Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Best Reads of 2014: Comic Books - Justin Hall's No Straight Lines

No Straight Lines: Four Decades of Queer Comics edited by Justin Hall
Fantagraphics Books, 2012
No Straight Lines is no guys-in-tights escapade, but realism writ large. Editor Justin Hall pulls from dozens of sources, both artists and writers, portraying queer life, and the whole spectrum therein. Here readers will find portrayals of everything from gay single men bar-hopping to people enduring the height of the HIV/AIDs crisis of the 1980s to lesbian folk festival-goers experiencing burn-out to transsexuals trying to make the next step. No Straight Lines left me breathless. My only qualm was that Hall could only sample a little of everything. The result is an eclectic buffet of form and style and voice from the past 40 years of queer portrayal in comic books. Sometimes it is not enough of one thing. Nonetheless, Hall proves there is an overwhelming breadth of visions out there that have and continue to portray realism, instead of only escapism, in comics. Please don’t misunderstand methere’s nothing wrong with escapism and super heroics. However, as the man said, the man being Scott McCloud, comic artist and writer (author of Understanding Comics and Reinventing Comics), reading super hero comics is like eating chocolate cake. And you don’t want to eat only chocolate cake your whole life, do you? Better to have a smorgasbord of flavours and foods. And, as it turns out, editor Justin Hall is just the chef to introduce new foods to you.

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