Review: "Liebestrasse" is a frighteningly relevant LGBTQ graphic novel set in the Weimar Republic

Liebestrasse is a new original digital graphic novel from Comixology, but it follows more in the European tradition of small, character-focused slice-of-life stories than the bombastic speculative fiction that's made the American graphic novel field so popular. In less than 100 pages, it tells the story of an American businessman named Sam who takes a job in Berlin during the Weimar Republic, where he meets and falls in love with an art dealer named Phillip.

Of course, the dramatic irony abounds. As readers, we know what Germany's immediate future holds—and soon enough, that other shoe does indeed drop. But also as readers, it's easy to get wrapped in the simple tenderness of burgeoning romance and ignore the warning signs that lurk in the shadows—just like Sam and Phillip.

The rapport between the two lovers is charming and realistic, with Phillip's witty flamboyance playing perfectly off of Sam's strong silent Americanisms. Artist Tim Fish does tremendous work with the subtleties of facial expressions; though the style is slightly more cartoonish than what most American readers might expect, I found myself consciously commenting on the acting as I read through the pages, as if these were actual people rather than drawings. I read a lot of comics, and that's something rare and unique, at least in the American market. The color palette by Hector Barros also gives the story a very classical comic vibe that fits the time period. Though the pigments are digital, the simple, solid color patterns evoke a more innocent era. Read the rest

U.S. military ends trans ban

The Pentagon today ended its ban on transgender people serving in the U.S. military. The historic announcement formally removes some of the risks faced by an estimated thousands of U.S. troops, who could have been expelled from the armed forces because of their gender identity. Trans people who serve in the armed forces still have harassment, sexual violence, physical assault, and prejudice to face, but the hatred and sickness no longer has a Pentagon directive to hid behind. Read the rest