The Author: Al Varela
Hey! I’m Al. Nice to meet you! I’m a cartoonist and comic writer who bases primarily on slice-of-life LGBTQA+ stories and dabble in Ace Attorney, Pokemon, and She-Ra fanart! I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember, and all my life I’ve been drawn to the medium of animation and how it’s able to express emotions and create worlds not possible in real life. As someone who’s introverted and a little awkward, I find it hard to articulate my feelings or express myself in the way I want to, and drawing has helped me really capture those emotions that words sometimes can’t describe. I’m also fascinated with human relationships, romantic, familial or platonic, and how they help someone grow and become a different person as they get older and grow wiser.
“Young, Dumb & Queer” came about as a sort of reflection on me and my friends growing up, and the many ways they’ve impacted my life and made me into the person I am today. Pearl reflects a lot of my own experiences regarding my sexuality, gender identity, relationships, and general anxiety over facing the real world and learning to be there for myself. Characters like Leslie, Tyler, Faith, and Maggie are based on the friends I’ve made over the years in both their personalities and their impacts on my life. But I didn’t want the story to just be about Pearl. While they are the main character, so to speak, every member of the group is equally important and also learning to grow up and be the person they’re destined to be. Whether that’s Faith learning to embrace her late, questioning sexuality, Leslie trying to work through her depression and try not to burn the bridges that have kept her intact, Tyler keeping a positive attitude in the face of a world that works against his very morals, or Maggie’s family issues and struggles with being an unconventional trans woman, everyone has a lot to go through. But they’re there for each other, and that’s what matters most.