At the risk of revealing his closeted sexuality and artistic talent, a Texas wallflower combats small minds.
Adrian Piper dresses to hide. Innocuous palette, faded jeans, a hoodie: disappearing = safety at Rock Hollow High, where Bubbas with a penchant for pickups and longnecks are the dominant species. Adrian’s escape from aggressive heteronormativity is “the feel of a 3B pencil skimming across the paper’s surface.” The result of said skimming: a gay superhero named Graphite with a flair for Renaissance couture and a longing for love. (Adrian’s artwork as drawn by Linn peppers the pages.) Outside of artwork, Adrian finds comfort in two close friends, outspoken Audrey and goth Trent (both know Adrian’s secrets). When outwardly gay and not-so-invisible Kobe is brutally attacked by a brutish football star, Adrian risks exposing his own identity to intervene. Identifying as LGBTQ can force accelerated maturity: allegiances shift, social repercussions abound, and the hopeful search for others like you begins. All of these waves of evolution are braved as Adrian morphs from timid shadow to burgeoning Norma Rae. A diverse landscape (white, black, Protestant, Jewish, plus-size, skinny, middle class, wealthy) is robust rather than a flat reaction to pleads for diversity. A definite draw for comic-book fans, it will resonate with anyone struggling with a concealed or revealed identity.
More defiant than its superhero’s diaphanous costume portends. Bravo. (Fiction. 12-18)