Saturday, December 16, 2023

45 Days Of CCS, #16: Ria "Air" Garcia and Annabel Driussi

Ria "Air" Garcia has been making boldly experimental art for well over a decade, blending abstract and psychedelic art into a variety of dark fantasy scenarios that center around trans issues. Her latest comic, Dark Piss, chucks any pretense of subtlety out the window and instead zeroes in on brutal, pitch-black, hilarious satire regarding the status of trans women in the current culture. With text on the left side of the page and abstract, undulating lines (all in yellow on black, befitting the theme) on the right side, Garcia details a ludicrous yet conceptually plausible scenario where all of the self-described "hot trans bitches" must use a single bathroom in the city to piss in. All of the trans women agree with this measure because otherwise, there's a risk that cis people might get grossed out. Things escalate from there, as they all note they are treated as objects: objects of scorn & loathing as well as objects of (hidden, shameful) desire. The end sequence, where it's revealed just why they are all forced to go to a single building, is screamingly funny and terrible all at once. The abstract art is a reflection of how the women are seen: as signifiers of a particular, objectifying, point of view. 

Annabel Driussi's field of expertise is neuroscience, but they've done a wide variety of comics and in different styles, from using clay to create fumetti to comics about sex to memoir and now a middle-grade graphic novel incorporating neuroscience into a teen girl's difficult life. That book, still in progress, will be titled Your Brain is Better. I read a mini that was part of her thesis package that's mostly thumbnails, and Driussi displayed an ability to blend fine details of neuroscience and neuroanatomy in a way that's easy to understand and attached to a character narrative. Following a middle-school girl named Kat who has trouble understanding why she loses her temper so easily, she's transported inside her brain, where she meets a cute avatar of the pre-frontal cortex (the thinking part of the brain) as well as "Amy," the amygdala (the feeling part of the brain). A crisis comes up (being accidentally hit by some soccer players) which puts the brain on red alert, and Driussi's clear storytelling shows just how the underdeveloped cortex can lead to the amygdala to panic. The similarity to the film Inside Out is obvious, but in this case, it's all 100% neurologically accurate while still pushing a satisfying emotional narrative. 

Driussi's at the 7/11 outside Club Q is a devastating personal memoir regarding the queer nightclub that was the subject of a hate crime shooting in 2022. In beautiful colored pencil, Driussi first notes how formative the club was for her, recalling some fond memories as well as forcing herself to deal with the aftermath of the shooting. Not all is despair--there's an account of mutual aid by trans radicals and a promise to visit. This comic is an intention, an invocation, a prayer, and the brightness of its colors feels intentional for just that very reason. 

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