LGBTQIA superheroes are finally – FINALLY – getting some opportunities to shine, even if by doing so, they face even more scrutiny. I’m thinking of the likes of lesbian-identifying Batwoman, of course, who – described as the highest-profile gay superhero to appear in comics (and then TV show) – may be as effective in kicking villains’ butts, but are also dissected because of who they are/sleep with/choose to love.
And we’re not even talking about the race of the superhero yet, which is another layer that – apparently – merits scrutiny if one is a superhero; and even a fictional one at that…
At least for Ylva Publishing’s CEO, Astrid Ohletz: “We certainly need more women of color and lesbian superheroes represented in popular culture.”
And this is why Ylva Publishing – a small indie publishing house – decided to turn into a graphic novel “The Power of Mercy”, a lesbian book by Fiona Zedde, about a black queer superhero.
“The Power of Mercy” tells the story of Mai Redstone. To her family, she is weak. But when she dons a mask and becomes Mercy, a rooftop-climbing chameleon with at least nine lives, she finds her power. But when Mercy is called in by police to a murder case, her whole world threatens to crumble. The dead man made her childhood a hell. She is torn between giving the murderer a medal and finding the killer for her family. Amid it all is enigmatic Xóchitl, awoman with dangerous secrets who claws her way into Mai’s life.
Forty-three-year-old Zedde, a Jamaican-born, award-winning author of over 20 novels, splits her time between Atlanta and Madrid. How readers interacted with her book inspired the graphic novel.
“After The Power of Mercy was published as a novella with its very cool illustrated cover, a few readers wrote wanting to know if there were plans to make it a graphic novel,” Zedde recalled. “They were so eager to devour the story again in a new form. When I mentioned these responses to my publisher, she didn’t immediately laugh them off. A few days later, she gave me one of the best surprises I’ve had in a long time.”
“I thought, why not?” Ylva Publishing’s Ohletz said. “It’s a brilliant story and it really lends itself to being told in art. We certainly need more women of color and lesbian superheroes represented in popular culture. And it’s great we have an ‘own voice’ author who brings us amazing women of color lesbian superhero. This is so important because even though the ice has started to melt for these kinds of superheroes in our entertainment, we are not nearly where we need to be.”
The graphic novel will be created by the team at Streetlight Graphics, under artist Glendon Haddix.
Zedde hopes her book will inspire readers to seek out more stories like “The Power of Mercy”.
“I want to leave the readers with a hunger for more graphic novels and stories like this that reflect people of color and powerful queer women. My biggest wish-list take-away: that these types of stories are not only valid and wonderful but they also sell well.”
So for now, move just a little, Batwoman (and LGBTQIA characters) to give space for more characters made for and by LGBTQIA people…
Check out “The Power of Mercy” graphic novel from Ylva Publishing.