Friday, December 15, 2023

45 Days Of CCS, #15: Kit Anderson and Andy Lindquist

Kit Anderson is one of the most interesting artists to emerge from CCS in recent years, as she's been doing visually innovative and clever comics with unusual themes. Anderson's comics often focus on the relationship between memory, character, and a sense of place. Their House (a MICE mini-grant winner) is very much about this. The unnamed narrator (presumably Anderson) is describing, from memory and nothing else, the appearance of a house whose owners are unspecified, but the assumption once again is that it's her grandparents' house. This is a comic-as-diagram, an interesting subgenre that connects the concept of a descriptive map with an emotionally revealing drawing. The narrator goes room by room, describing them by memory. The most evocative rooms have smells associated with them (like the laundry room) or repeated, pleasant memories of feeling safe and loved. To indicate her own ghostly presence as a narrator, Anderson draws herself as a kid in a cartoony style in black & white, while the house itself is in vivid and varied color. There are some memories the narrator clearly attempts to ignore, while they hold others tight, such as a Parcheesi board and the kitchen she played it in. One of Anderson's great strengths is formal curiosity blended with emotional resonance, and this comic, modest as it is in its ambitions, is a perfect example of this.

Andy Lindquist's comic What You Owe And What You Own is a powerful story not just about being trans but about what it means to be gendered as a woman. Lindquist's narrative voice is assured and powerful, while their line, though mostly spare, does the job in expressing the frequently awkward and anxiety-producing situations that he found himself in prior to his transition. The comic takes a hard look at Lindquist's teenage years as a self-described "lovely young woman" who was the best soprano in school. Lindquist notes that a narrative that often forms around trans men is that of cis people mourning the loss of a beautiful girl, which Lindquist cynically describes as a "public good." This gets into not just the male gaze and being desired as an object (though that is a big part of it), but also an understanding of being an exemplar for cis women as well. Mostly though, as Lindquist explains through the many arias that involve women being objects of desire where the outcome of that desire is almost always ruin or death, he had no concept of what it formerly meant to be a woman without having to bear that constant, unrelenting burden. The thematic and decorative touches of the comic heighten its themes, with the swelling aria matching the almost inchoate rage and doubt that had plagued them. 

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