Highlighting LGBTQ+ Creatives
Fans of queer comics may already have come across the work of Floatyspacecat. For those who haven’t, here’s the perfect introduction. Jacob Lawrence, the artist behind it all, caught up with GCN and shared their journey.
I’m a comic artist! I try to upload at least one comic a day on my Instagram, and I’ve managed to keep that pace up for the past four years or so. They’re all four panelled, fully coloured and with backgrounds, and everything is a simple enough cartoony design, so it only takes an hour or two every day to draw one.
I had top surgery at the end of April, and did simple greyscale-coloured comics for a while after it so 1) I could rest and heal up and 2) manage to not lose my entire marbles with boredom while we were stuck in the single Travelodge bedroom.
I used to write my comics as true-to-life situations I encountered, but since “The Plague”, days had gotten very samey, which is incredibly difficult to draw about, and usually depressing when I did get something down. So one day I drew a little purple worm-on-a-string toy (you know the ones, “Cool magic worm! Invisible string! Do tricks and amaze your friends!”) and stuck that up on my Instagram. Meanwhile in a group chat with my friends, we had a wonderfully chaotic time giving the worm a personality and backstory, which my followers absolutely adored, so I decided I’d keep going with them instead of the autobiographical kind of comics.
I’m also infamous among my friends for complaining at length about queer representation in media, so of course the idea came to me of making as much diverse rep as possible in these new wormie comics- if I’m not seeing it in regular media, then by god I’ll make it myself.
I wrote in some of my friends from the group chat as little animal characters to be friends with the worm (affectionately named Mr Wiggly); friends who didn’t perhaps have the best childhood. My friends were queer kids, foster kids, kids raised by strict Catholics, poor kids, adopted kids, Jewish kids, Disabled kids; you know, regular people you’d know in your daily life. But as we all know, mainstream media is a cishet white man’s fantasy land, and the first time I saw myself represented in media was the film Boys Don’t Cry (which I do not recommend as anyone’s introduction to queer issues, let alone a questioning child who’s looking for answers to who they might be).
My working process is asking my friends, “what do you wish you had as a child?” Some of us wanted a strong friend group, some of us wish we had a choice with our religions, some of us just wanted to be seen as a normal kid. So everyday, every comic I write, I try to reach into their past a little and give them some peace.
I grew up as a Transgender, undiagnosed Disabled kid with autism. I had as much support as was available at the time, which in ‘90s and early ‘00s, Ireland was not the best. I recognise just how privileged I am to have had parents that tried their best and spared no expense on my health, and I’m also experienced enough to recognise that what I went through was still incredibly, heartbreakingly, traumatic. I would have given anything to see myself positively in media, instead of heterosexual, able-bodied portrayals of us where at worst we were feared, and best pitied.
I did find a ray of light as a teenager in a podcast called Welcome to Night Vale, which did so much for my soul that I now have a half-sleeve tattoo of art dedicated to it. The revolutionary thing they did wasn’t that they had a gay man as the main character, it was them having a gay man as the main character who was openly happy and not mistreated for being gay. He was only a voice from a podcast that I listened to on the family computer in the back room, but as he openly gushed about his crush on the new man that arrived in town, I finally felt like I was allowed to have a future.
On the most part, people are so wonderful about my comics. I get so many DM’s telling me that I’m the first person they’ve seen include someone like them in a happy, normal setting, and they’re so grateful that I don’t write bad endings for them (most of us are familiar with the “bury your gays” trope; well many a negative trope exists for every other minority too).
Of course there’s the TERFs and the transphobes and the actual literal nazis, but I manage to stay above the waves of them by keeping an eye on my posts for the first hour or two and blocking anyone that so much as looks like they’re starting stuff. If someone is just a bit naive and actually trying to understand something, that’s fine; I’ve gotten apologies from people who’ve mistakenly commented something insulting once I’ve explained what’s going on, but if I check their profile and see nazi dogwhistles that’s generally a good sign to just block them right off the bat before you lose a good hour of your life getting angrier at their escalating cruelty. Don’t give them your time, and don’t give them a platform.
My goal is to keep making these comics and get them to the widest audience I possibly can. Currently I have 43k followers on Instagram, but the algorithm for that app has been an absolute nightmare to work with the past couple of years. They’ve been cracking down on art accounts by gearing things toward videos and stories, and I’ve seen it drastically affect my engagement. I’m still happy with it for now, but one day I feel like I’ll need to move sites. It’ll be difficult because I’ll have hundreds of comics to move, but that’s a problem for future me when I’ve fully healed from my top surgery and get my bearings again.
My Instagram is @floatyspacecat, and if anyone wants to help me afford rent and groceries after my top surgery (I had to go abroad and pay for it all myself because Ireland is tragic for Trans healthcare) my kofi account is: ko-fi.com/Floatyspacecat
I’ll be setting up my Shopify store again too, so if you follow my Instagram you’ll see when that opens up!