Reviewed February 2018
Lindsey Taggart, Assessment and Collection Development Librarian
Leonard H. Axe Library, Pittsburg State University
The Queer Cartoonist Database is a directory of artists that currently contains nearly 700 profiles. It is comprised of cartoonists who identify as members of “the queer rainbow”, including those identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, pansexual, transgender, and asexual. The database covers artists with a range of specialties, including writers, colorists, editors, translators, and more. It is maintained by award-winning author and cartoonist MariNaomi, who created this resource alongside the Cartoonists of Color Database to increase the visibility of marginalized creators. It is freely available and serves as a helpful tool for learning about currently active artists and new talents.
The responsive site is simple, user-friendly, and visually appealing. The homepage header includes a carousel slider of featured artists, who are also regularly highlighted on the database’s corresponding Facebook and Twitter pages. Users can search the directory using several filters. Alongside typical facets such as name, location, and age, users can also filter according to a creator’s preferred pronouns (with eleven options), gender/sex identifier (with eighteen options), ethnicity/nationality, genre of work (such as romance or memoir), and role (such as character designer or inker). There is also an option to restrict results to “CoC” (cartoonists of color). Search results populate at the bottom of the page. Each creator profile is short and simple, and is only viewable on the search results page. The entries feature the creator’s profile image, responses to the above filters, a list of work titles, the date the profile was last updated, and, perhaps most helpfully, links to the artist’s website(s). Creators can also enable a feature that allows users to directly contact them with one click.
The Queer Cartoonist Database is a directory, and as such provides minimal information that is meant to serve as a starting point for further research. There is only one image included in a creator’s profile, which is utilized inconsistently: some images are an actual creator photo, some are self-portraits, some are examples of work, and many profiles, unfortunately, do not provide any image. Having a few more images available might help users to get a better feel for an artist’s work. The database would also benefit from some customization options, such as the ability to create an account and curate a list of favorite artists. However, the free site is a small operation maintained through unpaid volunteer work (although one can support the site via Patreon), so such in-depth capabilities are likely out of the project’s current scope. Still, the database is extremely useful and provides a valuable and unique way to connect with cartoonists often marginalized in the field of sequential art. Also unique is the commendable way that profile entries are collected: anyone interested in being included in the database simply needs to navigate to the “Submit” tab and fill out a form, which helpfully allows for a deep degree of self-identification. To protect artists that do not wish to be listed in the database, MariNaomi’s policy is to only accept information directly from the creator. If a submission seems questionable, MariNaomi contacts the creator to ensure permission.
Overall, the Queer Cartoonist Database provides a valuable spotlight for showcasing LGBTQIA* artists, acting as a powerful way to amplify diverse voices in the world of cartooning. The site caters to a wide audience: students and artists can use it as a source for inspiration and community building; librarians and book sellers can use it as a collection development tool; educators can use it in coursework; clients can use it to hire artists; and creators may find it helpful for advancing their careers. Alongside the Cartoonists of Color Database and Women Who Draw, an open directory of female illustrators including transgender and gender non-conforming artists, the Queer Cartoonist Database is a valuable addition to the fields of comics and illustration.