Jun 9, 2018
The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 1200: Real Girl #4, September 1992
Let's dip back into the underground for a day. For the longest time I've had Real Girl filed in my collection with the adult comics, but, having now read an issue, I'm not sure that's where it belongs. Though quite explicit, the comic is not, as far as I can tell, attempting to arouse its audience. Instead, these are sex stories that are about how sex informs our lives, decisions, and identities. Having said this, many of the stories by female creators are none too kind to men, with good reason of course. The comic is explicitly anti-patriarchal, and very, very angry.
Things get quite experimental too. There's one strip in which the antagonists of the piece are collage creatures made out of pictures of penises. Quite disturbing, actually, but when bearing in mind the narrative detailing with the male gaze and rape culture and abortion protestors, the addition of a disturbing visual definitely enhances the distaste with which we view such attitudes and practices.
Like I said, not your typical sex comic.
The other nice thing about this comic is that it lives up to the tag line on the cover. There's a great variety of gender identities represented in the stories, and this mixture nicely demonstrates the sorts of similarities and differences we experience in navigating sexuality depending on our identities. And really that's what writing and literature is all about. I suggest this to my students right at the start of our classes, that literature allows us to see both the similarities and differences with other human beings, sometimes those long dead. It works the same for gender identity - stories like these allow us to recognize ourselves in others, and also to recognize the things that set us apart.
More to come...