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Bisexual Canadian Hijinks… ah, the beauty of the Internet!

By Chris Lowrance


Published: Monday, November 15, 2004

Updated: Monday, January 18, 2010

Liliane and a friend consider the merits of a genderless society in “Het-Dyke.”

One of many things Lilliane is thankful for.

A few weeks ago, I talked about the potential of the Internet to diversify comics. By that, I mean the Internet can diversify the audience for comics. Comics creators are already a widely varied lot. According to industry surveys, comics readers are mostly white guys. That doesn’t mean only white guys are making them; it’s just that a lot of work by “marginal” creators never gets to your local comic shop. Sure, it might get picked up by some obscure independent printer, or self-published, but that doesn’t guarantee it will be given valuable shelf space. Stores only carry what they know they can sell. Much like American democracy, if you don’t share tastes with the mainstream, you’re left out in the cold. Never one to settle for such things, I’ve found used bookstores to be a good source of obscure comics. Browsing one of my favorites the other week, I came across “Assume Nothing, The Evolution of a Bi-Dyke.” Printed in 1997, the book collects strips from as early as 1992 by Leanne Franson, Montreal cartoonist and illustrator, about her semi-autobiographical character Liliane, and her adventures with coming out, finding anonymous lumps of skin in her apartment, and trying to conceive a child. In short, I struck gold. So imagine my surprise when, a few weeks later, I started seeing ads for “Liliane, Bi-Dyke” online! As it turns out, the creator of my seven-year-old bookstore find has been publishing online since April. The Internet strikes again. “Liliane, Bi-Dyke” is a series of stories from the life of, you guessed it, Liliane, now a middle-aged homeowner, as she picks up rude young lesbians at dog parks and pretends to be “normal” for a date. Franson updates every day with a new page for the current story. Completed stories are viewable via links on the bottom of the page. The site itself is a bit plain, but easily navigated and full of content. The same could be said for Franson’s art, consisting mostly of thin black lines. Characters are drawn with ovals for heads and dots with a few lines for eyes. Think “Cathy,” only gay. And, you know, actually funny. This art style works well, though, for the confessional style of Franson’s stories, such as “Dog Park Pickup,” wherein Liliane ponders why queer women never go to dog parks to meet other women, the way straights and gay men do. Sure enough, she meets a young butch lesbian twenty years younger, who wastes no time in getting to the point. Liliane quickly discovers how pushy and rude the young can be, while the girl in turn discovers that straights aren’t the only ones to grow up, get jobs, and have mortgages. Liliane also teaches her a thing or two about safe sex, although the lesson doesn’t seem too appreciated. Besides slice-of-life stories, Liliane also educates. “Tips on Passing,” for instance, is a series of lessons on how a woman can “pass” as a man. Beyond baggy clothes and a haircut, she dissects the complicated mannerisms associated with gender, such as styles of walking and gripping objects. Liliane even explains a few categories men and women might fall into without actually “passing” as the opposite sex, such as “slovenly female” or “butch.” Even if you aren’t female, you’ll learn something about yourself (I expected qualify as “faggy,” but turns out I’m more masculine than I thought. Who knew?). The current Liliane story, “Things I’m Thankful For,” began after the U.S. elections. She outlines the various things about her society she loves, such as the right to marry another woman, the freedom to make comics depicting gay sex, free healthcare, access to birth-control, and the safety to walk alone at night. Obviously, she lives in Canada, so sympathetic Americans may get depressed and start considering a one-way ticket north. Franson’s point, however, isn’t to brag about Canada’s progress, but to show others how important it is to protect what gains have been made. Leanne Franson’s “Liliane” is another example of why the Internet is so important to the growth of comics. Your chances of finding something like this in an American comic-book store is slim to none, and it’s a shame. Just like everything else in life, the world of comics can only benefit by increased representation and understanding. Thankfully, there are diverse creators out there, and the Internet can deliver them the audience they deserve.

“Liliane, Bi-Dyke” can be found at: “Assume Nothing” is no longer in print, but more print collections by Leanne Franson can be found from the URL above.

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