when they drag out coloring books of flower gardens, undersea creatures, and geometric patterns; crack these pages open to Oliver Stacks (by Dave Davenport) or Ian McKellan (by Howard Cruse) and see what kind of queer educational sabotage of ignorance you can do. You never know, Grandma might help you color Dom DeLuise and Paul Lynde (by Mike Sullivan).
By Tara Madison Avery and Jon Macy
Stacked Deck Press
Paperback, 9780997048735, 276 pp.