Review: Juicy Mother 2: How They MetEdited by Jennifer Camper
Juicy Mother 2
Published by Manic D Press
Reviewed by Helena Lukowska
Queer comics are somewhere in the middle of my list of reasons for getting up in the morning. However, the comic genre (yes, including ‘alternative comics’) is often dominated by straight white men. By and large it seems that the queer lover of comics really has to do their research to find representation. So imagine my joy last year when I was sent a copy of Juicy Mother, proudly proclaiming itself to be a comic for ‘discerning homosexuals, uppity ladies, fierce people of colour and their friends. It was amazing and even the most discerning of homos would find it hard to pick holes in its brilliance. Juicy Mother 2 is a lot heftier than its predecessor, but falls short of being quite as good, but then not many things could be. I did find my mind wandering at points and I kind of wish I had read the two Juicy Mothers in reverse order. Still, JM2 is full of enough of the good stuff to keep a queer comic lover very happy.
The chunky, glossy style cover didn’t really inspire me, but turn a few pages and off JM2 kicks with a sweet but heart-breaking tale of young polyamorous queer love and confusion and squatting and the punk scene and art school by Fly. My favourite strips included Carrie McNinch’s ‘A Phonecall in August’ (taken from her wondrous zine The Assassin and the Whiner) about a triggering phone call to a recovering alcoholic and the bottle hitting that follows, then the inevitable sinking, displayed literally as jumping off a cliff into the ocean and getting tangled up in the murky depths. It’s told simply and harshly in black ink that hits you like a smack in the face.
My favourite comic (and one that happily wasn’t afraid to take up lots of space in the compilation) is editor Jennifer Camper’s Night Shift. Stylistically, the drawings remind me of Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis. Apparently ‘simple’ (through I’m sure it’s anything but) without any unnecessary clutter but beautiful and so expressive that, as Camper explains in the reference section, not many words are required to convey the passing of time. The comic tells the story of a sleep-deprived, gender ambiguous, Arab-American queer living in a noisy apartment by day and working in a warehouse by night, hitting strip bars, being seduced and abandoned by her neighbour, threatened with death and needless to say going a bit nuts. It culminates in her discovered passed out in her car by a group of kids, finally asleep, only to be woken up by shouts of ‘Hey mister!’ The ending is bitter-sweet, heart warming and destructive all at once.
Each edition of Juicy Mother is themed, this one being, ‘How They Met’ and there is a wide range of interpretations on this theme, matched by a diverse range of artwork, experiences and perspectives. There is much to discover and art by plenty of people I’d never heard of. The voices in Juicy Mother are those all too often muffled by obscurity and a lack of distribution. Not just a great collection in its own right, but a primer for those of us dipping our toes into the world of queer comics and a fix that doesn’t come often enough.
Helena Lukowska is a sometime writer, sometime dj, sometime performer and most of the time layabout, currently living in Brighton. She can be contacted at email@example.com