Review: ‘Quick and Easy Guides’ From Limerence Press
Limerence Press, an imprint of Oni Press dedicated to “quality erotica, sex education, and gender and sexuality studies comics,” has a line of guides on tricky topics, with three entries so far.
Suitable for older teens and adults, these graphic novels aren’t afraid to tackle issues of current interest, and they’re written from knowledgeable perspectives, with creators that can personally speak to the subject matter, giving them an autobiographical overlay that makes the material easy to relate to, no matter one’s previous familiarity with the topic.
Coming in October is a fourth book, A Quick & Easy Guide to Consent.
A Quick & Easy Guide to They/Them Pronouns
by Archie Bongiovanni and Tristan Jimerson
Limerence Press, $7.99
The line began with what might seem an odd choice. Grammar isn’t the usual topic of sex education books — but in this case, advice on how to use gender-neutral pronouns makes for a wonderful introduction to the concept of non-binary identities.
Archie is non-binary and uses they/them pronouns; Tristan is cis male and uses he/him. They’re friends, which allows for dialogue within the book, which otherwise takes the form of a conversational monologue. Archie talks to Tristan (and vice versa) as well as the reader. Tristan’s presence also allows for satire on attitudes from those unaware of the subject and its importance.
The book is purposefully intended to be given to people who need or desire the education. There’s also some information on gender-neutral procedures in the workplace and some quick-reference guides on suggested language.
The art is simple and straightforward, with no backgrounds, as suits the structure, and in monochrome. The book makes its points, such as the rudeness and pain of misgendering, quickly and directly and so works well as a handout.
A Quick & Easy Guide to Queer & Trans Identities
by Mady G. and J.R. Zuckerberg
Limerence Press, $9.99
The first book set a high bar, and this second in the series doesn’t live up to it. Although its goals are admirable — to assist people in self-identification for the purpose of building community and overcoming shame — the execution is muddled, and the book fails as a comic.
A bunch of snails observing a campout discuss what it means to be queer. At the end of each chapter/topic, there’s a section with “sproutlings,” fantasy creatures that describe themselves as “children of the forest” and who have a perfect society with a variety of ways to love one another. The two approaches don’t work together well.
The dialogue is heavy, with complicated vocabulary patterns, and the book often reads as a decorated lecture. The unnecessary device of having the snails talk about the topics can be off-putting, and it also means that the art rarely contributes to the content, as the text carries all the meaning. The colors are pink and yellow, which adds a faded, sickly feel over top. Some may find the times when white text is used on light colors physically difficult to read.
A Quick & Easy Guide to Sex & Disability
by A. Andrews
Limerence Press, $9.99
Where the previous book seemed to forget the “quick” and “easy” parts of the series, this installment embraces the approach. The art style is once again in the simple, reader-facing format of the first, although this time, it’s in color, which is welcoming.
The author, A, is a queer, paraplegic cartoonist who wants to increase communication around sex and intimacy. They aim to cover all types of bodies, and the visual language here supports that goal. They also want to move past academic discussions and clinical language to something more approachable that supports enjoyment of sex.
A acknowledges the wide variety of types of disabilities, and given the topic, this book focuses most on “physical accessibility needs and considerations in sex.” A’s also got a wicked sense of humor, as when expressing their dismay at the attitude that this topic is unnecessary, with the repeated image of a slamming door.
Topics covered include myths about disabled bodies, the importance of communication, self-care techniques, and how to prepare (tools and techniques). Throughout, A keeps a realistic but encouraging and optimistic attitude that’s a great model for everyone, no matter their physical body, in how to deal with sex and intimacy.
This is a more specialized topic than the previous, but it’s a valuable read that provides lessons for anyone about accepting themselves, maintaining a positive sense of self-worth, and seeking pleasure realistically.
Johanna Draper Carlson has been reviewing comics for over 20 years. She manages ComicsWorthReading.com, the longest-running independent review site online that covers all genres of comic books, graphic novels, and manga. She has an MA in popular culture, studying online fandom, and was previously, among many other things, webmaster for DC Comics. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin.
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