by Damon Suede
Dream Spinner Press
Trip Spencer is a semi-successful cartoonist working in the postmodern superhero genre, and by successful I mean he eats on a regular basis and has an apartment with a door that locks. He nurses a crush on his boss Cliff but remains intimidated and not sure how to proceed. It's not so much a question of sexual orientation but rather the simple fear of looking foolish while experiencing the burn of rejection, never mind the awkwardness of an office relation in an "office" is not much larger than an allegorical closet. Then there's the hunky Silas Goolsby, Trip bumped into him at a Zombie-themed road race, they date but here's the bottom line: gay romance is every bit as awkward and uncertain as what straight people experience. Trip is surrounded by a geeky support network, nearly everyone he intersects with wears a costume on the weekend, religiously attends the opening of any Marvel movie, and boasts high but unhealthy video game scores. The subtext here is if you can't be accepted in high school you can go on to make your own friendly universe once they jail break you. And even better? You're open to the creation of your own ideal world, complete with thought bubbles and spandex accouterments. Trip has a plan, though, he's building a new universe, and the working title is An Extremely Graphic Novel. That ought to get Cliff's attention
Mr. Suede handles the geeky relational anxiety with a deft hand, but what kept me turning his pages was the clever writing. He's adept at capturing the smallest moment: "She put the Fresca on the coffee table. He fought an impulse to put a coaster under the glass." Suede's attention to these microscopic dead-pan moments make this more than a prurient romp, this world is filled with real people who spill drinks and lose phone numbers, people who might become slightly happier or slightly lonelier, and regardless if you'd date any the them, they can easily become your fictional best friends. Damon Suede is writing the romance novels of our brave new world, he's the Jane Austin of the twenty-first century.