Kickstarter to Host Bluestockings Comics Fest for Queer and Trans Creators

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Illustration by Iasmin Omar Ata
Illustration by Iasmin Omar Ata

It’s no secret I’m an advocate for queer and trans creators. Regardless of my identity as a queer Chinese American cis woman, it’s 2020 and it’s an empathetic and ethical stance to take. What are we here for if not to make this world more compassionate? Sometimes you have to start small to prove to others that such a world can exist. That is exactly what I was thinking when I partnered with Joan Dark of Bluestockings Bookstore to host the 2020 Bluestockings Comics Fest, which will be held at Kickstarter’s Brooklyn headquarters on Saturday, July 18.

Bluestockings is a volunteer-powered, collectively-owned radical bookstore and activist center in New York City. Their mission is to provide literature and resources about oppression, intersectionality, community organizing, and activism, and sharing the stories of marginalized people. I couldn’t have asked for a better partner to showcase comics by the LGBTQIA+ community.

The 2020 fest will include panels and professional development workshops, as well as a wide range of exhibitors. We have space for up to 40 vendors and we are primarily looking for queer and trans people of color, gender non-conforming folx, immigrants, low-income creators, disabled folx, intersex folx, Middle Eastern + Arab + North African creators, East + South Asian creators, indigenous creators, and marginalized creators as a whole who are excluded for one reason or another from popular narratives.

Making a living as an artist is hard enough, and when you’re exhibiting at a convention or festival, you have to hustle to make enough sales to break even on table fees, along with food, lodging, and travel costs. Too often, the arts are a pay-to-play game.

That’s why we decided to cover all the table fees—$2,000 in total to Bluestockings—as well as providing lunch for vendors and staff, and offering stipends to workshop leaders.

Right now, we’re getting guidance from members of the Festival Workers Association to ensure the event is completely made for and by the comics community. Our goal is that both long-standing comics professionals and emerging artists can use this event to make meaningful connections with each other and with comics fans.

Creators can apply here. Folks who are unable to attend can still have a chance to sell their books at the Bluestockings table and can use the same application, which closes at midnight EST on Sunday, February 28.

Workshop and panel applications can be found here and will close at midnight EST on Sunday, March 8. Stipends will be offered to workshop leaders. All applications will go through a curation process overseen by Bluestockings volunteers and Kickstarter representatives, with a focus on black and brown creators and folx working to highlight social justice issues.

We’re so excited to partner with an organization like Bluestockings to showcase these incredible creators and artists this summer.

Bluestockings Comics Festival illustration created by Iasmin Omar Ata.