It’s the Fourth of July, and all over the United States people are celebrating (the memory of) Independence. Renowned comics publishers Françoise Mouly, Nadja Spiegelman and Gabe Fowler have compiled a special edition of Resist! for this occasion – a 96-page tabloid that is distributed for free, and guess what – I’m in it!!!
In this blog, I’d like to showcase the three running comics series I have right now: one is for lesbian magazine Zij aan Zij, the second for protestant magazine Predikant & Samenleving, and the third is popular science magazine Wetenschap in Beeld.
The comic about bisexual Minnie is the longest running, I’ve been drawing it for 13 years! In this episode, Minnie gets philosophical (as I get in Philosophy: a Discovery in Comics). I used this story as well in my latest book, on Love.
Reverend De Heer (my alter ego) has been running since 2012. I love drawing it, it gives me a chance to comment on a lot of current issues. Most Dutch Protestant reverends are rather laid-back people who are pretty open-minded about everything – I should know, I’m the product of two of them (see for more on this my graphic novel Religion: a Discovery in Comics).
The third comic is the newest: I’ve been drawing this for a popular science magazine for less than a year. I love doing research on different scientific topics (much like I did in Science: a Discovery in Comics) and it’s always a challenge to get all the information in the panel.
I like that being a simple comic artist gives me the chance to touch upon so many different subjects at the same time!
Many best wishes to everyone this Christmas and let’s hope for a New Year with many new chances and opportunities for good. The past year was discomforting in many ways – it even affected my comic character Minnie, who’s usually pretty carefree…
Here’s the New Year’s card Yiri and I have sent out this year – it’s based on a New Year’s card from 1917, exactly 100 years ago! It references voting because that’s what we’re going to do in The Netherlands in a few months.
I’m very proud to announce that my longest running comic character, Mijntje or Minnie as I’ve called her in english, is out now as a digital comic – the first of a series, containing both old material dating back as far as 2004, and completely new never-seen-before adventures.
For people who know me solely from my educational graphic novels Philosophy: a Discovery in Comics and Science: a Discovery in Comics – my Minnie comic is something completely different: these are one-page gag comics with lesbian/bisexual themes, and sometimes feature nudity or even (oh dear) full on girl-on-girl sex. There is one huge similarity with my other works though: Minnie is definitely educational.
Mijntje started in 2004 when I was still a budding comic artist, hoping for an opportunity to start a regular 1-page comic in a magazine so I could really develop a character with a background story, friends & family. This opportunity came when someone tipped me that lesbian magazine Zij aan Zij was looking for a new comic artist.
After a short briefing by editor Maria van Oosten on what she was looking for in a comic (aimed at younger audience, including bisexuals, not just lesbians), the figure of Mijntje entered my brain like a redheaded hurricane, fully fledged – there was no struggle in defining her character or appearance, it was like she had always been out there, waiting for a chance to lodge herself in my drawing hand.
Sometimes comics write themselves like that and it’s a wonderful experience, like floating. Mijntje’s comics have never been hard to write, I just have to think up a situation and Mijntje-in-my-head automatically dictates the dialogue.
I called her Mijntje because “mijn” means “mine”, and she’s been mine from the very start.
With Mijntje came her girlfriend Mia, who’s a bit more level-headed, introverted and loyal, and they’ve been together ever since the beginning. Sure, I’ve given them some challenges with Mijntje’s loose behavior, and I toyed with the idea of inflicting a break-up on them, but I didn’t have the heart. The worst they had was a full-on crisis after Mijntje slept with another girl – I made that into one long story, drawn on 24-hour comics day in 2006, it’s been unpublished up until now but will appear in Minnie’s second issue.
In Minnie #1 I have gathered some of the early stories: Minnie’s break-up with her boyfriend Ruben, the first real sex with Mia, her coming out with her mother and at her work, Minnie meeting Mia’s two lesbian mothers. The issue starts with a 3-page story that I recently drew, about Minnie as a little girl. Two pages of this story appeared in magazine Zij aan Zij, along with an interview with me, to celebrate Mijntje’s Tenth Anniversary.
I’m extra thrilled that Minnie is out as a comic now because after 2006, when I made a small booklet containing the first 15 comics, there have been many plans to publish more of her adventures – but they all fell flat. It wasn’t until last year, when Northwest Press published ten Minnie-pages in the anthology Anything That Loves: comics beyond gay and straight, that a way opened up to this international leap. Publisher Zan Christensen of Northwest Press is giving her and me this wonderful digital opportunity, and I hope Minnie will reach many new readers this way.
I started ‘Mijntje’ for Dutch lesbian magazine Zij aan Zij in 2004 and she’s my oldest and longest running comic. Mijntje is a 22 year old bisexual girl who’s in a relationship with Mia, with various adventures on the side.
Especially for ‘Anything That Loves’, I have translated ten comics, and re-christened Mijntje into Minnie for the english-speaking world.
Given the ongoing struggle for any minority that doesn’t fit into what other groups define as “normal”, I think this will be an important book that will contribute to the visibility of the shifting realities of sexuality, instead of the cliches. I’m proud my Minnie can be part of this, and I encourage anyone with an interest in the subject to back the Kickstarter here to receive the book – and there are also cool T-shirts to order!
Here’s a preview of one of the ten Minnie comics that will be in the book: