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April 5, 2013

Evenings Out

Ah, to shape-change into the one of desire

Jennie Woods and Robert Kirby have little in common, other than being two--what is the term?--kick-ass comic writers.

Kirby was the writer and artist of the long-running strip Curbside, which ran in this paper until he had the unmitigated gall to stop writing it. Well, you know what they say: If you love something, set it free. If it returns, it’s yours; if not, it was never meant to be.

Well, Kirby has (thankfully) returned time and time again, with his Boy Trouble anthologies and his more recent comics Three, which generally feature three artists.

Now he has a tasty little amuse-bouche called Snack Pak, a collection of his diary comics. Single-page stories, everyday life, all done in his own inimitable style. From fainting on a plane to vacationing in Cancun, from getting drunk to climbing a stairway to nowhere, it’s the little things that make life so intriguing, and that’s what he gives the reader.

He is, quite simply, an engaging and accessible talent. Snack Pak #1 is available from his website,, or any one of many brick-and-mortar or online sellers.

Come on, it’s a 24-page comic book. How much of a review did you expect of it? Just go buy it already.

Jennie Wood and Jeff McComsey’s Flutter, out now from 215 Ink, is another matter entirely, a full-length graphic novel full of teen angst, lesbian love, transgender shape-changers and Kirby crackle. Jack Kirby, not Robert Kirby. Look it up.

The graphic novel, written by Wood, follows Lily, a transgenic teen, the result of an experiment to cure her grandmother of poisoning from tainted water. She is immensely strong, has insane recuperative powers, and has just discovered that she can change shape.

Unfortunately, she and her father are on the run from some shady government types. Whenever they get too close, the two up sticks and move somewhere new. This time, it’s to New York state, where Lily crashes her bike into Saffron, perhaps the girl of her dreams.

When Lily enrolls in school, she uses her newly-found shape-changing powers to turn herself into a boy, modeled after the fantasy object Saffron was sketching in her notebook. The two start dating, but the pressures of the lie start to wear on Lily.

Then, when Lily (as a girl) tries out for Penelope’s band, she realizes that, while she may have first fallen for Saffron, she might have a chance at love, as herself, with Penelope. The only things standing in their way are a trio of gun-wielding maniacs and Penelope’s abusive father, who is also a cop.

Wood’s writing is absolutely engrossing. It’s not a light read, but it’s a fast one, which is quite amazing. She does not give over to a lot of exposition; rather, the entire book is dialogue-driven.

McComsey’s art is spot-on. He gets the tone of the book perfectly, with just enough cartoonishness but also a decent amount of seriousness, and his color palette is very organic. It feels natural, and certain elements, like highlights in the hair, draw connections between characters that really engross the reader.

Flutter is available both digitally on a variety of platforms and in trade paperback. Any book or comic shop should be able to order it, if they are shameful enough to not have it in stock.




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