We Were Always Here edited by Ryan Vance & Michael Lee Richardson

We Were Always Here cover

We Were Always Here is an anthology of fiction and poetry showcasing Scottish LGBT+ writers across a range of genres and styles. Some pieces are historical or speculative, others look at modern life, love, and hints of the magical. As with many anthologies that contain a variety of styles across a common theme, there are certain pieces that will resonate with different people, and others that are less up someone’s street, and it’s a strength of the editing that the collection moves between different pieces so well, bringing different work together side by side. Some personal favourites were some of the contemporary-set stories looking at characters and their relationships (like Christina Neuwirth’s ‘Sequins’) and a poem about a punctuation error around Mary Shelley.

This anthology is a chance to discover new writers, think about different genres and styles, and get a quick hit of varied LGBT writing all at once. It is important that collections like this keep coming out (no pun intended) as they give a chance to read both familiar and unfamiliar authors together in an accessible format. And it’s always good to see another great book from 404 Ink.

We Shall Fight Until We Win (pub. by 404 Ink and BHP Comics)

We Shall Fight Until We Win is a graphic anthology showcasing the lives of political women for the centenary of the first wave of women in the UK gaining the right to vote. Female writers and artists have come together to create short comics only a few pages long that tell the stories of women both well-known and lesser-known who have been engaged in politics in the UK and beyond.

The stories told in the book are wide-ranging, diverse, and often fascinating. This is an anthology that doesn’t shy away from the difficult topics, highlighting where the subjects of these comics have held questionable ideals. Many people may see the inclusion of Margaret Thatcher and question her place in the anthology, but actually the piece in question is about the fact she did not fight for women. Telling women’s political stories must include the less savoury elements as well. Alongside this, there is a focus on lesser-known figures and those often reduced to tiny notes in the margin of history (excellently covered in one comic) or silenced altogether.

It isn’t difficult to see that We Shall Fight Until We Win is an important anthology that engages with women involved in politics and activism in the UK. The short comics are moving and readable, making them an ideal way to engage people not interested or able to read a huge book about female political history, and the artwork is quirky and memorable. Once you read it, you’ll be thinking of more and more people in your life that need to read it as well.