Very merry Pride 2022! While I am sure that many of us read queer comics throughout the year, this is the month to remember how queer stories shape the world. Ask your closest LGBTQIA+ friend how queer entertainment shaped their life and what representation means to them because it’s the time of year to remember why. 

Supporting queer stories shape lives and are critical for youth who are still discovering their identities. However, the American Library Association‘s Office for Intellectual Freedom reported the United States saw an unprecedented number of book bans in 2021, with over 700 challenges to materials (some of which contain more than one title). In most circumstances, the grassroots conservative groups responsible for these campaigns target books about the Black or LGBTQIA+ communities. 

This Pride, it’s more important than ever to support your favorite queer comic book creator or author. With that in mind, I have rounded up the Pride Month releases and deals from comic book publishers, from the Big Two to independent press.

RELATED: DC Comics Annual Pride Anthology Returns for 2022

Vault Comics UNBANNED Initiative

Heathen cover of girl on horseback and Submerged covered of someone under water

Photo: Vault Comics

On the first day of Pride Month, Vault Comics announced a new initiative, UNBANNED, to give away free queer-themed comic books every week. Not only does the said initiative celebrate queer creators, but it also aims to fight the unprecedented uptick in book bans by getting queer books in the hands of everyone, everywhere. In the press release, the company noted that many bans were targeting queer books and pledged to create a safe space for everyone, saying:

“While politicians and extremist groups may be working hard to erase LGBTQIA+ voices, we at Vault Comics continue to maintain that this space, *our space*, always has and will always be safe — but more than safe, it will be loud, proud, and unapologetic… So, for the next five weeks, Vault is giving away a different LGBTQIA+ themed title, by LGBTQIA+ creators, on our digital store for free.”

To get your free digital comic, use the code: “UNBANNED” and check back each Monday for a new title you can add to your library. The free digital downloads include Heathen Vol. 1 on June 1, Submerged on June 6; She Said Destroy on June 13, Test on June 20, and Queen of Bad Dreams and Hollow Heart on June 27.

DC Pride #1 (2022)

DC Pride 2022 Cover featuring different LGBTQ DC heroes in rainbow colors

Photo: DC Comics

DC Pride #1, a 104-page anthology featuring all-new stories about DC’s fan-favorite queer characters, arrived in comic shops and online on June 7. The issue features an entirely new team of queer creators from last year’s issue, including Jadzia Axelrod and Lynne Yoshii’s story about Batgirl, AKA Alysia Yeoh, and a Dani Fernandez and Zoe Thorogood story about Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy.

DC’s New LGBTQIA+ Series

Poison Ivy and Tim Drake covers for Pride

Photo: DC Comics

Before Pride Month, DC Comics announced several new queer titles that will debut throughout 2022, beginning with DC’s June 7 releases. There’s Poison Ivy by G. Willow WilsonMarcio Takara, Arif Prianto and Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou, and Nubia: Queen of the Amazons by Stephanie Williams, Alitha Martinez and Mark Morales

According to DC Publicity, other new Pride titles include Multiversity: Teen Justice comic book by Ivan Cohen, Danny Lore, Marco Failla and Enrica Eren Angiolini, featuring the POC nonbinary superhero Kid Quick and the other young heroes of Earth-11, and DC Pride: Tim Drake Special, a character who recently came out as bisexual, by Meghan Fitzmartin, Belén Ortega and Alberto Jimenez Alburquerque. (Learn more here.)

Marvel’s Voices: Pride #1 (2022)

Marvel's Voices Pride leading a Pride parade on the bifrost

Photo: Marvel Comics

This year’s jam-packed Marvel’s Voices: Pride #1 arrives on June 22. Created by an all-new, all-different roster of LGBTQIA+ writers and artists, the issue will include eight diverse stories about queer characters across Marvel Comics. New York Times best-selling writer Charlie Jane Anders is continuing the Marvel Pride tradition of introducing a new queer character to the Marvel (last year’s anthology presented the mutant Somnus, who became a member of the Marauders team.

RELATED: 10 Queer Comix To Read for Pride Month

Excitingly, the new character introduced this year is a trans mutant Escapade, AKA Shela Sexton, and she is getting a 20-page debut story. The story is written by an all-trans and nonbinary creative team that includes Anders, Stein, Ted Brandt and Tamra Bonvillain.

In addition to the oversized Marvel’s Voices: Pride, the publisher announced it would celebrate Pride with a new variant cover series designed by Luciano Vecchio (who is also the creator of the new Marvel Infinity Comic about Iceman, which has a weekly release throughout June on Marvel Unlimited), and Betsy Cola. Marvel’s Pride variants will be released throughout June.

Archie Debuts Pansexual Character

Archie & Friends Summer Lovin' Character Cover

Photo: Archie Comics

This week, Archie Comics released a new one-shot digest, Archie & Friends: Summer Lovin’ #1, with a feature story, “Carnival Love” is by Tee Franklin, Dan Parent, Bob Smith, Glenn Whitmore and Jack Morelli, and it introduces a new pansexual character, Eliza Han, to Riverdale.

“I remember my grandmother collecting Archie digests way back in the ’70s,” Franklin told The Beat. “Archie Comics’ longevity is a sight to behold; they’ve been inclusive for decades, and for me to be given a chance to create a brand new bi-racial, plus-sized, pansexual, disabled character for Archie is truly surreal. I wish my grandmother were still here to see her namesake, Eliza Han.”

IDW’s Pride Month Spotlight

Cover of Be Gay Do Comics

Photo: IDW Publishing

IDW Publishing is celebrating Pride Month by spotlighting queer titles, kicking off the event with a shout-out. On June 2, IDW tweeted, “We’re celebrating #PrideMonth by spotlighting some of our LGBTQIA titles; starting off is Be Gay Do Comics! This graphic novel is filled with dozens of comics about LGBTQIA experiences, from personal stories to queer history to cutting satire about pronoun panic and more.”

The queer comic anthology Be Gay, Do Comics! Queer History, Memoir, and Satire from The Nib include LGBTQIA+ stories from Shelby Criswell’s “Astrological Signs as Classic Queer Haircuts” to Nero O’Reilly’s “Sometimes I Call Myself Queer: Sometimes I Feel Like a Liar” to Levi Hastings and Dorian Alexander’s “The Life of Gad Beck: Gay. Jewish. Nazi Fighter.”

Additionally, the anthology features more than 30 other stories from cartoonists, including Maia Kobabe, Bianca Xunise, Kendra Wells and Benjamin Alison Wilgus.

Oni Press Limited Edition Charity Prints 

Gender Queer graphic novel cover eir discovering eirself

Photo: Oni Press

Oni Press is releasing an 11″ x 14″ limited edition giclee art print of the ALA Alex Award and Stonewall/Israel Fishman Non-fiction Award Honor Book-winner, Gender Queer: A Memoir Deluxe Edition, featuring new art from Maia Kobabe eirself. With each purchase, Oni will donate $10 to Trans Lifeline, a grassroots organization that provides direct financial and emotional assistance to the trans community.

Gender Queer was 2021’s most banned book. In the original graphic novel, Kobabe, who uses e/em/eir pronouns, tells a personal story charting eir journey of self-identity. Gender Queer is a valuable guide on gender identity for people everywhere.

Pride Month Discounts

Flung Out of Space and Lifetime Passes cover art

Photo: Abrams Books

There are also a few publishers and imprints that are offering discounts for Pride Month. First up, Abrams Books is offering a discount for Pride. On June 3, the publisher tweeted, “Happy #PrideMonth! We are celebrating by offering 25% OFF LGBTQ+ books for the entire month of June. Use code PROUD at checkout to take advantage of this exciting discount!”

I have some queer comic book suggestions if you want to take advantage of Abram’s 25 percent discount in June. If you’re a Disney theme park fan, pick Lifetime Passes by Claudia Aguirre and Terry Blas. The OGN follows a group of friends who devise a plan to get lifetime passes to Kingdom Adventure, a theme park that’s a lot like Disneyland.

RELATED: The Best Moments From Every Episode of Our Flag Means Death

Another queer summer read if you are a classic thriller fan is Flung Out of Space by Grace Ellis and Hannah Templer, described as “both a love letter to the essential lesbian novel, The Price of Salt, and an examination of its notorious author, Patricia Highsmith,” a lesbian consumer with self-loathing (trust me it’s relevant). The OGN tells the story of the events leading up to Highsmith writing the novel, Strangers on a Train, which was adapted into a classic film by Alfred Hitchcock in 1951. 

TJ and Amal blue and yellow cover art of two gay me

Photo: Iron Circus Comics

Iron Circus Comics is also offering a discount for Pride. On June 2, the publisher tweeted, “For all of #PrideMonth, we’ll use this thread to highlight queer characters in ICC books. These comics are on sale for 33% OFF for ALL of June. It’s a great chance to support the media you want to see and get a great deal! Stay tuned!”

Iron Circus is known for its comics from diverse, queer talent. This year, I recommend starting with the 500-page omnibus of the critically acclaimed The Less Than Epic Adventures of TJ and Amal by E.K. Weaver, about a man who calls off his arranged marriage, comes out as gay to his conservative parents and has a one-of-a-kind road trip romance, which ran from 2009 to 2014.

Pride Month Humble Bundle

The Humble Bundle offers a collection of LGBTQ comics and graphic novels that explore the breadth of the queer experience this June. When you purchase the Pride Month bundle, you can send money to support The Trevor Project, the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ young people. Participating in the Humble Bundle is BOOM! Studios, Archie Comics, IDW, Oni Press and more.

https://twitter.com/humble/status/1534264205544722434?s=20&t=3_5B3X4F3Zq_8ntAnJ8Ytw

There are different price points available for the bundle. The top tier of the bundle includes 58 titles, whereas the lowest tied ($1) contains seven comics. The bundle consists of titles for all ages featuring a wide range of queer characters from Kevin Keller to Nyneve to Charlie.

This article was originally published on 6/12/22.

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