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BIO

L. Nichols was born and raised in rural southwest Louisiana and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and a master’s degree in Media Arts and Sciences, both from MIT. L. has a unique voice that utilizes the language of science and engineering to add an additional layer of meaning and complexity to his work. Nichols also incorporates elements of comics to turn his paintings into broader narrative forms. L. lives and works as an illustrator, comic artist, graphic designer, educator and sometime blacksmith with his wife and their two children in New York’s Hudson Valley. He has been published in over a dozen comics and art books. Flocks is his debut graphic novel.

IN THE EMPORIUM

L.’s comics can be found in the Secret Acres Emporium here.


IN PRAISE OF L. NICHOLS

Part of a growing body of trans comics, L. Nichols’s autobiographical Flocks upbringing in southwest Louisiana — where he was raised as a girl — and present his improbable, fraught journey to M.I.T. and later into his transition and marriage… …Nichols’s narrative uses cartoon figuration — in this case, a shifting, button-eyed rag doll — to represent nonbinary gender identity, revealing how comics can help offer a language of expression outside of societal norms.

– The New York Times

This moving, skillfully wrought coming-of-age graphic memoir shares Nichols’s struggle to integrate his queer identity with a devout Southern Baptist upbringing: “No matter how hard I tried, I never heard ‘me’ when they said ‘we.’ ” Nichols, who is targeted as a lesbian while growing up (“I heard she’s a dyke”) and now identifies as a transgender man, first presented these stories in a series of pamphlet comics. Throughout the narrative, Nichols depicts himself as a button-eyed rag doll, perpetually set apart from “normal” family and peers, developing same-sex crushes while still attempting to reconcile his religious faith with the virulently anti-LGBTQ messages baked into the culture: “Instead of questioning the church’s teachings, I threw myself even further in.” Nichols is a talented artist, often utilizing symbology (such as the arrows that point at him whenever he feels his secrets have been exposed) in almost incantatory fashion. Over time, Nichols establishes his own flock of family and community as a fully integrated person. Written and drawn with equal parts raw honesty and a wide-open heart, this lovely full-color book should have crossover appeal for younger readers, middle school and up, opening up the experience of any reader challenged by their gender identity, sexuality, and/or conflicting religious beliefs.

– Publishers Weekly

In the revealing and honest Flocks, L. Nichols offers a unique, intelligent perspective on finding one’s niche, overcoming confusion over sexual identity, and reconciling oneself to a well-meaning but rigidly traditional religious family… …Nichols charts a course of self-discovery—a winding path strewn with hazards but always lit by fierce intelligence. Nichols finally identifies as a trans man; as monumental as that self-realization is, Flocks is much more than just one person’s story. Nichols handles both his parents and the church with depth and unblinking analysis, recognizing that each, though flawed, contributed positively to the creation of the happy, successful father that he is today… …Flocks is a generous glimpse into the most personal of issues, shared by an author who knows how to look at a situation from every angle.

-Foreword

Flocks is one of the most powerful works I’ve read… …It’s remarkable in that it avoids judgement and preachiness in her handling of what are generally perceived as extremely sensitive subjects… …a searingly honest piece of work.

– Zainab Akhtar, Comics Beat

Flocks is an immense achievement, but it’s also striking how well Nichols made the individual issues stand on their own and how well they work as chapters of a book — and how well it comes together into a thoughtful and emotional story arc. It is one of the best of the year, but also deserves a place among the very best graphic memoirs ever made.

– Smash Pages

(Nichols) brings an instantly apparent, appealing, and accessible intensity of emotion and craft to whatever she’s doing, in whatever vein.

– The Comics Journal

The intimacy of a mini-comic that deals with an issue close to the heart of the author and reader can make for powerful reading… …My own personal experience came later than it did for Nichols, but I can still feel the pain and fear on every page of her comic as though it were my own.

– Panel Patter

Nichols’s incredibly empathetic and humane autobio series about the various groups that have had an impact on their life reaches an almost unbearable point of agony and then resolves in an unexpected but remarkably hopeful way… …After extending empathy, compassion, understanding and the benefit of the doubt to everyone else, Nichols finally gave it to themself. The joy and radiance in Nichols’s line at this point fairly bursts off the page.

– High-Low

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