Friday, December 23, 2016

Review - Gumballs #1 (@topshelfcomix)


Everyone eventually comes to terms with who they are. Sometimes it's an easy journey, but other times it's one rife with conflict and opposition. Gumballs #1 from Top Shelf Comix is a tale of one such struggle. The issue is written and illustrated by Erin Nations.

Erin serves up a delicious variety of stories: recollections of growing up as a triplet, interactions with oddball grocery-store customers, the adventures of clueless dork Tobias, painfully funny faux Personal Ads, and "Tales of Being Trans"-reflections on Erin's true-life journey of gender transition.

To say that Gumballs #1 is an exercise in self-reflection would be an understatement. Nations infuses a lot of raw emotion in Gumballs #1 that's reflective of a very trying life that has forced adapting--both internally and externally. Nations' personal struggles imbues the book with a healthy dose of reality--hardships that can be scaled somewhat to different plights. There are points where the book feels something like a stream of conscious presentation of different facets and times of Nations' life that has clearly stood out. And the varied cast of characters serve as touchstones for the reader to better understand the exact plight that Nations is attempting to describe to the reader.

Accompanying the script is Nations' somewhat erratic artwork style. That's not to say that it's bad, but it definitely has a crude feel to it that underscores the relative simplicity of Nations' struggles in his mind. Nations does an excellent job of honing in on the core of why things were so difficult growing up and the simple artwork backs up this assertion. That's not to say that the struggle itself wasn't easy and there are some moments where the artwork reminds the reader that conflicts did arise and were difficult. The colors chosen are minimal throughout and pretty basic.

Gumballs #1 is an interesting collection of short stories that chronicle some of the more trying aspects of Nations' life. Each story ranges between one and a few pages, presenting different aspects of what has surely been a trying existence. Nations' script is a recitation of thoughts and feelings that gives the reader a tale to empathize with. Nations' artwork is basic in a way that allows the story to do the talking, effectively adding a bit of levity to an otherwise complex tale. Gumballs #1 is a great look at a life that probably as harrowing as it was liberating.

Gumballs #1 is available now.

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