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Fine : a comic about gender
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Publishers Weekly Review
In Ewing's ambitious debut, they conduct and draw dozens of interviews over a decade to chart the murky waters of gender. The scope demonstrates the diversity of experiences and personal relationships to gender within the trans community; some participants hold concrete ideas, while others describe gender and its performance as "loose" and celebrate its contradictions and complexities. Portraits include such folks as Black trans tomboy Monei and Ignacio, a two-spirit person who complicates Ewing's perspective on race. The author also spotlights cis-identified perspectives and how they're not spared gender's social ramifications, either. Each section (titled "Masculinity," "Expression," "Body Feelings," and so forth) opens with an expressionistic, tone-setting splash page, and the portraiture art is clean-lined but nuanced enough to handle the diversity of characters. Ewing's initial interviews concluded by 2018, and several participants reflect on how their positions may have shifted over the interim. But much of the subject matter is evergreen, such as navigating being trans and a person of color in America, the complicated decisions that often surround hormone therapy, and the problems with how queer communities police themselves. This thought-provoking work will appeal to those seeking a robust, personal exploration of how gender shapes lives. Agent: Anjali Singh, Ayesha Pande Literary. (Apr.)
Booklist Review
Ewing's series of interviews about gender, the basis of this graphic novel, began as a summer project to better understand their own relationship with gender and perhaps create a small zine. Over the next decade, it grew into a wondrous tapestry of personal reflections and meditations on how people view subjects like gender, masculinity, femininity, and community, as well as how they navigate societal obstacles and oppression. Woven around the interviews is Ewing's own account of coming out as nonbinary, ending with their wedding and how this project was instrumental to discovering how to be comfortable in their own skin. While Ewing's interviews all took place in the Midwest, interviewees originally hailed from across the country and include teens and seniors, white people and people of color, cisgender and transgender folks, straight people and LGBTQ+ people. Ewing's art beautifully reflects the individuality and wishes of their subjects, whether it's the joy of a man talking about his children deciding to call him Mapa as he transitioned, the confidence of someone who wanted to be drawn as a superheroine, or the anger of a young activist at the inequity of the world. Recommended for everyone who cares about better understanding the complicated, varied, gorgeous mess that is gender.
Kirkus Review
A graphic narrative project on the multifaceted nature of gender. In 2012, graphic artist Ewing, then a recent college graduate, joined a transgender support group to "speak honestly about this mixed-up thing called gender, to exist without a sense that I was failing at my part in life." After finding online resources too impersonal, the author began interviewing friends about gender and reaching out to LGBTQ+ centers for assistance. The intent was to understand their own gender ambivalence through the perspectives of others and figure out "why I am cut out of some spaces and invited into others." In their debut book, Ewing offers a timely, educative, and vividly rendered illustrated portrait. Based in the Midwest, Ewing spoke with more than 50 individuals varying in gender, age, and race, and the narrative includes those remarkable stories, which evolve as the book progresses. Many of these experiences began with unsettling episodes of gender dysphoria and the search for "clarity and control over how others saw me." The author deftly assembles the most resonant responses, showing the participants generously discussing how gender is interconnected with race, culture, and sexuality; how it moves far beyond conventional masculine and feminine designations; and how embracing fluidity can be liberating and transformative regardless of social norms of appearance and behavior, many of which are constrictive and damaging. Ewing ably explores the complexities and difficulties of expressing gender in terms of sexuality, health care, visibility, language, and bathroom choices, and the elegant graphic format affords the author ample room to develop their themes visually. Ewing presents a uniquely straightforward, unembellished amalgam of narrative and illustration, smoothly braided with their own personal journey. The instructive yet never heavy-handed narrative boldly shows how identity is intimately interpreted and how connections with others can fortify perceptions and perspectives. A vital, richly textured resource for anyone seeking a better understanding of gender identity. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
As graphic artist Rhea Ewing neared college graduation in 2012, they became consumed by the question: What is gender? This obsession sparked a quest in which they eagerly approached both friends and strangers in their quiet Midwest town for interviews to turn into comics. A decade later, this project exploded into a sweeping portrait of the intricacies of gender expression with interviewees from all over the country. Questions such as ?How do you Identify? produced fiercely honest stories of dealing with adolescence, taking hormones, changing pronouns?and how these experiences can differ, often drastically, depending on culture, race, and religion. Amidst beautifully rendered scenes emerges Ewing's own story of growing up in rural Kentucky, grappling with their identity as a teenager, and ultimately finding themself through art?and by creating something this very fine. Tender and wise, inclusive and inviting, Fine is an indispensable account for anyone eager to define gender in their own terms.
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