GRAPHIC NOVELS

When I Came Out

SelfMadeHero. Oct. 2020. 144p. ISBN 9781910593912. pap. $22.99. GRAPHIC NOVELS
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DEBUT Little Louise announces, “I want to marry Laura.” Granny corrects her: “Girls don’t marry girls, they marry boys.” So later Louise marries the doting Peter, yielding a perfect family with four kids and a cat. But old fires rekindle when the forty-something wife meets former schoolmate Laura again and finds herself ogling other women, too, including the couples therapist she’s seeing with Peter. Debuting as a cartoonist with this fictionalized memoir, architect/activist Lorentzen deploys visual metaphors, panel design, and pacing with great skill. Louise appears as a timid humanlike rabbit, other characters as different animals. Two sexually aggressive lesbians are drawn as a wolf and crocodile; Louise’s best friend is an asexual-seeming bear. Backgrounds are minimal, colors range from green and pink-to-red spectrums with fine effect—Louise’s genitalia whisper to her in red lettering on pink splotches. A parallel subplot intercuts the personal coming-out tsunami with her mother’s worsening dementia. Indeed, Louise’s biggest challenge is coming out to her parents.
VERDICT Both poignant and funny, Louise’s life-changing decision to leave her marriage and live as a lesbian evokes the classic coming-of-age tale, skewed older yet still universal. A readalike for fans of Tee Franklin’s Bingo Love.
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