Tag Archives: all the X-Men are queer as hell

The last New Mutants post!

Rahne and Danielle together at last art by Danilo Beyruth and Suzanne Forbes working as Rachel Ketchum April 21, I opened the last, hardest box of old sketchbooks.

I found wondrous things. Love letters to my late beloved Rob Sawyer, even more New Mutants slash art of Rahne and Dani, a sketch of my friend Chris Claremont made in fall 1986. I even found the first portraits I ever drew, coming soon.

I have been archiving my 80s and 90s art since April 2019.

Self-portraits from the ’80s! The archiving project was very hard. So hard it dragged to a halt by mid-2020. I have only barely resurrected it the last couple months.

Chris Claremont by Suzanne Forbes working as Rachel Ketchum probably Fall 1986I had no idea I’d drawn Chris!

I don’t remember drawing this, but based on the sketchbook it was I’m estimating it was drawn in the Fall of ’86. Chris Claremont was a great comfort to me in the terrible Fall of 1986.

Danielle Moonstar by Suzanne Forbes working as Rachel Ketchum circa 1985 and 1986More drawings of Dani, from ’85 and ’86.

I was working so hard to draw the New Mutants as individuals, especially Rahne and Dani. Trying to give them distinct bodies, faces and characters, as co-creator Bob McLeod and defining artist Bill Sienkiewicz had.

Rahne and Dani 80s fashions by Suzanne Forbes working as Rachel Ketchum probably 1985And of course ’80s fashion!

Wow, ’80s fashion. It wasn’t all bad.

Danielle and Rahne by Suzanne Forbes working as Rachel Ketchum circa 1985 and 1986At the same time, I was trying to learn to draw superheroes!

I had to learn the standards and aesthetic of comics, and so much technical stuff. Perspective! I have so much respect for the young woman I was and how hard I worked for my dream.

Rahne Shan and Illyana by Suzanne Forbes working as Rachel Ketchum circa 1985 and 1986Learning to draw expressions! And movement!

1985 was a long, long year of my life. I was at Parsons, in the Illustration Program, and also studying preferred anatomy texts of comic artists all the time. And I was a junkie, on weekends.

Rahne Dani slash 1985 by Suzanne Forbes working as Rachel KetchumThe New Mutants, the X-Men and the Teen Titans kept me going.

I was really, really depressed and profoundly traumatized, but also so goddam determined. All I cared about were comics, my friends, and getting high on the weekends.

And then my favorite character Danielle was attacked and threatened with sexual assault, in New Mutants 35!

Jesus! I was so angry, I wrote this letter to Chris in one of my sketchbooks. I was gonna send it to the New Mutants’ letter column. Ultimately, as I got drunker that night, I sent a telegram instead! I occasionally sent drunk telegrams, in the ’80s.

Finding this letter as a midlife, long-healing queer, I love that angry girl.

Although I am saddened at how ignorant I was. Today I know that American families who have a Native American great-grandmother are families who participated in harm, not “part American Indian”. I also didn’t know the term “survivor” back then, or identify as one yet.

I was really worried that there was gonna be a Dark Mirage storyline!

I’m sure there has been, by now! But there wasn’t, then. And oddly enough, I wound up finding a lot to like about the man who wrote the story, despite his long history of writing bad things happening to women. In 1986 I met Chris Claremont, and got together with Rob.

Joy seemed to burst through the carapace of struggle, for a time.

The passion I felt for comics and the career ahead conjoined with love and hope. I went to San Diego Comic Con on a cloud of youth, ambition and drugs. And then tragedy, trauma, all the things that happened in New York in the ’80s to junkies and queers, and descent into deep addiction.

So that when I finally broke into comics in ’93, I wound up working for DC, on Star Trek, and never did get to draw teenage superheroes.

It’s OK.

New Mutants 2022 issue 24 written by Vita Ayala Danilo Beyruth Artist Dan Brown color artist Rahne and Dani together pageThere is a new generation of amazing people working in comics.

I almost never buy comics, but when there’s buzz about a New Mutants arc, I perk up my ears. Vita Ayala, a trans non-binary Afro-Puerto-Rican writer from NYC, has been doing fantastic New Mutants work. (Their twitter is here, website here!)

I saw the panel above shared online a couple months ago and ordered the issue (plus Ayala’s other NM work), but it only arrived in Berlin today.

New Mutants 2022 issue 24 written by Vita Ayala Danilo Beyruth Artist Dan Brown color artist Rahne and Dani together panelThat’s ok, today is soon enough to see this joy, this miracle.

A whole New Mutants comic about queer community, restorative justice, personal and community accountability, healing trauma, and women kissing women! The beautiful art is by Danilo Beyruth as Artist and Dan Brown as color artist. Dani and Rahne share a beautiful scene of honesty and connection and intimacy.

New Mutants 2022 issue 24 written by Vita Ayala Danilo Beyruth Artist Dan Brown color IllyanaWhat an incredible experience, to see it all said out loud.

Well, written out loud, anyway! At last, at last! Illyana speaks on rage and trauma, telling your own story, and the most important things, connection and community. Xi’an gets together with a woman character I learned is Galura, a Filipina mutant who’s also canonically a lesbian!

New Mutants 2022 issue 24 written by Vita Ayala Danilo Beyruth Artist Dan Brown color artist community justiceXi’an, Galura, Dani and Rahne confront a long-term agent of harm with tenets of restorative justice.

Rahne chooses to give forgiveness and Xi’an chooses not to. Plus the Proudstar brothers hug! Both Dani and Ororo express personal accountability and the intent to do better, and Ororo speaks about community accountability as well. What a wonderful voyage into the present and future of comics. So grateful to Vita Ayala for the work they’re doing!

Everything I hoped for as a young woman who loved these characters and this medium, and more. Can’t wait to see the next issue, and so glad I’m done opening boxes.

Rahne-and-Dani-slash-by-Rachel-Ketchum-circa1985More New Mutants stuff:

New Mutants Movie lesbian love story fan art!

My Rahne and Dani lovebird custom Marvel Legends action figures

Douglock action figures

Rahne and Dani slash art from the 80’s

The love story of me, P, the New Mutants, and Chris (trigger warning for really a lot of bad stuff)

Christopher Street Day ice cream party with gay X-Men!

How the New Mutants film re-connected me with my queerness

A New York City subway station and subway under a dollhouse in Berlin, with superheroes.

These ’80s drawings had never been photographed; until now, no record of them existed – if we had a fire or flood they would just be gone forever.

I am so grateful to my Patrons on Patreon, whose monthly financial support makes it possible for me to take time to document my art archives.


More custom gay mutant action figures for Pride: Douglock!

Custom-Doug-Ramsey-Cypher-action-figure-by-Suzanne-Forbes-June-2019From the beginning it was clear that teen mutant Doug Ramsey and Warlock, a techno-organic being who was identified as “he” upon arrival on Earth, were in love.

Art from New Mutants #21 by Bill Sienkiewicz and Glynis Wein, one of the most charming scenes from a charmed run.

You don’t call just anybody your “selfsoulfriend”. Doug Ramsey, aka Cypher, was the local computer nerd – until he met an alien teen robot who lived on lifeglow and they were suddenly thisclose and loving it.

One of the most wonderful things about the X-Men and New Mutants for me as a queer kinky teen in the 80s was how casually gay and freaky everybody was.

Custom Doug Ramsey Cypher action figure in X Men dollhouse by Suzanne Forbes June 2019Sure, it’s totally ok to be in a deep psychically linked relationship with your (assigned as) same-sex team-mate, even if they’re sort of a robot and from outer space! Or a werewolf!

It’s all good, and safe, inside the X-Mansion.

Custom Doug Ramsey Cypher action figure by Suzanne Forbes June 2019The safe harbor that those 80s stories represented for queer teens reverberates forward through time, to the young people who continue to discover them.

I myself was extraordinarily blessed to live with a mother whose radical acceptance of me and my freaky friends created an IRL safe harbor.

I was blessed enough, in the 80s, to have a mom who would take me and my girlfriend to brunch.

But most queer teens didn’t have that in the 80s, and so many still don’t have it today.

Especially for trans kids, Warlock’s total control of his physical form is an exhilarating notion. His gender was clearly only assigned as male because of the limited thinking of the era; to today’s non-binary kids it’s obvious ‘Lock is a they. In the age of tumblr (RIP) and AO3, Doug and Warlock as lovers are an arena of profoundly creative and experimental sexual ideation.

I wanted to honor those young people who love these characters by the way Doug and ‘Lock are represented in my X-Men dollhouse. And also gently acknowledge what a funny, square little geek Doug was in the ’80s. He had a wholesome quality that really flared against the teleological darkness of characters like Illyana. And his hair was SO 80s!

Spidey in civvies action figure custom by Jacobs Toys

I had been saving a variety of boy heads for Doug as long as I’d been saving the heads for Rahne, Dani and Sam – nearly twenty years. Trying to find a really young-looking teen face.

But then just recently I saw a custom by Jacob’s Toys on Instagram that totally inspired me.

He’d used a Tom Holland Spider-Man head and a Lex Luthor body to create a Peter Parker in civilian clothes.

The recipe, as action figure customizers call it, was perfect for my version of Doug. (‘Lock, a Build-A-Figure released last year, was already perfect).

Doug should be in civvies, of course – his uselessness in the field was legend. I don’t know why they ever gave him a uniform!

And Tom Holland’s face has exactly, exactly the boyish handsomeness of Michael J. Fox and Matthew Broderick in the 80s. He sells the wide-eyed mischief and wonder of a teen with super-powers in the most incredible way. (I loved Homecoming! Gonna go see the next one next week!)

Painting New Mutants action figure customs in progress by Suzanne Forbes March 2019So I sculpted Doug’s swoopy flipped hair and popped polo shirt collar out of my preferred brand of epoxy clay, Aves’ Apoxie Sculpt, painted his hair, brows, and shirt, and called it a day!

Well, actually I also filled in the peg-holes on the bottom of his shoes and gave them sneaker texture, also with Apoxie Sculpt, because he’d be sitting crosslegged and I am slightly a perfectionist 🙂 And I also covered hair and shirt with Matte Mod Podge and then sprayed them with Matte Acrylic Sealer, as I learned on this excellent customizing site, to protect the paint.

I hope this sweet pair of lovebirds pleases the folx who love Doug and Warlock, and love their queer, trans, geek-robot love.