As the world of comics evolves, so too do the artists behind them. There’s no better example than Aki Hassan, a Singapore-based multidisciplinary artist who creates beautiful and delicately-drawn comics that widen the scope of LGBTQIA+ representation in the comic book medium. Whilst adept in drawing, printed matter, sculpture, and installation, Aki tells us they’re yet to find anything else that has enabled them “to think about structures, relational dynamics and resistance in the way that comics do.” Sitting down to talk with Aki is a treat, to say the least, as they’re full of interesting wisdom that mirrors the intricacy of their visual work. “I draw to reflect on cisnormativity as this bodily experience that I confront as a nonbinary person,” they tell It’s Nice That. “There is a strictness in my expression and consciousness, especially when I am performing as or for cis(gender).” In doing so, Aki is always paying attention to the ways their body orientates, “the way it falls into corners, edges and flat surfaces” to shape their drawings and forms.
Most importantly for Aki, they want to draw trans* experiences “without making figurative art”, and comics are ideal to “experiment and expand on these ideas,” as the medium often provides a blurring of boundaries and experimentation in narratives and mark-making. Their new comic Nonbinaryhood is a shining example of such work, as it’s a comic where “readers are invited to think about the systems we exist within and without, and the allowances we make for ways-of-being imposed upon us,” explains Aki. “This work puts to use the comic’s compositional structure, its frames, as guides for the drawn curves and lines to navigate.” In Nonbinaryhood, we see glimpses of the comic’s form ‘misbehaving’ in ways, acting non-linear and sporadic. But, Aki’s intentions with the comic do not stop there. “Through Nonbinaryhood, I explored what tolerance and quieter forms of resistance looks like,” they say. “Perhaps, they exist in the form of small bulges, tight squeezes or off-kilter gestures.”