Comic, Lennon Sweets, 16 pgs, gumroad.com/lennonsweets, $15
Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, accceptance. The so-called five stages of grieving are an all too familiar refrain for many of us, but do they apply to other major changes in life? Lennon Sweets tried them on for size in this autobio comic about their gender realization and transition.
In doing so, they provide a series of intimate life snippets characterized by elation, confusion, self-doubt, and wonderful support from friends. Dropping wads of cash on suspender pants, tender check-ins about disordered eating, and ugly misgendering incidents each stand-in for the stages of grief. However, as Sweets notes, they are not necessarily linear stages, often crashing in on each other in strange ways.
This is a charming and helpful addition to a growing body of transition comics, and the writing and storyboarding show great care and talent. The cartooning is clean, easygoing and playful, and employs the character-driven, post-manga style that is pretty standard amongst this generation of North American comic zinesters. Printed in a thematically appropriate combination of blue and fluorescent pink Risograph inks, Sweets avoids colour layering, sticking to a few tints of each hue, the edges of shapes touching but never blending. It makes for unexpected choices, and a few awkward ones, but nailing blending is tricky for even the best Riso mavericks. The tight alignment and registration Sweets’ drawings achieve actually suggests that they might one day be a real whiz with illustrating for stencil printing, and props to whoever did the job, be it Sellers or a third party. In any case, this comic is perfectly clever and quirky, short though it may be. Well done.