Shangela going through a Hulk-like costume transformation in one of Cheyne Gallarde’s illustrations.
Illustration: Cheyne Gallarde

Watching a drag queen get into costume is a lot like watching a superhero transform from their civilian identity as they get ready to fight the battle of their lives. It should come as no surprise, then, that the queens of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars’ third season look phenomenal as comic book heroes.

Before he got into illustration full time, Cheyne Gallarde enjoyed a brief career as a drag queen, an avenue of expression that he’s since carried over into his artwork. When I spoke with Gallarde recently via e-mail, he explained that his passion for drag began long before he adopted a persona for himself—and it had a direct connection to his love of comics:

“It wasn’t until recently I realized how much I look up to those girls, very much the same way I admire Storm, Jean Grey, Poison Ivy, Wonder Woman, and many other fierce females in the comic book world. It seemed only natural to combine my geeky love for comics and my love of drag queens. Both are powerful and inspiring forces that are very much woven into the fabric of our culture today. “

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All-Stars season three winner Trixie Mattel.
Illustration: Cheyne Gallarde

Like many All Stars fans, Gallarde was rooting for Trixie Mattel to snatch the crown this season, but he expressed an appreciation for all the queens who are working to make drag a more highly-visible part of mainstream pop culture:

Drag is becoming more and more influential. I’m glad that more flavors of drag besides campy and glam are being shown. Drag is changing art, changing minds and changing lives. If anyone deserves comic books of themselves, it’s drag queens—they’re kinda real-life superheroes.

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We’re still a few days away from the premiere of Drag Race’s 10th season, but in the meantime, feast your eyes on all of Gallarde’s stunning art over on his Instagram page.