A lushly illustrated comic that explores bisexuality, queer culture, and unconventional sex through the upbeat story of a...



In this graphic novel, the simple story of two weeks in the life of a young woman provides insights into the complexities of polyamorous relationships.

Away from her New York home and boyfriend while visiting her parents in Portland, Oregon, for the holidays, Hazel feels a little insecure walking into a queer dance party on her own. But her nervousness disappears when she makes a connection with the warm and friendly Argent, a lesbian sex worker, whose dominatrix handle just happens to be Hazel. As flirting turns into affection, Hazel tells Argent about Gregor, a New York graphic artist with whom she has an open relationship (“We’re open, or poly, or whatever”). Hazel is equally honest with Gregor, who, between phone calls and Skype sessions with her, is enjoying a visit from his other girlfriend, Rebecca. While Hazel seems calm about this situation, she confesses to Gregor at one point: “I’m irrationally worried you’ll ditch me for her.” Negotiating the fine line between attraction and jealousy, Hazel ultimately manages to accomplish the tricky feat of launching a loving bond with Argent while strengthening her connection with Gregor. Newlevant’s (If This Be Sin, 2013, etc.) vivid illustrations show the clear influence of Japanese manga style, with its stylized portrayal of facial features and character poses. The author’s subtly colored panels are attractively detailed, and her characters are well-drawn, both literally and figuratively. Hazel’s innocent idealism and Argent’s sexy warmth are conveyed in dialogue, body language, and costumes (the bunny romper Argent wears for her birthday date with Hazel being a prime example). Their nontraditional relationships are presented in a straightforward manner as both normal and successful. In fact, the major thing missing from their story is convincing narrative tension. Hazel’s moments of jealousy and anxiety are brief and easily overcome, and Argent and Gregor seem almost too open and accepting to be true. Hazel’s up-close encounter with Argent’s dominatrix side ends with pain medication and cuddles but little insight into the passions that draw lovers into sadomasochistic play. But the comic format is especially appropriate for providing a peek into alternative romance, and Hazel’s story is a sweet and positive look at youthful experimentation.

A lushly illustrated comic that explores bisexuality, queer culture, and unconventional sex through the upbeat story of a woman’s vacation romance.

Pub Date: Oct. 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-68148-587-4

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Alternative Comics

Review Posted Online: Jan. 22, 2018

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A sugarcoated but undiluted vehicle for schooling American readers about their rights and responsibilities.



A searching interpretation of that sonorous document the Constitution, with cartoons.

Why have a Constitution to begin with? Because, remarks film and TV writer Hennessey—who, even if his prose is bound by balloons, turns out to be quite the Constitutional scholar—the founding fathers were keenly aware that civil rights were never formally written down in Britain, “and that deeply troubled the framers.” That’s as much of an establishing conflict as is needed for a superhero piece, and Hennessey, paired with artist McConnell, does a fine job of turning the making of the document, despite all the dull stretches in the Constitutional Convention that James Madison recorded in his diary, into a drama. Happily, Hennessey is aware of the truly radical origins of the Constitution, even as he notes its conservative strains. For example, he remarks that the system of checks and balances is a remarkable innovation, even if it sometimes seems that presidential actions—as with military intervention in Vietnam and elsewhere—go unchecked. In addition, laws are difficult to make in this country for very good reason: “Otherwise we might get too many of them.” Combining words and appropriate images, sometimes comic and sometimes earnest, the narrative visits such matters as the three-fifths law of determining apportionment, the writ of habeas corpus, eminent domain and conceptions of property and freedom of assembly and movement (for instance, the Articles of Federation forbade “vagabonds and paupers” from crossing state lines). Also covered are the many guarantees Americans take for granted—not least the Ninth Amendment, which states that certain rights not enumerated (“The right to scratch a dog behind the ears?”) shall not be denied.

A sugarcoated but undiluted vehicle for schooling American readers about their rights and responsibilities.

Pub Date: Oct. 21, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-8090-9487-5

Page Count: 142

Publisher: Hill and Wang/Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2008

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Playfully drawn and provocatively written, the memoir reinforces Bell's standing among the first rank of the genre’s artists.


“Graphic memoir” only hints at the artistry of a complex, literary-minded author who resists the bare-all confessionalism so common to the genre and blurs the distinction between fiction and factual introspection.

Who are “The Voyeurs?” In the short, opening title piece, they are a mixed-gender group standing on an urban rooftop, watching a couple have sex through a window in a nearby building. They tend to find the experience “uncomfortable,” even “creepy,” though those who remain raptly silent may well be more interested, even titillated. Bell (Lucky, 2006, etc.) is also a voyeur of sorts, chronicling the lives of others in significant detail while contemplating her own. As she admits before addressing an arts class in frigid Minneapolis, where she knows the major interest will be on how she has been able to turn her comics into a career, “I feel I need to disclaim this ‘story.’ I set myself the task of reporting my trip, though there’s not much to it, and I can’t back out now. It’s my compulsion to do this, it’s my way, I suppose, of fighting against the meaninglessness constantly crowding in.” The memoir encompasses travels that take her from Brooklyn to Los Angeles and from Japan to France, while addressing the challenges of long-distance relationships, panic attacks, contemporary feminism, Internet obsessiveness, the temptation to manipulate life to provide material for her work, and the ultimate realization, in the concluding “How I Make My Comics,” of her creative process: “Then I want to blame everyone I’ve known ever for all the failures and frustrations of my life, and I want to call someone up and beg them to please help me out of this misery somehow, and when I realize how futile both these things are I feel the cold, sharp sting of the reality that I’m totally and utterly alone in the world. Then I slap on a punchline and bam, I’m done.”

Playfully drawn and provocatively written, the memoir reinforces Bell's standing among the first rank of the genre’s artists.

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-9846814-0-2

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Uncivilized Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2012

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