This Swedish comic zine tells the stories of cowgirls in a wild west setting sans biological men, meaning that the characters are either “queer, lesbian, or cowgirls”. The zine comics are created by Karolina Bang who explores topics such as queerness, sexuality, gender roles, and erotics in her zines. In her comics, she challenges gender roles in a western world where there’s lots of dancing, banjo playing, freight trains, and a kind of utopian air about the place. She also confronts the world’s bigotry and bias of today’s physical world such. (i.e. women are supposed to look like this, or men are supposed to be in this position). Imagine a world where there are no cowboys. What’s erotic is not some hunky man on a horse riding off into the distance, instead it’s a women (queer, lesbian, other another gender identity) watching the western sunset sitting atop of horse with a lasso. 

I found these comics really interesting because Bang take the iconic western image of cowboys in the wild west and replaces the cowboys with cowgirls. But not just the stereotypical sexy, passive cowgirl, but a cowgirl who knows how to shoot a gun, rob a bank, have rough sex, and doesn’t need a man to rescue her. She does the rescuing. She’s the active character.  No more Jesse James, it’s Jessie James who plays the banjo, rides the freight trains, and robs the banks. (Though, I’m not sure if there’s bank robbing in these comics. They’re in Swedish and I couldn’t find them online…I think you have to buy them). The comics are full of sex, lust, and desire between women. 


I also think that this zine is interesting because it’s a Swedish woman’s perception of the “wild west” with a flavored twist not just for creativity, but also to illustrate (literally) her activism. Here’s a link to her blog. 




2 thoughts on “Cowgirls

  1. I think that this zine is very interesting, especially if you consider the iconic significance that the “wild west” has in the Western imaginary. Playing cowboys or cowgirls is something that most adults remember doing as children. This zine takes an iconic image and reads it in a queer way. I’m unsure what it means that this is created by a Swedish author rather than an American, but it does seem to still play on this idea of twisting and altering what is traditionally straight.
    I also think that this is a good example of Piepmeier’s argument that zines are closely related to their second wave predecessors. When reading this post I thought of the lesbian separatist urania type novels that depicted feminist-lesbian utopias. This seems to have the same project but occurs in a different setting.

  2. I agree that this is a particularly interesting zine! I was very intrigued by it, which is why I chose to comment on your post. Playing cowboys/cowgirls was definitely something that a lot of people did do growing up, but when watching western films, it wasn’t until much later that cowgirls were given the same attention that cowboys were. Women in westerns were really there for the men to marry and protect, and not many took the role of a powerful, independent woman. In fact, it still doesn’t seem that much attention is given to them. It may have progressed to where they are present in the films, but there are very few movies specifically dedicated to a cowGIRL. They are usually supporting characters. I think this zine really stands out, as yes, it does take something so traditionally masculine and make it feminine too. This is important when addressing gender identity, as it removes the idea that men and women must adhere to a certain norm. In this case, women are allowed to be the heroes: independent, rough, and powerful.

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