When Brian Andersen and James Neish set out to kickstart one issue of their comic Stripling Warrior a few years, they had no idea that not only would it be a success, but that it would strike a nerve. Some of the press and the attention has been about the very idea of a gay Mormon superhero, but Andersen uses Mormon theology and stories similarly to how Catholic teachings have become so familiar to many of us through pop culture.
The series, which has now been collected into a trade collection, is about Sam Shepard and Fe Fernandez, two queer ex-Mormons who are charged by an angel to be the Hand of God on Earth. It sounds heavily religious, but no more so than many other comics that draw from different religious traditions, but it’s a book that also embraces superhero conventions. At its heart, the book is about two conversations. One is between Sam and Fe about how they never stopped believing, the church’s hatred towards them has meant that they refuse to accept this mission as face value, even as they seek to carry out their quest. The other conversation is between their spouses, Jase and Shonda, about identity and how their sexuality is vital to who they have become, but it does not define them because they are so much more than that.
Stripling Warrior is a book unlike anything else on the stands, and I spoke with Brian Andersen about the project, making a sex positive, inclusive story, and what he’s working on now.