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Mixed Media: Graphic novels

Mixed Media

My Brother’s Husband by Gengoroh Tagame (Blackfriars Books, ISBN 978 0 349 13457 4)

Chunky, hairy and cuddly Canadian, Mike Flanagan turns up at the door of Yiachi, a divorcee who is bringing up his young daughter, Kana. Mike declares that he is the widower of Yiachi’s estranged gay twin brother. What follows in this remarkable and delightful graphic novel is the story of how Yiachi has to rethink his assumptions about what makes a family, about sexuality, and about how he treated his late brother. Leading him in his painful and difficult education is his sparky and perceptive young daughter, Kana. Manga artist Gengoroh Tegame’s spare but deftly expressive style, captures the nuances in a stunning and highly imaginative way. Feelings and states of minds are conveyed with the simplest of lines, shifts of perspective, angle, proportion. So is the social context and attitudes towards sexual non-conformity in contemporary Japan. Moving, sometimes hilarious – and simply brilliant.

★★★★★ VB

What does consent really mean? by Pete Wallis and Thalia Wallis, illustrated by Joseph Wilkins (Singing Dragon, ISBN 978 1 84819 330 7)

A teenage girl is raped. Four of her peers respond in diverse ways. Some repeat the harsh words appearing on social media – the girl must have deserved it; she must have been drunk. Others challenge this view.

‘What is consent anyway?’ asks one in this lively graphic novel, aimed at a teenage market. This leads the friends to reflect upon their own experiences and interactions, a conversation that soon also involves the teenage boys they know, to explore the pressures of gender and sexual expectations. Effective, realistic, didactic – but with a light touch and a welcome (racial and sexual, though the latter only hinted at) diversity. The take-away message is that consent is a loud and enthusiastic ‘yes’, not the absence of ‘no’. Spot on.

★★★★ VB

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