Tony Breed, a Chicago-based artist and writer who has been making comics which he publishes online since 2006, is also active in making sure the work of LGBT comic artists is amplified across the country.
Breed has been a fan of comics for most of his life. "My earliest memories of reading comics would be from the Disney comics I'd read when I was a little kid," he said. "I used to read a lot of Donald Duck and Scrooge McDuck comics, and then when I was in the 4th grade, I was really into reading Tintin and I tried getting my hands on as many of those comics as I could."
Breed was inspired by some of the comics he read in the funny papers. "I wanted to make comics like Peanuts when I was eight or nine," he said, and started around age 11. But he didn't start to make comics professionally until he was in his 30s.
In 2006, Breed launched his web comic, Finn and Charlie Are Hitched, which told the stories of married couple Finn and Charlie, their friends and their day-to-day life adventures.
Finn and Charlie initially "were both essentially stand-ins for me and my husband," he said, "but later they took on lives of their own."
In the early parts of the series, Finn and Charlie's stories were very much like his own real-life stories, but fictionalized. "There's one story where Charlie sits next to a complete stranger on a plane who ends up randomly telling Charlie about his sex life, and this was something that had actually happened to me in real life," Breed said.
The comic ran as a web comic from April 2006 until December 2013, and the series has been collected into four volumes that have been physically published in collected editions. In 2011, the series was nominated for an Ignatz Award for Outstanding Online Comic, and Breed received a nomination for Promising New Talent.
When Finn and Charlie Are Hitched ended in December 2013, Breed began his next comic, Muddlers Beat, which is still ongoing. It contains Finn and Charlie, but now focuses on them as part of a group of friends. "I felt like I ran out of ideas with just Finn and Charlie, and I wanted to do a series that didn't just mainly focus on them," Breed said.
With Muddlers Beat and his first ever long-form minicomic called That Night, Breed said making comics has become a way for him to process life, including processing tragic events, including the passing of his husband in December 2015 and the death of his cat.
On writing as a way to process the passing of his husband, Breed said, "I just wanted to write what was on my mind. I wrote it for myself, but also for others who've had a similar experience to my own, and to those who've never experienced a situation like that."
Breed has been running his own tables at comic conventions since 2009, and has attended numerous conventions over the years, including Flame Con, which is billed as the largest LGBT comic convention in the world. Breed has been a part of a number of panels for the non-profit organization, Geeks Out, which seeks to rally, promote and empower the queer geek community.
Breed spoke very highly of his convention experiences and of getting to meet fellow LGBT comic creators. "It's great to learn about people's stories and for creators to connect and do panels together," he said. "It's just a great way to bring people together, and for creators to network." Breed added that many LGBT comic creators want to tell more stories that are positive, stating that for many years, there were too many LGBT storiesespecially in moviesthat were very dark.
"In the '70s, '80s and '90s, LGBT movies were too dark, and focused too much on individuals who are LGBT committing suicide, and while it is true that the suicide rate for people who are LGBT is higher than the rate for people who aren't LGBT, a lot of creators now want to go against that and tell more positive stories about our lives."
See www.tonybreed.com/tony/comics.html .