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Happy Holidays!!

Sparkler Monthly Issue #041 (December 2016)Whew! Thank you, Sparkler fans, for your enthusiastic support of the Orange Junk Kickstarter, which wrapped up yesterday after meeting its goal! Hooray!! We literally couldn’t have done it without all your likes and reblogs and offers of pole-dancing fanart, and we’re ever so grateful. :-D

It’s been an exciting year here at the Sparkler offices (in all their various locations), and while I’m looking forward to saying “good riddance” to 2016 as a whole, I couldn’t be more proud of the work our amazing creators have put forth, the passion and excitement of our fans, and the many hours our staff members have given to bringing fun, emotional (and sometimes sexy!) Female Gaze content to readers and listeners worldwide. It’s a joy and a privilege to be doing what we do, and your comments, emails, and shares help keep us all motivated. We hope that the stories our creators lovingly produce bring you just as much joy!

For our final issue of the 2016 calendar year, we’ve got some terrific things lined up: the conclusion of Volume 2 of Windrose (cliffhanger, yikes!!), the start of a new chapter of Knights-Errant (backstory?!), horrifying ghost eyeballs in Dead Endings, the next literally explosive installment of Decoy and Retrofit from Always Raining Here guest stars Bell and Hazel, and squeal-worthy romantic progress in Orange JunkAnd for our podcast this month, we have /report host MK (Moonklutz) join us to discuss the Internet’s understandable obsession this winter: the figure-skating anime Yuri on Ice.

What will 2017 bring? We hope to continue to provide the best and brightest in comics, light novels, and audio dramas…and maybe more video games for our fans across the globe! (Which reminds me – those of you who pitched in our last Open Submissions period, our first round of replies has been delayed a bit, but you should receive a response in the next few weeks. Thank you for your patience as we enjoy your submissions!)

XOXO,

Lillian Diaz-Przybyl (comics editor)



Year 4!! Video games, submissions, and finales, oh my!

Sparkler Monthly Issue #037 (August 2016, start of Year 4)Hello, Sparkler Fans!

Thanks to all your reblogs, sharing, and support, we’re primed and ready for a killer Year 4 of Sparkler Monthly! Woo hoo! On the docket we’ve got video games, new audio dramas, new series, more of the great content you’ve come to expect from us…and…we’re opening submissions again! The biggest debut of Year 4 could be YOU!

To celebrate the success of our Year 4 Kickstarter, we’re thrilled to announce that this first issue of the year…is ABSOLUTELY FREE TO DOWNLOAD! Free readers, lurkers, newbies, friends you’ve been pushing to try Sparkler – everyone can get their copy without paying a dime to see the sort of monthly delights we offer our members. And what an issue it is…

Out of Sync keychain by Romy-chan!

Issue #037 includes our very first video game with dev team Paper Star StudiosOut of Sync is a BL visual novel about two J-pop idols (in separate boy bands) who reconnect after being separated by the industry, and boy, does it get hot. So hot, in fact, that we have a “complete” version in our Cherry Bomb line that includes extended versions of the two fade-to-black love scenes, for you older fans who want to see everything. :) Also included in this issue is an exclusive 50-page booklet to go with the game, which includes Out of Sync game art, a preview of the script, and bonus art and pin-ups by head artist Cap o’Rushes! We even released a super cute keychain by team artist Romy-chan as part of this launch!

Also in this issue: the series finale of Tokyo Demons after 5+ years of serialization (get the tissues), a scream-worthy new chapter of Windrose with more shocking romantic developments, and a heartfelt chapter of Orange Junk that reveals something…that a lot of you have been hoping for more of in the pages of Sparkler. :D And our podcast of the month is with Eurika Yusin Gho, the hilarious creator of Magical How? who sits with her Sparkler editors and discusses boys in skirts and the future of the series!

Yaoicon 2016, woo!In addition, Sparkler will have a Dealer’s Booth at Yaoicon in a few weeks, and it looks like our three department heads–Lillian (comics), Lianne (prose), and Rebecca (audio)–will all be there, along with sparly piles of Sparkler books and merch. Come see us. :D

Since Year 4 has some open slots in the magazine, open submissions will start again in September (for the first time in almost 2 years), so prep your ideas! We’ll be releasing updated guidelines in the next week or two, so be sure to follow us on social media (Twitter, Tumblr, and/or Facebook) for the newest info. You’ve got until the end of September to send us your short story, comics series, and short prose pitches.

Onward and upward!

-The Sparkler Team



Happy LGBT History/Pride Month!

Sparkler Monthly Issue #035 (June 2016)Hello, Sparkler fans!

This was totally coincidental, since every month at Sparkler is at least a little bit queer, but I’m super happy that our cover for June (also known as LGBT History Month and/or Pride Month) is the two amazing women from Windrose sharing a romantic moment. Thanks for providing us with this glorious (and very timely) illustration, Studio Kosen! It was no contest in choosing what was going to get our cover spot this time around. The rest of the chapter is fabulous, too, with angsty backstory, hurt-comfort, and present-day shenanigans, so we hope you all enjoy it as much as we did!

What else is on the table for this month’s issue? A horrifying and beautiful Knights-Errant bonus story (funded by the Kickstarter!) about Anton and Beppe, the final(!) fight in Tokyo Demons, awkward and awful confessions in Orange Junk, and a little coffee klatch with the new team of short-skirted and stylish magicals in Magical How! (But seriously, we need to put, like, a zillion trigger warnings on that Knights-Errant story… If only it didn’t hurt so good!)

In addition, you get a new podcast episode in which our editorial team talks about our plans for Year 4 of the magazine – and its upcoming Kickstarter. Sparkler defines itself as being a “female gaze” publication, which I feel we, the founders, often translate pretty directly into “stuff we like and want to publish” since we’re also the target audience. :-D But regardless, I take a lot of pride in having a diversity of stories in our line-up, featuring not just characters of a variety of ethnicities and backgrounds, but a variety of gender expressions and sexual orientations as well. And I’m proud that our audience has always responded not just positively, but enthusiastically to the full spectrum of stories that we present.

As we close Year 3 and look forward to Year 4, that’s a goal of ours that I’m eager to continue, and maybe even expand! Details on that will be rolling out over the next few weeks with our Year 4 Kickstarter, so stay tuned… But in the meantime, have fun with the new issue!

XOXO

-Lillian (comics editor)



March Madness!

Sparkler Monthly Issue #032 (March 2016)Hello hello!

It’s almost spring, and things are coming up roses here at Sparkler Headquarters. This month we’ve got a glorious new chapter of KaiJu’s historical masterpiece “Inhabitant of Another Planet,” a thrilling costume-and-intrigue addition to Windrose, the hilarious second chapter of a new school-club arc in Orange Junk, crazy timeline espionage in Tokyo Demons, plus an oblivious confession and a surprise sibling in Witch’s Quarry!

To top it off, we’ve got a new podcast this month featuring Jennifer Doyle (Knights-Errant), Lianne Sentar (Tokyo Demons), and me talking about why we love characters suffering in fiction, and our favorite stories that excel at it! Also featuring delightful teasers for future Knights-Errant and Tokyo Demons/Ghosts chapters. Just to get this out there, Doyle is a phenomenal person to do podcasts with, and what should have been an hour-long conversation ran nearly 3 hours. I don’t even know what the reasonable edit came out to be, but y’all definitely don’t want to miss this one.

But why Jennifer Doyle in particular for this podcast, aside from the fact that Knights-Errant is pretty demonstrably about making characters suffer for the greater good/i.e. reader entertainment & high-pitched shrieks? Well, we’ve got some good news about that series later this month, so just stay tuned! ;-)

Sparkler Memberships discounted for March!
The other madness of March is the resurgence of our ongoing Membership Drive! We’ve been letting it quietly simmer for a while, but it’s time to bring it back to the forefront–our goal has always been to make this magazine self-sustaining, and while we do get some revenue from site ads and books/merchandise, your membership dollars are the bulk of our income, and thus a significant pillar of our overall stability. If you like what we do here and want to see it continue…or even expand, your support is crucial to the process!

If you’ve been considering signing up for a membership, this is a great time to do so: since we’re discounting our memberships up to 20% off for the month of March! And in exchange, you’ll not only receive the satisfaction of supporting (paid) independent artists and creators, but you’ll get your pages much earlier than the free readers, downloadable issues, and bonus content.

Help us sow the seeds for the future by making a monthly contribution, and we’ll reward you with awesome comics, prose, and audio for years to come.

<3 <3 <3

-Lillian Diaz-Przybyl (comics editor)



All Comics, all the Time!

Sparkler Monthly: Issue #029Happy Holidays, loyal readers, whichever winter-solstice-timed ones you may be celebrating. :-) Our present for you this month is an issue entirely jam-packed with exciting new comics content–our first all-comics issue ever! Starting with the conclusion of the Christmas arc in Orange Junk, we also have a thrilling new chapter of Windrose, adorable updates in Magical How?, supreme awkwardness in Knights-Errant, and the beginning of Veolynn’s backstory in Witch’s Quarryafter YOU voted for her in the reader’s choice poll! Our Sparkler Podcast of the month features two of our lovely prose authors discussing their work: Ellery Prime of Gauntlet and Jenn Grunigen of Skyglass. There’s a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff in there for both fans and aspiring writers, so check it out!

For those who may have missed the first round, this month we started a (hopefully) regular Sparkler RPG campaign, using an original tabletop RPG system created by the talented Rebecca, GM’ed by Lianne, and featuring Jen Lee Quick, Rebecca, and me as students at a university for people with psychic powers. Expect many shenanigans, and probably a lot of smooching and crying, if Lianne’s past campaigns are anything to go by. You can watch/listen to our character creation session here: http://sparklermonthly.com/sparkler-rpg/ And the next installment (the start of the story) will be streamed live on Saturday, December 12th, at 7:30 PM EST! Join us and contribute to the game through the chatroom!

In the spirit of the holidays, we also have a bunch of new print and ebooks for you all to enjoy…and maybe share with your loved ones! If you like what we do here at Sparkler, the best way to keep us going is to pick up some of our paperbacks (Dusk in Kalevia and Dead Endings are now in stock!!), check out our ebooks on Comixology or in our own shop, or even get some merch like our adorable keychains, so you can have Wil and Oz fight each other on your backpack.

So to further our capitalistic gains, we’re doing a 10% discount in our shop through the end of December with the coupon code HOLIDAY. Time is flying, and you don’t want to miss out!

What’s on the agenda for 2016? You’ll just have to wait and see, but I’m personally very excited for January already, since we’ll have an exciting new short comic series from the fabulous KaiJu, plus the launch of the second volume of Dead Endings, one of our premiere prose series! Have a wonderful close to 2015 in the meantime.

-Lillian, comics editor



Sparkler Shop Sale: use coupon code HOLIDAY

Use coupon code HOLIDAY to save!

Use the coupon code HOLIDAY in the Sparkler Shop to get a discount on ALL purchases in your cart, including Distro titles and Gift Memberships (you can buy for yourself)! Free USA shipping on orders $60 and above!

If used between now and Monday, Nov 30th: 15% off!

If used between Dec 1st and Dec 31st: 10% off!

Brand-new products!

kaleviaebook_button kaleviapaperback_button  TJandAmal_button  gatesmith_button  sparkler_art_prints  Year1_button

Recent and restocked!

ke_keychains_buttonwindrose_button  deadendings_button  tddaki_button    lettera_button



Yaoicon, Lettera, and the TDdaki!

Tokyo Demons dakimakura: SachiFor those of you coming to YaoiCon this weekend, come see the Sparkler table run by comics editor Lillian! She’ll have a ton of our paperbacks (including all three volumes of Off*Beat), free postcards, merch (including the new Knights-Errant keychains), and maybe a surprise or two. :3 And speaking of stuff you can get this weekend…the Tokyo Demons dakimakura is now officially on sale! This was a goal of our Membership Drive and was voted on by our readers – thank you so much for making this ridiculous product a reality!

Lettera_adv2In other news, we’re thrilled to announce that Lêttera (by Studio Kôsen, creators of Windrose) returned this week from its short hiatus! This sexy fantasy series is completely free to read right now, including the most recent pages. Things are really starting to heat up in the newest chapter, so what are you waiting for? Load up on Kôsen comics and have a lovely weekend!



Labor (Day) of Love

sparklermag-sept2015v3-forwebIt’s Labor Day in the U.S. and Canada, where our company is based, and so I wanted to celebrate by recognizing all the endless hard work and hours that our fantastic team puts in. From our web/graphics team of Lissa and Pachi who do everything from site design and coding fixes to helping put up new pages on time; to Becca, who handles pretty much all of the Sparkler Shop (on top of editing our audio dramas!!); to Leah and Cat, our amazing production and design assistants; to Jill, who gets everyone (who gets paid) paid when she’s not running the podcast or newsletter; our newest additions of Joseph and Hiveworks, who are boosting us with their incredible marketing prowess; and Lianne, who does basically everything else and then some… It’s a great crew of people we’ve assembled behind the scenes to keep Sparkler up and running, day after day, month after month, year after year. (Editor’s note: Let’s not forget Lillian, either, who’s the head of all our precious comics!)

And that’s not counting our wonderful and talented creators as well! Every one of you gives it your all every month, and it’s such a privilege to get to work with you and read the wonderful things you bring to life.

knightserrant_keychain_imagesAnd that brings us to our September issue (#026)! This month, Windrose returns with the explosive start of Volume 2, Skyglass reaches its incredible conclusion, Orange Junk is back from its one-month hiatus, we all get to enjoy a charming new installment of The Cat Lover’s Circumstances, and everyone girds themselves for battle in Witch’s Quarry! Our podcast this month is about Tabletop RPGs, and includes an announcement of Sparkler’s next gaming project. :D

Knights-Errant is taking a month off (as is Tokyo Demons), but we’ll have some fun guest comics going up in its absence, and you can comfort yourself by purchasing these fabulous Knights-Errant keychains, now available in the Sparkler Shop! Or, if you happen to be going to YaoiCon this month, you can buy them in person (from me, not Jenn, sadly) at the Sparkler table. Huzzah!

-Lillian (comics editor)



Year 3!!

sparklermag-august2015_siteWow… Look how far we’ve come! Three years, six novels, over a thousand pages of comics, hours of audio dramas, and hundreds of loyal, devoted fans. It’s kind of mind-blowing to think about it, really, and things are only going to get better from here. Thanks to everyone who backed our successful Kickstarter (over 16K reached!!), we’re starting off Year 3 strong, and hope to only get stronger along the way!

To celebrate our first issue of the new Sparkler Year, Issue #025, we’ve got new installments of Skyglass, Knights-Errant, and Tokyo Demons, plus another HUGE chunk of Witch’s Quarry, including almost 20 brand-new pages of gender-bending fantasy adventure. And that’s not to mention the latest chapter of our favorite adorable audio drama, The Cat Lover’s Circumstances, back from its long break. :-D Combined with a new episode of our Sparkler Podcast (on video games), this issue is almost 200 pages long with 2 hours of audio!

It’s an August issue that’s hot, sweet, exciting, and full of magic, sure to delight and entertain through the final dog days of summer. Enjoy!!

Sunshine & Rainbows,

The Sparkler Team

Note: Unfortunately, due to family circumstances, the start of Windrose Vol. 2 is currently delayed. We hope to see it return in September or October!



May the Fourth (er…Fifth…) Be With You!

(I’m not just a manga nerd! I’m an all-around nerd! :-D )

Ah, I’m so excited about our May issue!! After folding the first 40 pages of Jennifer Doyle’s amazing political drama Knights-Errant into the magazine last month, we finally get to update with new pages!! I’m super psyched to be working with Jen, and even more psyched to bring you all the next phase of this fantastic story. And in honor of the new start, this month’s Member Exclusive is a behind-the-scenes podcast chat with me (and Becca) and Jen—listen in as we basically shoot the breeze for an hour, revealing both my internet lurker tendencies, and Jen and my respective overly-educated liberal arts backgrounds! Yesss…

But that’s not all we’ve got on the comics front. “For Peace” wraps up its mini-series run this month, with a lovely and charming conclusion (lady truckers are so sweet to each other!), and volume 1 of Windrose ends in a seriously epic, classic manga fashion! You’re going to love this amazing finish! Plus there’s a hilarious new installment of Orange Junk and the latest thrilling chapter of Skyglass.

So when do you get to read all this great stuff? Well, paid members can download either high-rez PDFs or ebook files of the full issue right away—not to mention get access to our Membership exclusive, which is the above-mentioned podcast with Jennifer Doyle. For folks reading for free, comics update either Monday, Wednesday and Friday, or Tuesday and Thursday, depending on the series. So you’ll get to read everything, it’ll just take a little patience!

The flip side is that this means we still have a bunch of amazing comics continuing from last month as well—from the eerie finale of the first volume of Gatesmith to the mind-blowing magical battle of Mahou Josei Chimaka, our ongoing comics are not to be missed! And that’s not even counting Lettera and Witch’s Quarry which are still going strong!

In other news, most of the Sparkler team, plus several Sparkler creators will all be at the Toronto Comic Arts Festival the weekend of May 10th and 11th—stop by, say hi, and pick up some Sparkler goodies, including print copies of The Ring of Saturn, hot off the presses! Exciting!!

In other, other news, we passed 200 members last week in our Membership Drive, but we’re still a long way from where we want to be in order to keep the company stable, let alone growing—the thing we need the most now, though, is just more awareness. So if you like what we do here, recommend us to a friend! Tell them about your favorite comic, get them to try out one of our awesome audio dramas, sit on them and read them the first chapter of one of our fabulous prose series… We hope they’ll find something that they love about Sparkler too, and then pass it along to the next future fan!

<3

The Sparkler Team



Why do we need “comics for women”? Why not “comics for everyone”?

desk

Hello there! Welcome to the Sparkler Monthly Blog, a companion to the Sparkler Monthly Podcast. This is a space for the Sparkler editors to rant on various topics from time to time.

I felt like responding to a question I still run into sometimes, since Sparkler is explicitly designed to appeal to the Female Gaze. Here’s a 101 Primer on why we do what we do.

Why do we need “comics for women”? Why not “comics for everyone”?

First of all: there’s no such as thing as “comics for everyone,” because no comic is designed to appeal to literally every kind of comics reader, nor will it be enjoyed by every kind of comics reader. What we should be saying is comics for anyone. I know that sounds like a semantics argument, but bear with me. It’s an important part of my argument. So…

suchasThen why can’t we focus on “comics for anyone”?

This is what I want–a comics industry where anyone, from any background, can find a comic that speaks to them. I want comics to cover such a broad spectrum of perspective and genre that people treat them like bigger fiction mediums (like novels, TV, and movies): just one more channel through which we consume stories in our culture.

But we’re not there yet.

There are a number of reasons the print-based Western comics industry doesn’t draw the same audience numbers as TV or prose novels, but here’s a big one: it doesn’t appeal to a broad enough audience yet. It’s not appealing to enough new and/or different people. And since the average creator and reader of comics has traditionally been male, white, and straight…

“Comics for women” is an essential step in attaining “comics for anyone.” It’s one section of “anyone” where we have a serious vacuum, and until we fix it, we don’t truly have comics for anyone. If anyone walks into a comics store today, they can choose between 80% of titles that were made by or designed to appeal to straight dudes, and then 20% of titles that are supposed to appeal to the rest of the spectrum of people who exist. If I’m not a straight white dude, will I find something that I like in there? It’s certainly possible! But the odds aren’t in my favor. And there’s the very real, very important feeling that this sort of thing conveys to me: This isn’t really for me. I’m not really welcome here. Even if the people (mostly men) who work in this store are incredibly nice to me, and the other customers (mostly men) are nothing but respectful and helpful, I still feel like an outsider.

It’s not their fault. It’s a result of the system.

It’s akin to you being a straight guy who really likes a good love story, so you go to the Romance Novel aisle of the bookstore. Do you stop and browse through all those books plastered with bare male chests, hoping to find something that really speaks to you? Probably not. Probably especially not if you’re Native American or Scottish, and your race is reduced to an exotic name and a costume for women to giggle about. (Note: I love romance novels, but that industry has a lot of crap to address, too.) It’s clear that this entire section isn’t really for you, so maybe you should get your fiction elsewhere.

This is how a lot of not-straight-white-guy people feel about comic stores, but comics aren’t a genre–they’re a medium. So now they think comics aren’t really made for them.

Look, no one is saying comic stores should become like the Romance Novel aisle. We just want them to be more like actual bookstores, where there are different aisles for different things–where anyone can walk through those doors and go to a section that appeals to them.

So why gender it?

It’s already gendered. We just don’t say it out loud. You know how Hollywood makes “movies for anyone,” yet they hire far fewer women and write far fewer stories about women and the women are usually talking about men or could be replaced with a piece of furniture? The print comics industry is like that, but it’s arguably worse.

It’s already designed to be mostly for and about men. We have to gender things or we’re ignoring reality, or, even worse, we’re assuming that the male experience is the human experience, and the female experience is “something else.” That means the female experience–half of the world–is pushed aside as “genre.”

If we don’t talk about gender, we’ll never fix this imbalance, because we’re being trained not to see it.

In Japan, a country with a MUCH bigger and more successful comics industry than ours, they use a more nuanced way of organizing their comics. For example:

-“This half of the comic store is for males.”

-“This half of the ‘male’ section is for teenage males.”

-“This aisle in the ‘teenage male’ section is full of action series.”

That’s obviously not exact (Male Gaze is still a bigger section than Female Gaze), but you get the idea. You will absolutely see grown women with baby strollers in the “action series for teen boys” section sometimes, because she knows what she’s getting and maybe that’s exactly what she wants! She has that freedom, because she’s not being pushed into a section labeled “comics for anyone” and seeing that, whoops, she’s staring at a lot of half-covered breasts and tough men with girls draped over them, so “anyone” is shorthand for “we’re almost never actually thinking about you, so you probably feel unwelcome here.” She’s being seen as a person and a valued consumer, and given her choice.

She is, as a default, welcome. And if she wants to gravitate toward the aisle where a lot of other women pushing baby strollers might be hanging out, she can! She might especially go there first if this is her first time in the store.

shutinDo you really want to exclude an entire gender when you’re making a comic series, though?

Like this thing, addressed by Kelly Sue DeConnick. (She also made up the “sexy lamp test” linked above, because she’s full of gems.)

Just because a comic was “made for women” doesn’t mean it’s only for women. It’s for anyone who likes it. According to the basic theory behind Male Gaze and shonen, James Bond is for men, Death Note is for men, any series where men are expected to relate to it more than women can (it’s about Guy Stuff, it takes shortcuts that it assumes men in the audience will understand–like the camera panning up a woman’s body because the audience is supposed to desire her) is a story “for men.” Does that mean anyone who’s not a man (a woman, someone not on the gender binary) can never enjoy or relate to a story like that? Non-men read/watch/relate to stories like that all the time, regardless if it has anything to do with their lives or desires! A good story is a good story, and can be enjoyed by anyone. (Even a bad story can be enjoyed by anyone, but that’s a rant for another time.)

Also, the nebulous concept of Guy Stuff doesn’t just appeal to The Typical Guy. (Which in the case of the Western market, is arguably a straight, healthy, cis white guy between the ages of 18 and 45.) Does a gay guy relate to the camera panning up a woman’s body? A gay woman might appreciate that more than he does. How about a story about a high school football team comprised of mostly white dudes? Maybe a Hispanic, attracted-to-men jock would get a lot more out of that than a straight white guy who was in a punk band in high school.

My point is, anyone can potentially relate to any story, we’re just trying to put more Female Gaze/shojo/Lady Stuff into the market. For anyone. And like explained above, we want more people within the monolith of “anyone” to be acknowledged and catered to.

Then how would you even define “Female Gaze,” if it’s not just for women?

Just like the traditional Male Gaze–which, remember, is the majority of Hollywood and comics–this concept is extremely broad.

In my opinion, you need to start with something that doesn’t actively alienate women or treat them as The Other. So treating women as fully realized human beings–both in the story and in real life, both on the creator end and consumer end–is the absolute baseline.

Female Gaze also skews (but is not limited to): created by ladies, about interesting female characters, sexualizing something outside of “sexy and/or objectified women,” about topics/within genres that traditionally do well with female readers, and, since Female Gaze is often reactionary, a whole host of other stuff boxed out of the traditional Male Gaze.

At Sparkler, the majority of our staff and creators are female, and not just because more of them apply to us and we value insight from people who are not Straight White Guy–women are also not as comfortable in the mainstream print comics sphere. Sometimes it’s a result of “valuing dude stuff” to the point where women don’t feel welcome (like in the comic store examples), sometimes it’s the fact that they don’t write Male Gaze and that’s most of what’s being published, and sometimes it’s outright discrimination. But there’s this giant pool of female creators, especially ones who want to write outside of the Male Gaze, and they don’t have that many publishers to go to. It’s such a waste. We wanted a place where they were considered the default and not the “exception” or a “novelty,” because it’s exhausting to be constantly trying to prove yourself in a system that wasn’t built for you.

Still, we also hire dudes and people not on the gender binary, because you don’t need to be a woman to create Female Gaze. (In fact, some women are terrible at writing Female Gaze, and some men/non-binary writers are fantastic at it.) Some of our stories are mostly about dudes. Some are about being attracted to sexy women. We only publish Female Gaze stuff that we think is really, really good, in any genre, tackling any subject.

We don’t limit ourselves, because that would be falling into the exact same trap that’s plagued Hollywood and comic stores. We want to publish Female Gaze stories that make women feel welcome, but can appeal to anyone. To broaden the definition of “anyone.”

Everyone needs to work at this if we want comics for anyone.

Lianne

(Note: Like in 2014, there will be some excellent people on the TCAF panel “What Do Women Want?” this year. I’m sure you’ll hear some great opinions there.)





Marching ever onward!

It’s almost spring, Sparkler fans, even if it doesn’t much feel like it on the East Coast. (And we just had a freak hailstorm out here on the West Coast!) So here’s a fresh, exciting new issue for all of you to enjoy!

March brings us a fabulous new installment of Windrose along with the second chapter of our charming new audio drama, The Cat Lover’s Circumstances. Plus, things get steamy in Tokyo Demons, the revolution in Dusk in Kalevia comes to a head, and two young men work through a rough patch in their friendship in the fantastic short story “Shut In Shut Out,” from Lianne Sentar and Grey Is… webcomic artist dee Juusan! And our Member Exclusive bonus of the month will be a special Skyglass side story–look forward to it!

Anyway, I’ve always felt that March is a month of transitions and new beginnings. It’s been two months since we went paywall-free on the Sparkler archive, and in that time we’ve continued to think about ways to further improve your Sparkler experience (TM!). You’ll probably notice some subtle changes to the site over the next month, with some slightly bigger ones probably in April, but our general goal is to make your reading and sharing experience easier and more enjoyable. As always, fan feedback on that front is very welcome–we want to make Sparkler a fun place full of great content that’s easy to browse and hard to leave, and it’s useful for us to know what we can do to make your experience better!

The most obvious change is a simple tweak to our non-paywall release schedule–for comics, we’ll be updating alternating series daily. So from now on: on Tuesday and Thursday, one new page of Windrose and two new pages of Witch’s Quarry shall emerge from behind the paywall, and Mon/Wed/Fri, two new pages of “Shut In Shut Out” will be released. We’ll be overhauling our series pages over the course of the month to make each individual series easier to track in our new system; the great thing about a digital format is that if we don’t like how things are playing out, we can just keep fine-tuning. :-) And on that note…we’re close to some very big surprises in the comics department that should start to roll out this month, so stay tuned!

I think this is a particularly terrific issue all around, and I hope you have as much fun with our content this month as we’ve had putting it all together!

<3

The Sparkler Staff



A New Year and New Ideas!

Welcome to 2015–may it be a bright and prosperous one all around!

So you’ve probably already noticed some changes to our site… While I think they’re mostly subtle tweaks, there were some pretty big structural shifts happening behind the scenes, facilitated very much thanks to our hard-working support staff! (Great work, ladies.) We hope they’ve made it easier for you to navigate our site, enjoy your stay, and share our content with fellow fangirls-at-heart!

In that vein, we’re officially dropping our paid archive model. :) The plan was to do away with the paywall if we hit 750 members, but the paywall itself prevents us from reaching new readers as well, so this was our compromise to make things easier on the public. So now it’s gone, and our entire chapter archive is free to read! Which means if you’re new to the site, you can go right now and read the entirety of Off*Beat for free! Or check out our two awesome short prose stories. Or read all of Jess Chavez’s spooky Dead Endings, and maybe consider buying a print copy (coming soon!). (Or listen to Awake, but actually, that’s been free to enjoy pretty much all along. Although you can now purchase an awesome digital download of the full series, which has a ton of bonus content!)

Sparkler Membership still conveys what we hope are meaningful benefits–early access to new content (now about a month earlier than free readers), multi-format digital downloads of the current issue, Member Exclusive bonuses, and for VIP Members, we’ve sweetened the pot again: now every single Cherry Bomb story is yours for no additional charge! But most importantly, your membership dollars pretty much go straight to our creative teams, and help keep the magazine afloat! We’re proud of the fact that we pay people up front for the great content they make for us, but we can’t do it without you. In the coming months (and years!), we need to get our readership high enough to sustain this place. We want our magazine to be something you value, and while we think we’re getting there (we’re already incredibly proud of the work our creative teams have done!), your feedback is always welcome, so let us know what you’d like to see in the future to make that paid membership precious to you.

(From a personal perspective, I’m really psyched that each of our short comics series get their own series page now! You can really see how much great stuff our teams have produced in the last year! More about that in our podcast this month. ;-) )

On the content front, this month we’re bringing out new chapters of Skyglass, Dusk in Kalevia, Windrose, Gatesmith, and Tokyo Demons for you to enjoy! Plus our Sexy Couples Calendar from last month will soon be available as a series of spiffy downloadable desktop backgrounds for members. We’ll have a team podcast with our editorial staff, talking about highlights of 2014, and what we’re all looking forward to in the new year!

As always, thanks a million for your enthusiasm and support! 2014 was a really exciting year for us, and we think we’re on track to make 2015 even better!

<3

The Sparkler Team



Brrr!

The days are getting shorter and it’s starting to feel like winter outside, but we’ve got plenty of sizzling stuff this month to keep you warm, first and foremost being an amazing, fiery cover by the fantastic Asia Kendrick-Horton. Things are going to heat up in Skyglass Chapter 6 this month, but Phoenix is always smokin’. *wink wonk*

Gatesmith and Dusk in Kalevia are both taking a month off, but our line-up this month is still super exciting. We’ve got a thrilling new installment of Windrose, the dramatic next section of Tokyo Demons Vol. 3, the start of the brand-new mini-series For Peace from Dinner Ditz‘s Alexis Cooke (featuring lady truckers in loooove!), plus a teaser of a new KaiJu magical-woman mini-series that will launch in our December issue: Mahou Josei Chimaka!

That’s to say nothing of DNA-RW, a dark prose short by two creators we’re happy to welcome to Sparkler: Sarah “Neila” Elkins of Here There Be Monsters, and Ru Xu of Saint for Rent! Nel has an unusual ability–she can copy DNA and rewrite her own DNA to match it. When she decides to use this shape-shifting skill to help find a serial kidnapper, she swiftly finds herself in over her(?) head.

And last but certainly not least, our Member Exclusive of the month will be a behind-the-scenes chat with the actors from Awake, our first original audio drama! Stay tuned for that in Week 3 this month. ^_^ It’s to celebrate the release of the complete Awake series set coming to the Sparkler Shop in Week 4. And speaking of the shop, we recently released a limited run of Sparkler mini sketchbooks that are available now!

BTW, if you don’t follow our Tumblr or Facebook, you might have missed that we’ve got a bunch of our comics up on Comixology now, if you like reading things that way. (I know I do! The Ring of Saturn looks particularly great on my tablet. ;-) And if you’re looking for the perfect ebook to curl up with on a gloomy day with your hot beverage of choice, Dead Endings is now up and available in a new complete edition (with a bonus story!) from our shop, or via Amazon!

In other news, Gauntlet has been sent to press, and Tokyo Demons vol. 2 isn’t far behind! We should have those available in spiffy print editions for all your holiday shopping needs before too long. <3



Get your creepy on!

Happy Halloween, Sparkler Fans! The days are getting shorter and leaves are falling from the trees outside my apartment, so it’s time to snuggle up with some new content from Sparkler! (Los Angeles is currently having a major heat-wave, so it’s not exactly snuggling weather, but it’s the thought that counts, right?)

This month marks the return of Tokyo Demons and the start of Volume 3 of the series, so we decided to go extra-creepy on this cover by featuring everyone’s favorite massively unhealthy relationship, Touya and Kado! Bad touch, Touya, bad touch.

We also get a solid dose of the supernatural with the latest installment of Gatesmith, plus the tension ramps up and clothes are lost in Dusk in Kalevia, while in Skyglass, Moss (thanks to Phoenix) makes a breakthrough–kicking and screaming, no less!

Windrose is on break this month, as Studio Kosen prepares for a big month of travel, but we’ll see chapter 3 of the series in November, along with some exciting new additions to our comics library. In the meantime, Alexis Cooke is drawing us a terrific Dinner Ditz short comic for our member exclusive of the month–that’s coming in Week 3, and it’s going to be a real treat! In Week 4, we fill the last slot of this issue with more Tokyo Demons: the reader-prompted AU short Fukuhashi Fight Club.

In other news, our Membership Drive is still ongoing, as we aim for the next raffle at 200 members. Keep up the great work helping us get the word out, friends! (Like Coco, who’s running her own Sparkler raffle in October!)

And we now have lovely digital copies of Dead Endings, and Tokyo Demons Vol 2 up in the Sparkler shop–buy them and you get additional never-before-seen bonus material. And Before You Go is also available to readers through Comixology now, if you’re curious to try it out in a different electronic medium!



Back to School with Sparkler!

It’s the end of summer, much to our dismay, but you can start the school year off right with some fine original fiction from Sparkler! This month we have the second installments of our two new comics series, Gatesmith and Windrose, plus things get even messier in Kalevia, Phoenix tries her hand at something ambitious in Skyglass…and we reach the emotional finale of Awake!

Our subscriber exclusive for the month will be a podcast with Off*Beat and Gatesmith creator Jen Lee Quick—we’re recording it next weekend, so please feel free to send us your questions for Jen via social media (Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, take your pick!) so we can include them in the podcast!

Plus, Gauntlet is now available as an ebook in our Shop—print version coming soon! And later this month, we’ll get the ebook of both Tokyo Demons: Book 2 and Dead Endings!

And thanks so much for your support so far in getting the word out about our Membership Drive! Your help here is invaluable. Keep up the great work on your end, and we’ll be able to provide you with even more great content on our end. As always, your feedback is very welcome as well–this is the second month where we’re releasing all our content at once (minus the member exclusive, which comes on the third Monday of the month), and we’re curious to see what you all think! Plus, we’ve changed our member downloads to have all comics and all prose in a single file (or one giant PDF!), and “series-so-far” downloads for individual series for VIP members. Is this something you’re all using? Are you enjoying it? Let us know what you think and how we can make your experience with Sparkler easier and ever more enjoyable!

<3 The Sparkler Monthly Team

P.S. There are many fine things about living in Southern California, but I really, really miss New England autumns…



Happy Indie Publish–er…Independence Day!

Happy Independent Publishing Compan–I mean… Happy Independence Day, America!

And a belated Happy Canada Day to our friends (and co-founders) up North. I’m celebrating the holidays by going to Anime Expo. ^_^ Nothing says FREEDOM like a zillion cosplayers and a bustling Artist’s Alley!

This month we are thrilled to announce the premiere of our newest comic serial, Windrose, by creative team Studio Kosen! We’ve been huge fans of Kosen’s work for ages, and this we can’t wait to share this swashbuckling tale of 17th Century romance and mystery with you all.

Also this month, rockers rock out in Skyglass, Cailen finds the killer in Dead Endings, rival angels come face to face in Kalevia, and Miriam goes stargazing in “The Ring of Saturn.” We’re also excited to welcome Little Foolery paperbacks into the Sparkler Shop, along with new ebook products for our short stories! From July, the climactic Awake Chap 9 is now free to stream, and did you check our the surprise continuation of Tokyo Demons: Book 2? :)

Plus, you have until Sunday morning, July 6th to send the Sparkler staff your questions for our latest Sparkler Podcast–which will be this month’s Subscriber Exclusive. Tell us what you’ve been dying to know, and we’ll do our best to answer in entertaining and original ways! Submit your questions now on Tumblr or Facebook or email your questions to manager@chromaticpress.com.

As longtime Sailor Moonies who are insanely excited about Sailor Moon Crystal‘s debut, we launched our Sparkler Blog today to discuss how Sailor Moon influenced our fujoshi editors. And if you’re at Connecticon this month, come see Dusk in Kalevia author Emily Compton and Sparkler editors Lianne and Rebecca on the Writing Fiction through the Female Gaze panel at 5 pm on Friday (July 11).

Thanks again for all your support in June! We got a ton of great entries for the Sparkler Share Your World contest (we’ll be announcing the winners soon!), and with your help, reblogs and Facebook shares, we completed our Kickstarter for a print-run of Gauntlet. We’ll be sending that to the printer shortly, with Tokyo Demons Volume 2 joining it soon after.

It’s hard to believe it’s been almost a year since we officially launched Sparkler Monthly… We’ve learned a ton and had a great time working with some amazingly talented creators, and we’re going to be putting some of our hard-won knowledge into action next month with a few changes to the site and our format. More details will be coming soon, but we’re looking forward to heading into Sparkler Year 2 with new energy and a whole lot of great stories to excite and inspire!



June is Bustin’ Out All Over!

What a month, guys!

We’ve just released the mind-bending conclusion of Gauntlet (with no paywall), wherein Clio finally figures out how to escape from the bizarre maze in which she’s been trapped…but what does leaving really mean?

On that note, we’re running a Gauntlet paperback Kickstarter to give you the opportunity to pre-order our first complete Sparkler original prose story, plus snag some great bonuses at the same time! If you’d like a hard copy of this awesome novel to go on your bookshelf, help us out and spread the word. And to help support the Kickstarter, *all* of Gauntlet will be out from behind the paywall this month, just to whet your appetite! Which makes this a great time to share the series with any friends who may be intrigued by the story, but don’t have a Sparkler subscription to read all the back issues. ;-)

Speaking of sharing fun stuff with friends, don’t forget about our Sparkler Share Your World contest, which ends on June 3oth! Check out our great entries so far on the Sparkler Monthly tumblr (all tagged “submissions”), and consider sending us an entry of your own! Our top prize includes cash, so it’s a great way to fund some summer fun.

And as one series ends, another begins. This month we launch Skyglass, a brand new prose series by Jenn Grunigan with illustrations by the amazing Mookie. With an eye-searingly awesome cover spot this month, Skyglass is going to knock everyone’s socks off. Featuring space elves, pop stars, and fire elementals, Skyglass is an amazing addition to the Sparkler line-up (although some of you careful readers may have enjoyed our little sneak preview in “Cinderseed” a few months back!). Get ready for a tale that’s out of this world! (Albeit still set on Earth…)

That’s not all we’ve got this month, either! Starting in two weeks is the first installment of a three-chapter short comic from KAIJU. “The Ring of Saturn” is set in a private girls’ school in Great Britain at the outset of World War I. Starring Miriam, a young pianist who excels at playing exciting pieces but struggles with more reflective works, it has the honor of almost certainly being the first comic to feature Gustav Holst. :D Music is one of the hardest things to convey in visual media, and these ladies are really knocking it out of the park on that front. Can’t wait to share it with you all!

Our audio department head Rebecca’s got her hands full in June, with two audio updates and a Sparkler School audio drama how-to as our Subscriber Exclusive for the month. The true story behind the dead body(!) is in the latest installment of Awake, and we reach the exciting finale of Tokyo Demons Audio!

From last month, the adorable comic Dinner Ditz Part 2 (final) is free to read for a limited time, and the Off*Beat Volume 3 ebook will be available in our shop in a matter of days!