Casper Cendre started writing letters to queer people in prison when they was in high school. Cendre wanted to know what queer life was like from the inside. Since then, he’s received thousands of letters and artwork.
Ten years later, Cendre directs A.B.O. Comix, a non-profit collective of artists and activists dedicated to providing community and healing. Through selling anthologies of artwork created by incarcerated contributors, A.B.O. has raised over $43,000 in mutual aid to help queer prisoners buy commissary items and pay for medical bills. When and if they are released, A.B.O. also provides a few hundred dollars.
A.B.O. receives hundreds of letters each month from LGBTQ people all over the United States. The collective recently released its latest anthology about what it’s like to be in prison during the COVID pandemic. William Duclos writes from Massachusetts and describes dinner during the lockdown:
1 slice of lunch meat. 1 slice of cheese. 2 slices of bread. 1 cup of lettuce. 2 brownie cupcakes.
A.B.O. Comix works to amplify queer voices and strives towards abolition of prisons. Casper Cendre is calling for compassion over punitive systems, which he says “isn’t working for our communities and our families, so we have to try something new.”
A.B.O. Comix welcomes volunteers, pen pals, and donations to help people on the inside buy food, gender-affirming items and more. Find A.B.O. Comix’ latest anthology — a 374-page, full-color opus — previous anthologies and more at https://www.abocomix.com/
“COVID-19 in prison” artwork courtesy of A.B.O. Comix
Most of this feature first aired in October 2020.