Visual Artist, Poet & Filmmaker, Ji Strangeway
By Michel Khordoc

Visual Artist, Poet & Filmmaker, Ji Strangeway offers a raw and realistic take on the teenage experience for LGBTQ youth in new graphic novel “Red As Blue”
With a unique, genre-bending style that is sometimes lyrical, sometimes sharp as a razor’s edge, and always engaging; Ji Strangeway’s Red as Blue, beckons LGBTQ youths and X-gens to beautifully come of age all over again.

Set in a fictional desert town in 1980s Colorado, Red as Blue is the story of 15-year-old June Lusparian, an outcast caught between worlds. Half Mexican and half Armenian, June hovers on the border of adulthood, searching the streets of Paradise and the halls of Paradise High for signs of redemption – symptoms of life.

When she falls for blonde, cool girl Beverly, captain of the Spirit Girls cheer squad, June hopes she may, at last, have found that one true thing. But as their nascent romance grows, June learns true connection requires more than a bond of pain and the ache of desire.

Strangeway’s graphic novel offers a much more raw and realistic take on the teenage experience than most books in learning how to survive in school and the battle between clans. She tackles a variety of relevant, current and very real issues that teenagers (still) face today: suicide, gender identity, love & sexuality, social classes and acceptance.

A visual artist, poet, and filmmaker, Ji Strangeway is naturally inclined to tell stories that words can’t express but images can.

Red as Blue is not a traditional graphic novel. It is a hybrid—which is literature mixed with screenplay format and also text messing symbols.

What makes Red as Blue different than most classic American Teen Dramas is that it is neither frivolous nor juvenile. The story world uniquely takes place in the Chicano culture in America…and that part of society is rarely illustrated in high school stories unless specifically written for the Hispanic community.

To some degree the book is a myth-buster about the American experience in terms of romantic idealism. In the 1980s where the story is set, there wasn’t a place for people to be openly gay and certainly not for queer-questioning kids who didn’t believe in gay or straight but purely #loveislove as the hash now stands today.

While a lot of tragic events happen in the story, overall Strangeway tells a love story that doesn’t end in tragedy and offers hope.

High school is a near-universal experience that many of us can relate to. It is also a complicated, turbulent and messy time in life in that comes with a load and wide range of feelings. Myriads of books have been written about it…but Ji’s unique approach with Red As Blue makes this graphic novel an essential – certainly among the few gems that really nail it and have something to say.

Ultimately, Ji Strangeway wrote the book as a healing journey for many generations of LGBTQ youths who had lived a life of unlived freedom and potential.

She hopes it will inspire readers, especially the youth to learn how to transform their creative and often destructive energy into something power…and that #loveoverpower is the way toward building the ideal world and to transcend adversity or darkness.

Film director, author, and poet, Ji Strangeway is driven by the persistent, frenetic pull of the universe. She embraces the female-centric coming of age love story. Her short film Nune, nominated for best short film screenplay by the International Filmmaker Festival of World Cinema Berlin, is an LGBTQ teen drama that draws on the sacred bond of first love. Strangeway’s cinematic style emerges in her written work. Her latest graphic novel, Red as Blue, introduces YA readers to a unique cross-genre aesthetic. Strangeway’s work is an unconventional call to action. Her words are for the dreamers and idealists.