Becoming “Better Monsters”:
Queer Body Horror in InSEXts
Keywords:Marguerite Bennett, body horror, comic studies, inSEXts, Ariela Kristantina, lesbian, monster theory, neo-Victorianism, queer theory
On the basis of Marguerite Bennett and Ariela Kristantina’s InSEXts: Year One (2018), this article examines the nexus between neo-Victorianism and the comic genre. The comic’s deconstructive form has great potential to examine neo-Victorian historicity, because the juxtaposed panels resist closure. Applying a blend of queer and monster theory to explore InSEXts’s construction of sexual Otherness, the article firstly reads the protagonists’ transformations into butterfly-like creatures as a queer morphology interrogating the Victorian discourse on homosexuality. Secondly, it considers monstrous-feminine propensities like the vagina dentata as strategies of empowering appropriation, while patriarchal anxieties about female bodies are projected onto the male body in an act of revengeful reversion. Thirdly, the article discusses the antagonists’ monstrous embodiments as manifestations of internalised, colonial misogyny. Throughout, it addresses questions of neo-Victorian agency, the reader’s complicity in neo-Victorian appropriations of the Victorians, as well as the neo-Victorian tension between reproduction and re-appropriation.
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