In their debut graphic novel Boys Weekend, Queens-based cartoonist Mattie Lubchansky translates their experiences as trans-femme into a satirical lampoon of the insidious, cult-like nature of tech culture while humorously detailing the not-so-funny succession of micro- and macro-aggressions trans folk face on a daily basis. The book is out now from Pantheon.

Boys Weekend is a funny, scary satirical horror tale featuring the newly-out trans-femme Sammie, who reluctantly agrees to attend their old college best friend Adam’s bachelor party weekend held on El Campo, a wildly decadent man-made island resort floating in the Atlantic Ocean. Things start out uncomfortably—clueless Adam asks Sammie to be his “best man”—and get worse as Adam and crew’s thoughtless reactions to Sammie’s new identity range from strained, awkward support to barely concealed hostility. As the bachelor-party weekend progresses, Adam’s posse of toxic tech bros (and one equally toxic straight cis woman) becomes increasingly insufferable, and the El Campo experience grows ominous. Sammie notices a weird cult holding a conference at the hotel, and monstrous creatures lurking in the ocean. Very soon, Sammie is fighting for their life as bodies begin to pile up around them.

PW talked to Lubchansky about the autobiographical aspects of their character Sammie, the challenges of living an authentic life in a capitalist society, the pleasures of working in the horror genre, and why trans folk fit into the realm of horror so well.

Publishers Weekly: There’s a distinct feel of autobiography with your protagonist, Sammie. How much of yourself is in Sammie?

Mattie Lubchansky: A transgender person being on a bachelor party weekend and being the best man for their old college friend is sort of the very root of the headlines of my life. I got the idea for the story when I was at my friends' bachelor party when I was very freshly out of the closet, and not out to a lot of my friends. So it's a little different in that Sammie has been out for a while longer than I had been. The other difference is that I like my friends. I had a fine time and I'm still friends with them. I just don't like Las Vegas very much. Sammy is a timider version of myself. I was putting them through all these trials that I’d gone through that I think a lot of trans people identify with and want to talk about.

In the past I was a straight man, or I thought I was. I went to engineering school and worked as an engineer for seven years. Then I quit to become an artist’s assistant, before I finally became an artist full time. But there was a long time where I was just hanging out with a lot of dudes—I put in my time! I was miserable though, and I didn't know why. I eventually found my people, and they turned out to be very outside of the norm.

When you're first coming out, it's like, “I don't want impose on anybody. I don't want to make them call me something different. I don't want to make people accommodate me.” I boiled all that down into a character who is otherwise happy and has a life they've built that they enjoy. So that part is autobiographical.

Sammie’s identity as a newly-out trans-femme person seems to make them absolutely perfect as the protagonist in a horror story. Why is that?

I think that trans issues slot into horror very nicely for a lot of reasons. And that's even before the sort of terrifying moment that we're in right now. A lot of marginalized identities generally fit into horror so well because so much of horror is about what society's afraid of, or what we deem as lesser than the terrifying forces that are acting upon us, in one way or another. I think that being trans in this culture is terrifying for a lot of reasons, anyway. It's getting scarier all the time. When I first started this book, a lot of things were bad, but not bad in the way they are now, politically. This story originally was less about existential terrorism being translated but more about day-to-day stuff. You know: having to come out over and over to people, dealing with invasive questions and generally just dealing with how society treats us. And less about how the state is marching down your block right now, looking for you.

How did the horror/sci-fi aspects of the story come into play? Did you set out to make a genre thriller?

If we're going to divide things into genre versus literary, I want to go genre every time. All my favorite stories are genre stories, sci-fi, horror, fantasy or what have you. My favorite stories use that framework, which I think is fun to play off of, especially for things like comedy. Because so much of humor is built on expectations. Genre offers a framework to play around in, which is very appealing to me. When I first had the idea for the story, it was at its core a final girl story in this specific setting. That was always the spark. I’ve always been a big sci-fi reader and I like horror a lot. Actually, when I'm working on comics, I tend to watch a lot of movies. They help get my visual senses stimulated for drawing.

The book cleverly satirizes both tech culture and late-stage capitalism. Do you see a direct link between the two?

The two are inextricably linked. We live under capitalism, transphobia, patriarchy, racism, and a zillion other oppressions. And by necessity, capitalism requires this underclass. Which is not to say that prejudice is a creation of capitalism and didn't exist before it, and won't exist after it, because that's a whole other monster. But it's impossible to ignore. I think what I'm trying to explore is between where the money currently exists and where power exists and who it's being leveraged against, and how they are treated by society at large.

Capitalism presents a vision for what a desirable person should be, and those aspirations manifest in a more volatile, violent, depressive version of masculinity, whiteness, straightness, or what have you. You know, Bro culture. As much as the Ben Shapiros of the world seem convinced that the capitalists want you to be gay, they're confusing a marketing strategy to sell stuff to us for actual power. But what is most desirable for society at large is a straight white, heterosexual man. And to exist apart from that can provoke all kinds of negative reactions, including violence. We've all sort of decided that well, this is how society works and we're all gonna fit into it. Or not. But capitalism is not something that we have to be doing. We can question it.