Disclosure: I received Super Sexy Fun Times and Mooncakes for free through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Super Sexy Fun Times
by Meredith McClaren
Release Date: August 20th 2019
We love smutty fun! This is five stories following different relationships and the things they get up to in the bedroom.
I love how this collection explores loads of dynamics- for example, super villains, heroes and villains, civilians, etc. It’s a little look into what it’s like on the sex and romance side of their lives, it’s all very cute and sometimes domestic. Wet get insight into their powers and stories in the little panels at the end of each story, so we know more about the couples, and I really love that added feature.
I’m really adept at attaching myself to characters when I explicitly know the story is being told in short form, so I found it so easy loving the characters. ‘Freezer Burn’ made me cry with laughter, both his humour and when I found out his alias. I think Meredith McClaren has a lot of fun with these comics, and that comes across a lot in the characters.
There’s also really great art, with a very distinct style that brings to life the features of these characters that sets them apart. Even though it’s all done by the same writer/artist each comic feels like it’s got something different to it that makes the art and the story being told stand out. There’s a lot of great diversity, with different races, sexualities and gender identities, and I was absolutely over the moon to see a fat character having fun, too!
This also promotes healthy discussions of sex and BDSM within the bedroom, e.g. safe words, discussions of what makes people happy, things like that. There’s no kink shaming, and consent is intrinsic to all layers of every sexual encounter you see! A character is a virgin, and she’s honestly treated so kindly by her partner. There are also has mentions of monogamy and polyamory, and even though it’s not in depth, it was nice seeing it brought up and discussed without demonising polyamorous people and relationships.
Of course Jack, ‘Freezer Burn’ was my favourite, but I really liked Charlotte, who has spider powers. She unhinges her jaw and I honestly love her.
Highly recommend this! My heart feels so full after reading it.
Content Warning: Scarring, explicit sex
by Wendy Xu and Suzanne Walker
Release Date: October 15th 2019
Mooncakes is a Supernatural romance story following Nova and Tam, childhood best friends who meet each other again after several years apart and end up having to battle demons, nosey neighbourhood witches and their feelings for each other (but not really that last part).
To start off with: great diversity! Tam is a non-binary werewolf, and there’s brief misgendering that is quickly rectified and their identity is respected throughout and just made me so happy. Nova also has a hearing-aid and it’s brought up at certain points, but again, no disrespect is done, and it a natural part of her that is never treated harshly by any character, so no worries about any of that. She also uses her hearing aid to knock someone out at one point, which was so cool.
There was almost a pencil-sketch feel to the art. I can’t explain what I mean, exactly, but I really like it, and the colouring feels quite muted compared to a lot of the vibrant block colours I see in other graphic novels with a focus on a more realistic, natural style, which I really love. It helps ground the magical elements, especially the spirits- my favourite part of this- and makes them seem as if they are alive and real in our world. It would be interesting to learn more about this world, as witches and general supernatural stuff seem to be known of and accepted, but I can’t be sure. I mean, there’s a character with a pigeon head, so I would think it’s known about?
I like how big a part friendship and family play in the background of the story, too. We see Tam’s complicated upbringing, distant from their parents, with the divorce of their parents and difficult relationship with their mum now due to their stepdad. There’s also Nova’s larger, more tight-knit family, which has been struck by its fair share of grief but she has learnt to cope with it. It’s not the main focus, but grief and family difficulties are touched upon, and it’s a very moving look that became one of my favourite parts of the narrative.
One of my main issues was that, besides not being into the plot as much as expected, I wasn’t really attached to the romance. It was cute, but it felt like they moved so quickly from the reemergence of childhood crushes to dating that my head spun. The development was instant, almost. It would’ve had more of an impact if we saw more moments of them as children together leading up to the feelings being fully acted upon, just so we saw more of where those feelings stemmed from.
Overall, a very sweet supernatural story that I would recommend for people who may be newer to the genre, especially in graphic novel form!
Content Warning: misgendering, violence, loss of a parent
by Brenna Thummler
Sheets , for me, is a very personal read.
Reading this, my chest ached, and not in a good way, but in a oh-no-this-feels-too-real way. It’s so sad. It’s about death and grief, explores the concept of ghosts and belonging, and how even in death you can find yourself lonely and unable to find others like yourself. There’s a flashback scene on a school trip that broke me immediately, because of its context within little tidbits of information you know about characters, and I was deeply moved by the exploration of loneliness. Two individuals come together in different times, in different ways, and offer an opportunity of feeling wanted, even if it does take some time to get there.
Wendell and Marj’s voices felt real. They were distinct, with different motives. Wendell’s voice feels younger, immature, but it’s so intentional as a coping mechanism for the trauma he’s experienced. Marj’s voice is quiet, so so timid and frightened of being out in the world, and it was difficult to read from her point of view at times because I could see myself so much in her character. The shot of the two of them at the end, where he hands her the cookie? Made me cry. Their development is so gradual and careful, even if it is in such a short graphic novel, and it never feels rushed.
The art is very pretty. The colours are muted, realistic, but even then there’s a stark contrast between the ghosts world, very dull, almost feeling dead, and the more full-of-life ‘alive’ world that has parts that make it just that bit more vibrant and like our own. It’s the little details that bring it to life. Wendell, too, seems to fit in the ‘alive’ world, with the marks and dirt on his sheets, in comparison to the pristine nature of the other ghosts, and I think it’s a nice touch that adds more depth to his character and the theme of belonging.
My main issue is that it feels like there’s a lack of development for side characters. The plot moves very quickly in some parts, that limits the emotional weight of interactions and plot points, especially with the romance. It felt like it was there for the sake of having a way to make Marj come out as ‘superior’, in a way, a retaliation against the stereotypical mean girl character who doesn’t have much substance to her character. There’s just not enough development to some side characters to make their position within the narrative authentic and needed.
I could spend an essay breaking the art and themes of this graphic novel down, looking at the meanings behind this story, which is why I’m making the decision to leave this book without a rating. It really did touch me, and I love that in a story, especially one that takes on an unconventional coming-of-age narrative.
Content Warning: grief, dead character, child death (talked about in some detail, but never shown), mention of young person being hit by a train
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