A story with potential that’s unfortunately marred by blatant racial stereotyping.

THE LONESOME ERA

The tricky dance of coming out and coming-of-age.

Camden is a cat, an astronomy enthusiast, and totally into his best monkey friend, Jeremiah. Camden is only comfortable writing about his attraction within a journal (one that his sister eventually finds, hinting that she knows and is very supportive). An encounter with an out rabbit selling T-shirts at a death metal concert nudges Camden toward a more open approach to living. He eventually kisses Jeremiah (blaming it on the dreadful cocktails they guzzle in the basement) and is also kissed by a girl who mistakes Camden’s politeness as flirtation. Camden ultimately finds his stride as a gay cat, even if he starts by mangling his ankle in a winceworthy accident. A slather of well-placed, well-paced humor (death by exploding testicles, barfing up hot dogs gone bad) gives some relatable grit and grime that make this less out-and-proud proselytizing and more slice-of-life hilarity. Unfortunately, the aggressive, lascivious, delinquent, drug-dealing, casually homophobic character of Jeremiah reflects negative tropes of black people thinly veiled by the form of an anthropomorphized monkey. The black-and-white illustrations in this compact graphic novel feature heavy lines and simple cartoon-style images that evoke the retro 1990s setting.

A story with potential that’s unfortunately marred by blatant racial stereotyping. (Graphic humor. 14-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-945820-38-0

Page Count: 424

Publisher: Iron Circus Comics

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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Haunting, beautiful, and complex.

SUNCATCHER

Pimienta’s debut is a graphic novel set in Mexicali, Mexico, where music is life and—for a brief moment—life threatening.

High schooler Beatriz Ana Garza has played guitar in a few bands. Her love of music comes from her grandfather Tata Mario, a former musician whose declining health leads, after long decline, to his death in the hospital. While emptying her Tata’s belongings from his home, Beatriz discovers her grandfather’s soul is trapped inside his Gibson guitar. Tata’s spirit explains that years ago he made a trade with an Indigenous Yaqui man he met while traveling in Sonora, gaining musical talent but forfeiting the ability to finish writing the song that has haunted and eluded him; only her playing it in its entirety will set him free. Determined to liberate Tata’s soul, Beatriz joins a band and becomes obsessed with completing the song. Together with her new band mates, she begins to riff and write music. Chronicled in a nonlinear fashion with intermittent flashbacks, the dynamic illustrations pan Beatriz’s bedroom, concert venues, garage rehearsal space, and Mexicali streets. Awash in shades of purple and yellow, with splashes of pink and orange, they convey the 1990s setting and help readers feel the music. Refreshingly, colloquial Spanish greetings and nods to Baja California landmarks pepper the pages of the story, immersing readers in the northern Mexican city.

Haunting, beautiful, and complex. (author’s note, glossary, Mexicali info) (Graphic fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12482-6

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: March 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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A tsunami of emotions—sharp and heavy.

ARE YOU LISTENING?

Two women on the run from their pasts travel across west Texas.

Eighteen-year-old Bea runs away from home without a plan except escaping—until she crosses paths with 27-year-old Lou at a gas station on the way out of town. They share the same need to get away from all the people they know. Together, they embark on a road trip to Lou’s great-aunt’s house in San Angelo and then to return a lost cat to a mysterious town called West. However, the dark and foreboding Office of Road Inquiry pursues them in search of the cat in their possession. Walden (On a Sunbeam, 2018, etc.) crafts a story rich in metaphor about two gay women on a journey through trauma and grief. The unpredictable, shifting landscape in which lakes appear and roads change course encapsulates the treacherous and nonlinear path of healing. Complex panel layouts in dark tones and moody reds often bleed together, and stretches of silent art fit the heaviness of the tone. Background characters whose eyes are hidden add to the rising sense of anxiety throughout the story. In the midst of this intense atmosphere, Lou and Bea develop a moving bond and deep trust that allow Bea to open up to Lou. The resolution offers hope that both characters will continue to heal. Characters appear to be white.

A tsunami of emotions—sharp and heavy. (Graphic novel. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-20756-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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