I could be a serious mini-comic junkie if more of them were available locally. One of the major pleasures of SPX was being able to gorge myself on them and discover the work of creators like Bill Burg, Justin Hall, and Raina Telgemeier.
Another SPX encounter popped up in my in-box when I got an e-mail from Bill Roundy offering me a copy of his new mini-comic, Man Enough: a queer romance. It’s a really charming date comedy that makes excellent use of the short-story format.
Man Enough begins with David and Ethan meeting at a party. They flirt, connect, and make a date, even though David is a bit startled by the fact that Ethan is a pre-operative female-to-male transsexual. They chat with friends about the impending date, disguising their mutual infatuation with low expectations.
The date itself consumes much of the book. David’s instant attraction to Ethan is at odds with his preconceptions about what he’s looking for in a romantic partner. Ethan just wants to enjoy the evening without the hassle of playing “Trans 101 educator.”
It’s a nice conundrum for the characters, but Man Enough happily emphasizes the romantic elements. David and Ethan’s preconceptions and defenses fall away as the date progresses, and their initial connection overcomes their individual anxieties. It’s sweet, funny, and uplifting without being the slightest bit preachy.
Roundy has a wonderful way with dialogue and pacing. David and Ethan are both vivid characters, and there’s a really nice balance to the way they’re portrayed individually and together. Roundy isn’t as good an illustrator as he is a writer, but he does nice work with facial expressions. They really help sell the emotional arc and the individual beats.
Man Enough is a really fine example of one of the things a mini-comic creator can do – flesh out a quirky, personal story in a short format without losing any of the emotional layers. I liked it a lot.
(Man Enough: a queer romance will debut at the Alternative Press Expo April 8 and 9. It also features a full-color back-up strip written by Roundy and illustrated by Tim Fish, originally published by Young Bottoms in Love at www.popimage.com.)