Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Someone Please Have Sex With Me by Gina Wynbrandt

There's a standard for autobiographical comics: they have to be about "you," obviously, but that "you" must be larger than life. Whatever your actual flaws are, make them bigger and funnier -- your cartoon avatar must be a cartoon, in all of the senses of that word that you can manage.

Gina Wyndrandt understands this instinctively -- or maybe from her art-school background in Chicago -- and so her first collection of comics, Someone Please Have Sex With Me, features a hot mess central character exaggerated from what the real Wynbrandt must think are the most interesting (or most easily parodied) aspects of herself. Someone Please collects five minicomics -- one for each of the last five years -- which are essentially all of her work to date. (I found another one-pager on her website, but otherwise this is pretty much it; she's right at the beginning of her career.)

So the Gina of these comics is sex-obsessed and self-deluded, a big ball of longing and wrecking-ball destructiveness, a more clueless Melissa McCarthy character. (American culture never knows what to do with oversized women, like it doesn't know what to do with loud ones, so there are few role models for a Wynbrandt character. In her lazy thoughtlessness, she's almost more like a gender-swapped Kevin James character, if that makes any sense.) Comics Gina starts out obsessed with Justin Bieber -- inappropriately, as even other characters point out -- and Wynbrandt's fantasy-tinged stories allow her avatar to meet and have a relationship with him.

It all turns out badly, of course -- autobio comics are usually about wacky people failing, and Wynbrandt is in that tradition. But it turns out badly in nutty over-the-top ways -- like the title story, which projects a sex-starved Comics Gina almost a century into the future, still begging and cajoling and maneuvering to get more nookie. Each story works that way, starting with something like reality and then steadily moving farther and farther afield as Cartoon Gina deforms reality around her with the force of her demands.

The art improves steadily over the course of the book, getting more assured and expressive with each story -- and even the first one, "One Less Lonely Girl," is just fine. The book itself is a cute little thing, drenched in a very girly pink for maximum impact.

I hope Wynbrandt finds other things to cartoon about than herself, eventually, but she's got a fun character in Cartoon Gina, and there's still plenty of life there. As a first book, this is both a hoot and a stake driven into the sand to show the direction Wynbrandt is going to be headed (away from everyone else, which is the best direction to travel for a new creator).

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