GRAPHIC NOVELS

Love Letters to Jane's World

Lion Forge. 2018. 304p. ISBN 9781549302756. pap. $22.99. COMICS
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An LGBTQ sitcom with a large cast, Braddock's comic strip Jane's World has delivered chuckles of amusement and self-recognition for two decades. Jane is a sweet yet wishy-washy butch whose attempts at romance get humorously sidetracked by outlandish mishaps, endless talk about "feelings," attempts at self-improvement, good-natured assistance from former lovers plus friends of both sexes, and her overactive imagination. The openly lesbian Braddock ("Stinky Cecil" series) began the strip as a webcomic in the 1990s; it later became the first nationally syndicated comic with a lesbian protagonist. This collection excerpts the major plotlines, with interspersed commentary supplying context. Affectionate "love letters" to the strip appear throughout, some from comics luminaries and others from fans. Braddock's sketchy black-and-white inks seem effortlessly expressive in depicting both outrageous and humdrum situations while keeping the many characters distinct.
VERDICT Suggesting Alison Bechdel's Dykes To Watch Out For without the politics, Jane's World gently lampoons romance and gender stereotypes without rancor and can be enjoyed by all genders and orientations. With the complete run of the story collected and published by Braddock's Girl Twirl Comics, this overview offers a meaty omnibus for newbies and a binge read for aficionados.

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