The It Gets Better Project Marks Fifth Year Collaborating with OTIS College of Art and Design
Youth Voices ambassadors inspire “Comic Heroes” class, elevating LGBTQ+ stories through the medium of comic books and superheroes.
January 25, 2022 — The It Gets Better Project is entering its fifth year of collaboration with the OTIS College of Art and Design’s Comic Heroes class. The class was started 13 years ago as part of the Creative Action program by the late Candace Lavin in an effort to elevate unheard stories through the medium of comic books and superheroes.
Since 2018, the It Gets Better Project has worked with OTIS College’s Comic Heroes class to create comic series around the LGBTQ+ experience — coming out, characters who fought against discrimination or identified in ways that differed from the norm in the worlds they portrayed have been common themes in these projects. Beginning with the Fall, 2021 semester and continuing into 2022, students from the Comic Heroes class are working with the It Gets Better Project’s Youth Voices ambassadors, LGBTQ+ middle and high-school students who are inspiring the stories in their comics. Select comics from the Fall, 2021 semester can be viewed now at itgetsbetter.org.
Lavin passed away in December of 2019 at the end of the fall semester. Since then, the course has been taught by Lynly Forrest, Lisa K. Weber, and Kelly Sue Milano, the trio that runs HexComix, an independent comic book label that aims to showcase non-traditional voices. The three had been mentors to Lavin’s class and stepped in after Lavin’s passing.
“The class’s main purpose is to educate young artists about comic book creation, the world of comic books and the impact that the story format can have on the world around us,” says Forrest. “There has been an emphasis on telling stories that didn’t make a person’s gender or sexual identity the point, because it’s like showing them as something different or separate. Why can’t this person be trans and just be living their life? This way the people who are consuming this content can just see themselves as normal instead of as something other or an outside thing or a separate thing.”
It has been a natural collaboration for an organization like the It Gets Better Project, which uses storytelling and media as tools to uplift, inspire and connect LGBTQ+ youth.
“Stories are supposed to reflect our lives, but too often, stories follow a narrative that only reflects the experiences of a select few,” It Gets Better Project Education Coordinator Rae Sweet explained. “Our Youth Voices have been ecstatic to see their lives and experiences reflected in comic book form, and the It Gets Better Project is looking forward to working with OTIS and the Comic Heroes class for many semesters to come.”