Current BFA Cartooning student Hazel Newlevant recently received the 2013 Prism Comics Queer Press Grant for If This Be Sin and Dance the Blues, two comics that she’s created while at SVA.
Identity politics and gender dynamics populate Newlevant’s senior thesis comic, If This Be Sin, a historiography of Gladys Bentley, a cross-dressing Harlem Renaissance pianist whose wry melodic parodies satirized the limitations of gender categories and sang to the experience of life on the fringe. If This Be Sin follows Bentley (known for her signature white tuxedo and desirable girlfriends) as she confronts societal constraints and challenges characteristic of her time.
Inspired by Portaland, Oregon’s queer-positive community, Dance the Blues tells the story of a young woman and her enchanting encounter with a female dance partner as restrictive gender roles are disregarded in favor of exploration through intimacy in movement.
Newlevant plans on using the Prism grant money to publish Dance the Blues and If This Be Sin, along with an additional comic, as a full-color book spring of 2014. Prism Comics Queer Press Grant is an annual award funded entirely by donations that assists LGBT comic creators with the publication of works that contribute to the LGBT community. For more information about Newlevant’s entries or the Queer Press Grant, visit prismcomics.org.