Bishakh Som

Bishakh Som by Shriya Samavai

“Realizing my transness and womanhood has been an integral part of achieving my artistic ambitions,” graphic novelist Bishakh Som tells GO. “I’ve been drawing, painting, and making comics all my life, but it was only when I quit my full-time job in architecture that I was able to seriously consider making art for a living.” Around this time, she began her debut graphic novel, “Apsara Engine,” which would later win the L.A. Times Book Prize for Best Graphic Novel as well as a Lambda Literary Award for Best LGBTQ Comics. She also recognized something about herself: “I had always written and drawn women as the protagonists of my comics, not knowing quite why, but now they seemed to be calling to me, beckoning me, embracing me as one of their own.” “For most of my life, I never thought I would be able to sharpen my love of drawing, art and comics into a life’s work, but coming out as trans and becoming a trans femme has honed that process and given me a divine sense that my gender and my art are inseparable,” she tells GO. Her graphic memoir “Spellbound” was a 2021 Lambda Literary Award finalist, the same year “Apsara Engine” won the prize for Best LGBTQ Comics. Her work has appeared in publications such as The New Yorker, The Boston Review, Black Warrior Review, VICE, and Huffington Post. But the most rewarding part of her work isn’t the success; it’s “being able to jumpstart the images of queer/femme utopias into being, to have joyous femmes fully inhabiting, dancing, frolicking, thriving in a queer landscape.” —RK

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