Webcomic Weekly: The Powerful, Emotive Works Of L. Nichols

by Richard Bruton

Webcomic Weekly, giving you a dose of webcomic medicine every week. This week, the personal and emotive comics of L. Nichols.

L. Nichols – Skin – the brilliance of deliberately placing ‘Gender’ outside the panel.

You can find his comics at his Substack site, just a few there, but anyone who’s experienced any of his work will find them familiar, if more vulnerable and personal than previous work.

For example, Skin, L.’s latest (when I was writing this anyway), a real moment of bravery and honesty dealing with body issues.

L. describes it as ‘this is the comic that has been toughest for me emotionally to write. I thought that it might be good to actually talk about these things? A way of exorcising my feelings about my body a bit? [full disclosure, I ended up crying multiple times while making this]’

And it shows, it really does.

L. Nichols – Skin

The openness of the content is all matched by the openness of L.’s line work, simple, expressive, brutally truthful, moving away from L.’s usual shorthand of portraying himself as some sort of rag doll.

It’s continued through the other short, powerful works here; It’s Been A Long Year, L.’s reflections on the Covid year; Fragmented, where L. opens up about childhood sexual abuse; or A Complicated Goodbye, L’s comic about ‘losing my mother last year (surprisingly, not to covid), and about the very mixed feelings I have about it’ – not a surprise to anyone who’s read Flocks.

L. Nichols – It’s Been A Long Year

L.’s works here are vulnerable, honest, brutally so, but are incredibly powerful because of that. These are incredibly difficult things to discuss, indeed the sexual abuse is something L. had never talked about, not to his wife or his therapist, but the fact L. does is incredible.

L. describes himself as ‘L Nichols. Artist. Engineer. Designer. Hiker. 🏳️‍🌈 🏳️‍⚧️ (he/him, they/them) // I wrote & drew FLOCKS, a graphic memoir about growing up queer/trans in Louisiana.’ Nichols lives, and works as an illustrator, comic artist, graphic designer, educator and sometime blacksmith, with his wife and their two children in New York

Flocks, Nichols’s debut graphic novel, is the memoir of a difficult childhood in a conservative Christian family and community in rural Louisiana, his college years, and the queer world he surrounds himself with in his adult life. As a trans man, assigned female at birth, the memoir deals with the confusion Nichols felt around his sexuality, compounded by his religious childhood. It’s a raw, honest, empathetic book and well worth your time.

L. Nichols – A Complicated Goodbye

Flocks was serialized by Retrofit, with a collection published by Secret Acres in 2018.

Nichols’ work has appeared in the Atlantic, Verve Magazine, SMITH, the Nib, and The Village Voice, as well as the anthologies QU33R (from Northwest Press) and Warmer: A Collection of Comics about Climate Change for the Fearful & Hopeful. He is also the co-publisher of the award-winning comics quarterly, Ley Lines, with Czap Books.

You can find the comics I’ve been talking about at his Substack site, Comics, Drawings, and other art from L..

Finally, a couple of bits from Flocks:


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