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‘Gumballs’ GN (review)

Written and Illustrated by Erin Nations
Published by Top Shelf Productions


Top Shelf continues to publish some of the more interesting comic books out there.

Every book I read from them is different from the last. And they publish the most diverse comics in the field. Their Gumballs collection includes the first four issues and has 32 pages of new content. So it has a good variety of strips in it.

This is a personal comic for Nations but one that isn’t at all pretentious. This collection covers a whole bunch of different stories that have to do with Nations and his transitioning into a transsexual man. It’s a very brave work that doesn’t always work, but when it does it hits home.

The strips that are less successful for me in this are the incidental ones.

We have strips showing Nations working at a grocery store and it shows the tedium involved. It feels like we read that strip before elsewhere. The same thing with strips like the one Nations talks about hating talking on the phone. They are relatable sure, but they don’t exactly wow.

When Nations goes personal though, this book really takes off. The strips about gender confirmation and Nations’ inner thoughts are strong and poignant without ever being syrupy. Thus, they are incredibly heartfelt and unique.

While Nations discovers his identity so does the book, and that’s where the focus should have been. When it moves away from that, I cared a little less and tuned out a bit.

The art is expressive and shows the emotions of the pieces easily. It’s a style I haven’t seen from a comic artist before and I quite dug it. This is a decent book with some flaws for sure. It’s also well worth your time seeking it out. With some work, Nations could be a major league cartoonist. Let’s hope.


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