Alice in Leatherland #1-4
Alice, a young writer of children’s story books, is hurtled out of her fairytale-like life when she discovers her girlfriend has been cheating on her! Charmingly defiant, she leaves her small forest town and leaps into a new adventure to seek love (and find herself) in the fast life of San Francisco. There, her concept of pure, magical love will be completely overturned–but her biggest challenge won’t be reckoning with other people’s sexual drive, it’ll be getting a grip on her own!
Alice in Leatherland is a delight in fun, playful, emotionally intense page after page, and I got sucked to it right from the start. And I do have to say I started reading it with somewhat ambivalent feelings towards the premise: if I had to chose one fairytale to become the blueprint of a character’s exploration with sexuality, Alice in Wonderland would not be my first choice, and I can guess that I’m not the only one, based on the cultural place Alice occupies and the controversies around it. So, I was kind of coming to the book from a suspicious, distant, icky place… and honestly, that didn’t matter at all. Once I started the first page and Alice starts the tell-tale of her firefly adventures, paralleled by her own setup drama and the back-and-forth date-storylines of her and her ‘coworker’ Robin, the pieces matched together and danced around in my head like stars in the sky.
The art here is expressive, with beautiful realism embedded in each page, while there is room for exaggeration, breathing, crying…, all through Elisa Romboli’s perfectly detailed lines, that seem as comfortable with the quirkiness of everyday jokes as with sensual and intimate setups. And to round up, the detailed sepia coloring and shading reminds me of the best of Tillie Walden’s work.
But it’s not only how this story is perfectly told by the visuals and carrying you through a carousel of emotions, it’s that Iolanda Zanfardino’s scripts flow with the story in such an intimate and natural way, that you really feel the emotions of these two stubborn obviously-mutual-crush girls exploring dating apps messiness. And that realism and closeness of the story, far from making it mundane, gives the back-and-forth and the ridiculousness of the dates and the sex scenes more excitement, anticipation, thrill to the reader. Specially if you’re also a queer woman, and I absolutely mean that as a compliment, cause Alice in Leatherland knows its audience.
From the absolutely impromptu amazing Pride parade in issue #2 to the absurd dating app stories on issues #3 and #4, and the way Robin and Alice wait for each others’ texts in a really adorable and clumsy way, I saw and felt a lot of myself in this book as a queer woman. With Alice in Leatherland, my main complaint would be how I want to see more of certain aspects as we move forward, specifically more of the chosen family dynamic that is forming between Alice and her flatmates, and more exploration of polyamory and what it means for this book.
But, clearly, all of that is a caveat for what I feel has been, so far as these 4 issues go, an exceptionally deep and refreshing exploration of two queer women’s desires, emotions, feelings, with a delightfully queer supporting cast that makes me interested in every character. And the story really reaches a sweet point by the end of issue #4 that feels both closure and an opening up of possibilities for both of these characters. I couldn’t be more excited to read more of it.
Alice in Leatherland is approaching its main storyline, a first-person look into a couple of queer women’s exploration of their sexuality and sapphic dating, with all the tools necessary for making this an fun but deep trip: ridiculous exaggeration mixes up with emotional depth, there’s space for sadness, laughter, longing, confusion and relief. Good luck with not getting absolutely absorbed by this comic!
Alice in Leatherland #1-4: An Absolute Match (Advanced Review)
Writing - 10/1010/10
Storyline - 9/109/10
Art - 10/1010/10
Color - 9/109/10
Cover Art - 9.5/109.5/10
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