Column: Without spandex or superhero cleavage, artist Gina Wynbrandt creates a funny, very real comics heroine with a Justin Bieber problem
A girl and her Justin Bieber crush doesn’t exactly sound like the sort of material that darkly funny comics are made of. But artist Gina Wynbrandt’s first book takes seemingly innocuous girl culture and transforms it into something humorously abject.
“Someone Please Have Sex With Me,” as her slim debut book is titled, gathers five stories about a hapless character named Gina, who is very (very) loosely based on Wynbrandt herself.
This unlikely comics heroine is twentysomething and single — more adolescent than adult, kind of desperate, a devout Belieber with a deep well of sexual fantasy, some of which is inappropriately directed at the then-underage singer. (The subject matter of Wynbrandt’s book may be prolonged adolescence, but its content is resolutely adult — with language and racy scenarios to match.)
In the story “Tiger Beat Exclusive,” Gina slingshots from feelings of physical inadequacy (she is neither Hollywood pretty nor Hollywood skinny) to a fantasy sequence in which her fairy godmother, Kim Kardashian, tarts her up and takes her to the Teen Choice Awards to watch Bieber perform.
Sexy fantasies ensue — one illustrated by a series of wry visual metaphors that include an exploding volcano and a rushing waterfall. Then Gina accidentally burns the theater down with a cigarette. The denouement is delightfully absurd.
The story “Manhunt,” also takes the form of fantasy — with Gina taking on the role of a Daytona Beach “bounty huntress” who uses her wits and her simmering sexuality to nab the baddies. The contents of her bag include a gun, a vibrator and Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War.”
The story skewers all of the tropes of the television detective show — from tough-talking boss to inane action sequence — all while reveling in issues of desire, insecurity, body image and female sexuality. It is at once bizarre, on point and hilarious. I found myself laughing out loud.
Wynbrandt couples the deft storytelling with a singular artistic style.
Her panels are rendered in pleasing cotton-candy shades of pink and blue — soft colors that give the gritty content an ironically feminine edge. There are also surreal scenarios (a pair of disembodied woman’s hands groping a hot lifeguard), characters depicted at odd angles and clever nods to digital culture. The visual metaphors of the volcano and the waterfall, for example, are depicted as JPG image files on a computer desktop.
But it is ultimately the honesty with which she depicts her characters and female insecurity that makes “Someone Please Have Sex With Me” such a refreshing read — in ways that recall the alt comics of Aline Kominsky Crumb. Gina isn’t cardboard. She is equal parts bravado and self-doubt, raging id and little girl, a figure you want to throttle but also hold close.
She is a woman. And in comics, that is something that is always refreshing to read.
2dcloud Comics & Graphic Novels: 140 pp., $17.95
Find me on Twitter @cmonstah.
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