Gumballs by Erin Nations. Top Shelf, 2018. 9781603094313. 160pp.
Reprints Gumballs #1 – #4 plus some additional material.
Nations’ mostly autobiographical comics vary in length from a single, page-sized panel to multipage vignettes. His square-jawed characters (and he himself) are at their best when expressing their awkwardness. If you’ve heard anything about this book, it’s probably that Nations is transgender, and it’s worth noting (because it’s at the heart of his story), but so is the fact that he’s a triplet. This isn’t a one-note After School Special of a book — it has so much more to relate to, like “The Indecisive Cat,” “Things That Scared the Shit Out Of Me When I Was A Kid” (including both Max Headroom and Carol Anne in the original Poltergeist movie), and the awkward personal ads scattered throughout (Candace, I’m ready to hang out and play board games). The comics are great, particularly the colors and pacing, and they did make me reflect a little more on my own social awkwardness and, of course, all of the things I don’t have to worry about as a cisgender, heterosexual white dude.
I hope some of those extra pages include more personal ads!