When I was younger, I loved comic books. Specifically, I loved the X-men, because I could identify with them. They were outsiders (check!), they had to be afraid that people would find out what they truly were (check!), and no matter how hard they tried, they would always be mutants, and different from everyone else (check!).
Eventually, X-men led me to other comics, and that included Alpha Flight (because they were Canadian, even if they were sort of sad compared to the X-men). And Northstar came out. It was over-the-top and melodramatic (but it was a comic book, so that was fine) and I was stunned. A gay superhero? Was that even allowed?
Over the years, of course, Marvel (and to a much lesser degree, DC) have thickened the ranks of the queer superhero lineup, and graphic novels have become far more pervasive - and that's a good thing. I've read some phenomenal graphic novels over the years, and some of them include gay characters. Things change. They mutate, as it were.
And the world still hates and fears them...
"Artifice," by Alex Woolfson
Is it fair to do a Short Story 365 entry about a graphic novel? Well, here's the thing. It's my blog, and at 112 pages or so, Artifice is complex, well-written, and engaging from the get-go. Text-wise? It's somewhere between a short story and a novella, I'd say. The set-up is this: an artificial construct (in the form of a handsome young man, naturally) has reported back from a mission where things went incredibly south from the actual goal, and he made decisions that seem to be contrary to all programming and rules of the corporation who is debriefing him. His refusal to obey orders Because of a young man he met at the mission site.
That this fellow is gay is only part of the tale. The society in which this story takes place is not a good one - the "gay gene" has been isolated (and for the most part removed) and the glimpse of how ruthless this corporation seems to be, and how free they are to be so callous, is a sign of how far things have progressed in a dark direction. Why this artificial construct acted the way it did - and the ultimate resolution of what every step was - and is - is deeply satisfying. I loved this one.
(Oh, and I'm also going to point out that for the gay superhero lover in me, Woolfson also has another webcomic series going - "The Young Protectors" while I will likely discuss on a later date, about a group of young superheroes, one of which is gay.)