Wednesday, September 19, 2018


Writer: Matt Hawkins, Jenni Cheung
Artist: Yishan Li
Published: August 29, 2018
Diamond ID: MAY180085
Age Rating: M

I'm trying to diversify my comic book reading. It truly is very easy for me to stick to my natural comfort zone in comics: horror, sci fi, post apocalyptic devastation and mayhem. Anything to satisfy my bloodlust. So I this week I started picking up books that look like something I would never read or enjoy. That's when I saw SUGAR. I didn't really like the cover, it screamed of romance novel and I typically despise everything romance related because I have such a hate on for cliches. SUGAR is 100% everything I would not buy or bother reading so... I read it. I actually liked it despite all it's problems. Let me tell you why but first, here's the skinny on SUGAR:

SUGAR is an original graphic novel that was published on August 9th 2018 by Image Comics. It's co-written by Matt Hawkins and Jenni Cheung and fully illustrated by Yishan Li. The book is appropriately named for two reasons 1) Sugar for sugar baby, a name given to generally young women who provide a gf experience to a man in exchange for a monetary allowance and gifts. 2) Sugar for the pet name used as a term of endearment to strangers, for instance something a waitress might say to a customer. 

When I said I don't like to read romance books for the most part because of cliches let me not mislead you into thinking that SUGAR is free of cliche. It's totally a cliche. The book follows a beautiful young girl, struggling to make enough money to pay her tuition and help her family who are down on their luck because of a horrible car accident. She ends up being a sugar baby in a very round about way and falling for the man who's paying for her companionship. It's Pretty Women for struggling, 23 year old white college girls everywhere... I guess. 

The whole book is problematic from the start because it gives the impression that we can only accept a woman being a sugar baby if she is 100% innocent, a hard worker, and through no fault of her own, in financial distress. The book tells us this in a number of ways while constantly playing up the righteousness of our main character Julia. For instance she repeatedly explains she is taking the money from sugar daddy John as a loan... that she will pay back.... right. This allows her to what? Keep her dignity and righteousness in the readers eyes? Does anyone else think that maybe the authors don't consider sex workers or sugar babies (if they can also be considered sex workers?) to be good people? Like maybe they look down on sex work? That's so forward thinking of them right? ugh.. let's continue.

Right in the beginning we meet the main characters roommate who apparently regularly brings different men home for sex. Although the main character isn't slut shaming her and almost admires her apparent sexual freedom, you still get the impression that we are suppose to see the roommate as a dirty, dirty whore (in comparison to Julia, the beacon of righteousness covering her face with a pillow on the couch). So the slut vs virgin type cliche? 

Let's continue to pile up the cliches then, Julia also tends bar at a club where the owner is known to grab and touch the female staff inappropriately and GUESS WHO jumps in to defend Julia when the owner smacks her butt behind the bar? YUP our love interest millionaire John. Okay so we got the White Knight cliche... 

It's not long before we find out that John is in emotional recovery from a rocky divorce. His mean, mean ex wife had an affair. She's awful isn't she? Just no one in this book who has a vagina is anywhere near as amazing and honest as Julia is. Don't you just relate to her? Anyway, Johns ex wife finds out about Julia who's FAR younger than she is and suddenly decides to come back into Johns life. Okay so we have the pitting women against each other cliche. To make it REALLY awesome the evil older woman against the sweet and demure, submissive 23 year old. 

So these are just a few cliches and despite these I don't actually think that the authors really look down on sex work but they aren't doing much to mitigate that view in the book. Despite this, I did enjoy reading the book. It was well written despite the cliches and bad political views... and despite even though I hated all the characters except the very practical roommate character. In the end they make her look "better" by showing her actually committing to someone because I guess that makes you a better person? There's so much to unpack in this graphic novel that I dunno if I even did it justice. I get that possibly super sexually oppressed people might like this story as a fantasy but the reality is lots of people do sex work and it doesn't make them bad people and WHY does Julia repeatedly yell at John that she's not a prostitute? That's just UGH. There's nothing wrong with being a sex worker. It's TWO THOUSAND AND BLOODY EIGHTEEN. 

Anyway I think that about wraps it up for this review. The only other item I can really say is that despite most of the art being quite polished (although it's really not my cup of tea), many of the characters suffer from some serious dead-eyedness. Lacking emotion at many points.. and it's mostly Julia just looking like she's had a lobotomy. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

ADVANCED COMIC BOOK REVIEW: Man Eaters #1 (Image Comics)

            I thought it was about time I started writing review articles again and why not start with something deviously named MAN EATERS. This is a new on-going series from New York Times bestselling thriller writer Chelsea Cain. This creator owned series is published by Image Comics and complete with expert interior illustration by artist Kate Niemczyk who has worked for everyone from Marvel to Dark Horse and yes even the game giant Blizzard. All the gutsy and glitsy cover art is by Lia Miternique who is a bit of newcomer to comics but not to design. 

So I bet you're wondering what a book about man eaters could be about. Well it's not about cannibals...exactly. Essentially in this story, the world is rocked by a new plague. In fact a mutation in Toxoplasmosis. Toxoplasmosis is something cat owners these days don't really concern themselves with. It is a disease caused by the parasite Toxoplasma gondii, which can be found in garden soil and raw meat. Cats can get toxoplasma infection by killing and eating infected prey. The disease can also be passed on from cats to humans. However in MAN EATERS the mutation causes menstruating women to turn into ferocious, killer wildcats. It has caused more than a few deaths. So many in fact that the government had to create a new task force to deal with the devastation. 

So what do I think about this debut killer issue? I think the idea is pretty fun and although it did remind me a bit of Cat People with Malcolm McDowell at first, it's a pretty far cry from the 80's thriller. It also doesn't seem to take itself too seriously which is a major pitfall of most thriller and horror stories lately. Without spoiling much of the story I have to ask however, why tampons?  Allow me to just go on a bloody tangent here. I totally get that tampons are a big symbol in this book because we're dealing with menstruating women who turn into human eating cats but WHY tampons? Is it because it's penetrative? Is it because pads and diva cups will confuse male readers? That seems a bit unlikely. 

So why tampons? I hate tampons. I could never get them to work, leaking little turds that were uncomfortable and prone to infecting a gal. Not to mention that the whole history of the tampon is still accredited to a man. The whole idea of plugging up your vagina was not invented by the guy who first patented the tampon. (Dr. Earle Haas Women have been sticking things up there to soak up blood since ancient Egypt but still a man gets credit for inventing the tampon... the world is really confusing.) Regardless I am left assuming that penetration is the point here not to mention the control a tampon (is suppose to lend). The whole story is pretty much society trying to control the sexual maturity of women... you know, exactly like society in real life. I'm not being sarcastic. That's how I actually look at the world and what I believe to be true. I think a lot of us see that as truth. Okay let's move away from tampons and deeply depressing reality faced by women during puberty. 

As for interior art, I think you're going to be pretty at home with this book if you're a Marvel comics fan. Niemczyk & Cain were responsible for the very celebrated and also very much attacked MOCKINGBIRD: My Feminist Agenda. Here like the artwork in Mockingbird, we have panels that are straight forward in their intention. It's easy to grasp what's happening in every panel, emotions are precise and clear. You don't have to guess who characters are half the time because they are easily distinguished from each other. Of course if you've read many of my reviews or watched my videos you know that one of my major pet peeves in the comic world is a book with a bunch of characters who all look the same.

MAN EATERS #1 is available in stores September 26th and I completely recommend you putting it on your pull list because it's quite a bit of fun.