Glamazonia The Uncanny Super Tranny

Glamazonia The Uncanny Super Tranny

Review by Joe Palmer

Justin Hall, Diego Gomez, Jon Macy and Fred Noland and a whopping bonanza of other artists
Northwest Press
$24.99

Ah, Glamazonia! As glamorous as ever with her bouffant, lush lips, amazing abs, assertive breasts, a devil may care attitude backed up with a her own brand justice. Ignore the bit of self-centeredness and give the lady her due! Glamazonia’s journey from an occasional B & W strip when she first came to my attention to this four color extravaganza has been a long time coming and it’s about damn time!

But you’re finally here so I’ll be good.

In case the cover image doesn’t clue you in enough to get a sense of Glamazonia, let me say that she’s all about taking the conventions of superheroes and turning them on a collective ear or maybe a more appropriate position might be scissored. And pity if I just lost you, dear gay man, with the lesbian sex reference. At least  I wrote scissored instead of sandpapered. Oops. Well, just don’t Google it if you don’t know what it is. Glamazonia is all about queering it up and — oh dear! Did I just lose you now because of the Q word? But she is queer right from the get-go and Justin Hall and a whole bus-load of others have a hell of a lot of fun with her in this book.

It’s like a “buck a bag” sale at the local thrift shop and the big girls section just got stocked with good stuff before you walk in when it comes to the stories! A 120 pages worth comprising seven stories and a bounty of “One To Glam On” public service announcements (AKA one page strips), a pin up, a mock comic cover, and a foreword by Peaches Christ and a couple embellishments to round it off. I did not hear you say “Peaches who?”, did I? If you must, then slyly dash off and look her up on the interwebs. Just don’t look up sandpaper and lesbians and make a face when you learn what it is because it ain’t like you haven’t done something that might gross out others.

Time travel stories usually induce eye rolling or make little sense to me. Time Travel Tranny does neither as Glamazonia comes to the aid of Professor Dikhead who’s being threatened by a future menace. Glams is in for a huge surprise when she travels to the future to deal with the threat! She’s got a short fuse!

J. F. Killer is Hall’s figurative centerpiece and the most ambitious piece both in story length (23 pages) and subject matter. Boy reporter Jimmy Wholesome tracks down Glamazonia in the Castro as he investigates his theory on who shot JFK. He learns how off base the theory as she spills her sob story while ordering Jimmy around. JFK’s womanizing is well documented but our beloved President and Marilyn’s heart might have belonged to daddy, but Glamazonia playing all the sides in the whole Cuba mess. Everyone except that pudgy, ugly Kruschev. You got to have some standards! Hall also introduces an arch rival to Glamazonia and explores his uncanny super tranny’s power set in a super powered cat fight. Quite the entertaining read  though the naughty side of me would like an erotic sneak peek at what happened in the Cuban countryside.

Fred Noland’s Rent Boy story in which a trailer trash kid named Billy aspires to audition to become Glamazonia’s sidekick and leave his sordid life behind is two hoots worth of fun! His style is loose and animated and he does a great job of capturing the ambience of sad trailer park inhabitants. Dubbed Rent Boy, Billy is dedicated and a touch desperate in my opinion when he demonstrates to Glamazonia how resourceful he is with nunchakus. Glamazonia is shocked and it was a surprise for me too. Let’s say Rent Boy probably wouldn’t have a problem with the new body scanners at airports!

Rent Boy is featured in the following story by Diego Gomez in which Glamazonia is transported to an other wordly place to compete against other heroes in a contest for the “greatest prize”. Sure, she’s motivated and not happy at all that  “sidekick” Rent Boy is forced to compete with her after he helps her win a round. Gomez’s story is told in segments as a framing device around three secret origins for Glamazonia. Being so fabulous just one will not do! Actually, in the Gomez segments she recounts different stories hoping to seduce a trio of contestants. The framing idea works though they could stand on their own as well. The final segment with Glamazonia and Rent Boy facing Dungeon Master one is most successful while and the two with FLag Danzer and Granola Girl are the weakest for me. Gomez has done a lot of illustration work before and this is his first sequential story. His style easily stands out in the book as the most colorful and psychedelic and he doesn’t want to be constrained by panels, all of which can be good qualities. Here though, at least in a PDF file, I find it at times to be a little confusing and taking precedence over the characters. My opinion may change when I look at his art again after looking at the print copy when I pick it up from my store. Okay, I’ve looked at these segments on another computer and the colors are more harmonious than I first thought. Proof is in the print copy and appreciation of art always rests with the individual.

Added note: I’ve picked up my print copy with the rest of my comics  this afternoon, and apparently Glams’s appearance caused a bit of a commotion, as I heard one counter guy exclaim “Peaches Christ?!” in a whispered exclamation to the other.  I simply said “Yes, ‘Peaches Christ’ ” and smiled though I thought about adding “she’s Jesus time-lost tranny sister”. Anyway.  I’ve looked at the coloring throughout the whole book and every bit of coloring, including Gomez’s whose palette I wondered about.  Yes, he has a different color aesthetic (a quality I think for which Hall chose him), but here in the print copy it doesn’t overwhelm. So, here you go – proof a reviewer can change his or her mind.

All of Glamazonia’s origin stories are riffs on much beloved ones from comics: Superman, Batman, and Spider-Man. Hall’s version of Krypton populated solely with party girls is a fun twist, as is Clarkina’s relationship with strapping, bald Flex. A bat never inspires an orphan Bruce. Instead someone crashes through the window at the opulent manor. Young Peter Pumper being bitten by a radioactive tranny is the most hilarious for me. Another one is a take on the beloved Bionic Man and Woman shows. Her final origin using elements from Iron Man’s comic and movie beginnings is my second favorite with her Iron Tranny gear and her rigging the phallic ray gun to backfire, defeating her terrorists in a most fabulous fashion. All very good and your favorites may vary.

Jon Macy (Teleny and Camille, Fearful Hunter) turns in Rent Boy: Year One in a stylishly moody and pared down setting with a subdued color palette. Pity poor Rent Boy he discovers that the allure of sugar daddies often masks an evil heart.

Hall’s final story puts Glam as Brenda Starlet, the new reporter for a newspaper that’s a mashup between the Daily Planet and the Bugle. Here’s your chance to see how Lois, JJJ, Parker, and a sweaty, alien pervert together. Love the way Glams keeps her bouffant big and high, too!

I love little touches here and there. For example, the Glamazonia signal resembles a huge fleshlight. Here and there Hall incorporates vaginas. Oh, now don’t you get worked up over that! They’re not like the fanged vagina (I forget the high falutin’ Latin phrase) Howard Chaykin drew on a Hawkgirl cover several years ago. There are a few other flourishes scattered throughout, but finding them again is a bit of a challenge. The little lips symbol used to decorate the page numbers is a nice touch, as is the decision itself to use page numbers. It’s one of those little things that seems forgotten a lot these days.

If you’re a diehard Glamazonia fanatic you may notice that some of these stories have previously appeared in a small B & W mini comic made by Hall in the past year ortwo. Generally I question when this happens though the reasons can be very different when done by an indy creator compared to a big publisher. It isn’t an issue for me because these few stories are both expanded on and the fun quotient is higher, plus they’re printed in color now.

The “public service announcements” with Glamazonia dispensing her sex tips and tidbits of worldly wisdom are written by Hall and drawn by the remaining multitude of guest artists as listed below, with some of whom I’m not familiar with, so this is a good opportunity for a little taste of their various styles. Every PSA is amusing and kudos to Hall for sharing Glamazonia with so many artists in both these PSA’s and stories.

The following should be the full list of creators :

Anthony Gonzalez, zan Christensen, Sarah Oleksyk, MariNaomi, Craig Bostick, Jennifer Camper, Steve MacIsaac, Chuck McKinney, Sina Grace, Ed Luce, Shaenon K. Garrity, Paige Braddock, Christine Smith, Jason Thompson, Chino, Theo Bain, Eric Orner, Robert Kirby, Gina Kamentsky, Dave Davenport, Lark Pien.

I’m sorry if I missed any, but it’s almost like trying to pick out all the different bodies in an orgy scene.

You don’t have to be a diva devotee of Wonder Woman or Emma Frost to appreciate Glamazonia. Just love for wicked humor! Look for Glamazonia at your comic shop or go to Northwest Press for more info and also download a 30 page preview or to Glamazonia’s official site which has it, too!

This review was based on a complimentary PDF copy though I had already ordered the book in October (and cleared a spot in my cramped bookcases) through G-Mart, my local comic shop.

Addendum:

Cisgender. Trans ally. Entitled. Privileged. Ableist. CAFAB. CAMAB. FAAB. MAAB. These and other words and phrases were brought to the forefront for me recently when a person contacted me to express their dismay and anger regarding Glamazonia, the use of the word “tranny” in the title, and the positive review I gave the work. From this person’s point of view there was a choice of one of three options for me to do. One was to remove the review. Another was for me to give it a negative rating, and the last was to include a trigger warning.

Neither of these options were ones that I could act on. The first was censorship, which I don’t believe in. The second required that I lie about my opinion of Hall’s work. And I don’t believe in the use of trigger warnings. As an alternative, I offered the idea of this person writing an opinion piece in response to the character and Hall’s use of the word in question to which the review would link. I also offered, which I did, to make Hall aware of this person’s thoughts and comments. As best I can tell, my suggestion was ignored in the subsequent reply which also contained a link for Hall to a blog post in which the author discussed the hurt and damage of “cisgender intent”. As I passed that along to him I began to wonder if this was a situation in which I’d be stuck in the middle, which reminded me of the dysfunctional way my parents and family members have long communicated. In turn I informed this person that I couldn’t comply with any of their suggestions and their reply was to inform all the people they know of this.

Should I have engaged in emails more with this person? Perhaps. Should I have been less terse? Yes, though I believe no amount of word dress up would alter their opinion, which wasn’t a goal on my part. Do I believe for this person that the word in question creates or reminds of some traumatic experience? I do and I also know that to say hurting anyone was and is not my intent will be considered by this person and possibly you reading this now as an example of cisgender intent and privilege. I am sorry they were hurt, hurt by the word, by the meaning and ugliness and violence attached to it by meanspirited people in the cis world aimed at them and others.  And to clarify, my references to this person in gender/ name unspecific terms is not an attempt to dehumanize them. I simply do not know how they identify and present themselves.

Words and symbols which have horrible, painful meanings can be reclaimed, though the effort is not always successful. The pink triangle, part of a whole coding system for undesirables, was a symbol to mark homosexuals in Nazi Germany and occupied countries. It was taken back. There was a time when the word fag was used by some gay men to describe themselves. Howard Cruse put the word in his characters’ mouths in his Wendel comic strip in the 1980s. The word is widely considered to be a slur now and is off limits. Is a cisgendered person allowed to help reclaim this word from being a slur? The answer will depend on your point of view and perhaps the person, and in this instance, the work in question.

So this feels like a rock and a hard place situation in which, on one hand, I think Hall’s work is good and understand that he’s had interactions and relationships with variously self-identifying people in the San Francisco Trans community — two out trans creators contributed their work to this book — and alienating and hurting one person in particular and likely others. And even this smacks of ableism, entitlement, and cisgender intent.

Below is a verbatim copy of an afterward by Hall from his book. Would this have made any differnce to have originally included it my review?

“About the word ‘tranny…’

The word is a tricky one.

From the mouths of bigots and assholes, it’s undeniably a hate word. Even coming from well-meanin folk, it can be clumsy and insensitiv. And yet, as with the word ‘queer’,it’s been reclaimed by many as a term of empowerment and humor.

Where I come from, the queer underground of San Francisco, ‘tranny’ is used by everyone from trans women and trans men to third genders, cross-dressers, drag queens, drag kings, faux queens, and other gender queers and gender radicals. The Uncanny Super-Tranny is meant to stand alongside such creations as the Tranny Film Fest, Tranny Road Show, Tranny Fag Health Project and Trannyshack.

Glamazonia the Uncanny Super-Tranny is intended as a work of (at times sarcastic) humor, and ultimately a celebration of the compokex, wondeful, and fascinating mosiac of queer identities and expressions.”

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One Response to “Glamazonia The Uncanny Super Tranny”

  1. There is one important distinction between reclamation of heterosexist slurs and your belief that a superheroine parading every camp drag queen stereotype imaginable is a reclamation of cissexist attitudes:

    Who’s doing the reclaiming.

    I have seen cis people use the word in a way where I didn’t feel belittled or othered, but what they do, is, the word and the person who is subject to the word, isn’t the center of the fucking joke. They threw the word in because of it’s power in pointing out the sheer absurdity of the situation. And this guy is NO Patton Oswalt. Not even fucking close.