A Quick & Easy Guide to Queer & Trans Identities from Limerence Press is the second comics to be published in their Quick & Easy line after the Quick & Easy Guide to They/Them Pronouns. This guide is created by cartoonists Mady G. and J. R. Zuckerberg and covers a range of identifying terms, from “homosexual” to “aromantic.” Does this guide keep the Quick & Easy line going strong?
As our guides through queer and trans identification, the guide uses cute snails and original creatures called Sproutlings to convey information as the creatures explain various terms and identities to one another. The earnestly curious snails make for funny characters hosting a discussion of queer and trans identities. I can’t say I expected snails to be the characters for the reader to connect with and learn from, but the charming way they’re rendered paired with the lighthearted dialogue made them immediately likable. Early on a snail says, “We snails do love to learn!” and I immediately nodded and embraced them as the guide’s hosts. The snails are drawn with charming expressions and I love the wiggly lines used to render their slimy bodies. There’s a panel where the word “gender” is rendered in a snail’s path of discharged slime and frankly, I have to stan.
What I wanted most from this guide was for it to not only present its information in a manner that is not only easy for most readers to absorb but was conveyed with enough nuance to feel genuinely inclusive. When trying to reach broader audiences, education surrounding queer and trans identities can, at times, become simplified enough to actually become exclusionary or too simplified to actually feel representative. I’m happy to report this guide succeeds in balancing accessibility with nuance, defining concepts and terms without claiming that these creators’ definition is the end all, be all.
For example, when explaining the history behind using the word “queer,” the guide does a great job of quickly outlining how the term has evolved from slur to reclaimed identifier. However, the creators also include a panel complicating that arc with the fact that many people are still uncomfortable with the term “queer,” because of its history as a slur, or the ways in which it may have been used against them personally. Maintaining this balance of accessibility and nuance is a tricky thing, but the creators of this guide make it look easy.
Throughout the guide, there is an ongoing narrative involving a snail meeting some creatures called “Sproutlings.” These Sproutlings are adorable creatures native to the guide’s forest setting whose round bodies and animal-like faces are almost Muppet-like. The transitions from the snails’ lessons to the Sproutlings’ demonstrations could’ve been a bit smoother, but they leveled out the pace of the guide nicely, giving the reader’s brain a break from straight information for a moment or two.
The guide uses the Sproutlings as a way to demonstrate the concepts defined by the snails. This makes for a very smart way to show the application of concepts like being transgender or asexual which fits perfectly with the guides tone and aesthetic. Speaking of the aesthetic, the overall visuals of the guide are a treat. The purple, pink, and blue palette is very gentle on the eyes and the colors pop well against one another as well as the white background. Pages between segments are full of petals, fungi, and snails situated like the back of a playing card, making for a cute way to fill space. The title pages for each new segment employ equally adorable fonts that fit the natural aesthetic well. The layouts are also really expressive and varied and the creators make great use of the snails’ adhesive bodies, sometimes rendering them upside down as they cling to panel borders while they speak.
The last section of the guide was a pretty general guide to dating and relationships. While this section’s descriptions of healthy dating habits and red flags were all important for everyone to understand, I wish the section was more specific to queer people and the ways in which their relationships may be informed by their queerness. It was a great overview on dating, but I wish more page time had been used to dive even deeper into queer and trans identities rather than less specific dating advice.