Thursday, January 3, 2019

Neighbors by SturkWurk & Femur (comics transgender lesbian)

I am delighted to introduce a new name to our weekly showcase of illustrated delights, SturkWurk, who is best known for his work at TGComics.

Neighbors is an interesting (and wonderfully exciting) comic from SturkWurk and Femur, one that skips the usual forced feminization and sci-fi genderswap themes to, instead, explore an entirely willing transsexual transition. An erotic romance of self-exploration and discovery, it is surprisingly complex in how it handles gender issues.

Steve Blazek is a married man who has been experiencing gender issues for much of his life. When we first meet him, his wife is trying to entice him into bed, but he is more excited about the silk floral brocade of her lingerie than the idea of sex. When she tearfully asks where he still wants her, he awkwardly confesses that the problem is not her, it is that he does not like himself. It is a sentiment with which many readers will identify, and the fight that follows - about his "gender stuff" - is likely to be painfully familiar. It is a harsh way to open a story, but I love that it explores the issue so tastefully and tactfully.

Where the story veers a little bit into sci-fi territory is with Chromaswap, a prescription drug that can facilitate a complete gender change in just 28 days. Transition without surgery is a nice fantasy, and it enables Steve to continue living his life while his body changes, but the (comparatively) slow progression means we get to see him experience many of the familiar doubts, fears, and gender dysphoria of a more traditional transition. Mentally and emotionally, the comic is really well done, and visually it is absolutely stunning. The changes from Steve to Veronika are subtle, so much so that you do not really notice much from one page to another. There are definite ah-ha moments, but the transition feels genuine. I love how it is captured. We see the changes in body shape, hairstyle, and facial structure, and we get to see the first experiments with feminine clothing, but even more exciting are the small changes in mannerisms, which are illustrated perfectly.

For those readers worried about where the erotic aspects come in, the story introduces the complication of a beautiful new neighbor who is rather vocal about her sexual exploits. I love that she is introduced as a supportive friend who takes the new girl under her wing, helping Veronika find herself, while never imagining that the new girl could ever be interested in someone like her. It is not a huge part of the story, but it was nice to see the insecurities of a cisgender woman explored alongside those of a transsexual woman. Her behavior drives the new Veronika's fantasies, enabling some wonderful moments of masturbatory self-exploration, introducing her first sexual adventurism, and (eventually) exploring the promise of romance.

The whole comic is beautifully illustrated, with multiple settings, a wide variety of characters, different lighting effects, and some nice sound effects to accompany the dialogue. Neighbors is, I must say, one of the best comics I have come across in a very long time, an illustrated fantasy that is not just relatable, but almost attainable.

Douglas Sturk (SturkWurk) is a writer and illustrator. He creates web comics for and, and can be hired for commission work.

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