In August 2017, ComicMix launched their Kickstarter for Mine! A comics collection whose proceeds will go towards the nonprofit health services organization Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood provides health care, medical screenings, education, and resources for reproductive and sexual wellness. Mine! features contributions from Eisner-Award winners and nominees to independent creators and up-and-coming artists. The collection celebrates freedom, choice, and helps dispel myths and misconceptions about sex, gender and reproductive health.
I had the chance to preview Mine! earlier this month and after reading through each story I found myself rereading one in particular. ‘I am Home’ by Lilah Sturges and Sfé R. Monster is a short but poignant story about claiming yourself for your own. Sturges is perhaps best known for her Eisner-nominated work Jack of Fables (Vertigo), which she co-wrote with Bill Willingham from 2006-2011 and House of Mystery (DC Comics).
The people at ComicMix have graciously given us rights to republish Lilah’s work here in its entirety. You’ll find my interview with Lilah Sturges and how she came to work with Sfé R. Monster and Planned Parenthood immediately after.
‘I am Home’ by Lilah Sturges & Sfé R. Monster
Lilah Sturges on Creating ‘I am Home’
When I asked Lilah how she came to contribute to the anthology, she said she jumped at the chance to contribute to help shine a light on the important work Planned Parenthood does and because they are so “bafflingly mis-portrayed and maligned in the media.”
Ayres: “The story ‘I am home’ is such a beautiful vignette, I’d love to know more about its creation and working with Sfé Monster?”
Sturges: “Thank you! Sfé has this beautiful, clean style and I wanted to leverage that so I thought it would be good to do something like a fairy tale. And that suggested the notion of a young girl trapped in a castle, and that suggested the rest of it. I wrote it first without the captions at first but it felt like it was lacking something and so I started free associating what I wanted to say and I guess that’s why the captions have that meditative quality to them.”
Ayres: “‘I am home’ is filled with these poignant statements that seem at once obvious and yet so necessary to repeat, to validate for ourselves and others…
Obvious in the sense that of course I am mine, how could I forget that? How could I let X let me forget or question that (x could be anything here, a person, society, governmental organizations or politicians, etc.) I think it’s easy for us to forget that we are our own, even though it seems like something we should implicitly know.
One part that stuck out in particular for me was the line: “My body is where I live and I’m the one that has to live there. I am mine. Nobody owns me but myself.” It’s such a vital message, if you have any additional thoughts or words about how you centered on the refrain ‘I am mine’ I’d love to hear them.”
Sturges: “It was really important to me to draw the line between the important work that Planned Parenthood does to promote reproductive autonomy for those with uteruses and the kind of body autonomy that is so important to trans people. To me, the central concept is that we are the owners of our bodies and we have the right to do with them what we need to do. Sometimes you hear people opining that trans women don’t care about reproductive rights, and that’s absurd. Not only do most trans people recognize the importance of choice in the sense of access to abortion, but in a larger sense we are extremely focused on the importance of being able to control what happens to our bodies. For a very long time, trans people weren’t able to get access to medical transition on their own terms and it’s not hard to see the parallels. So that’s what “I am mine” means to me and why it’s the central refrain of the story.”
Ayres: “Okay, forgive me for creeping your Twitter but I saw that you are playing Dragon Age: Inquisition and as someone who sunk about 120+ hours into it, I would love to know your thoughts so far…”
Sturges: “I haven’t done much yet, but a really cute gal turned me on to it and so I’ve been giving it a shot. I like the idea that I can be gay in it and that’s my primary buy-in. All I’m doing now is killing people and closing green demon rifts and I’m like, “Let’s get to the lesbian romance already!” I’m starting Stardew Valley now for basically the same reason. Why didn’t anyone tell me you could be queer in video games now?”
Ayres: “What does your 2018 hold, anything you are looking forward to in particular?”
Sturges: “I have two big projects already planned but they’re in that stage where I’m not allowed to discuss them yet. I also have a project that I’m working on with artist Cait Zellers that’s sort of a queer girl heist story set in a fantasy world. That should hit Kickstarter sometime in the near future, so keep an eye out for it! My primary goal in 2018 is to create as much queer and trans representation in media as humanly possible, and I think I’m off to a pretty good start!”