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Best Of 2022: Call Me Nathan

Call Me Nathan
Catherine Castro
Quentin Zuttion
Evan MacGorray
Selfmade Hero
$19.99

In Catherine Castro’s preface to the graphic novel the writer talks about the inspiration for the coming of age story. The occasion was a party with family and friends, somewhere in the countryside with Abba and Bob Marley music playing as Castro was introduced to a fourteen year old youth. She describes them as “radiant and anxious, anchored and floating, determined and uncertain.” Castro laments that at the time of their meeting issues of transness were rarely discussed publicly in France and controversy and misunderstanding often hampered the public discourse. Nathan’s spirit and determination made such a strong impression on Castro that she proposed to Nathan and their family the idea of writing the story of Nathan’s transition in a protagonist driven story. Thankfully there was an agreement on the condition of anonymity. The result was a sensitive and beautifully written script about a teen becoming a man and how their family came together with unconditional love and support.

Thumbing through its pages before diving into reading I found Zuttion’s art to be pleasantly refreshing with its fluid, contour line work, and watercolor like aesthetic. How effectively Zuttion conveys a gamut of emotions with so few strokes is quite amazing. To my thinking Zuttion’s use of borderless panels is well suited to visualize the life of a teenager trying to figure out their identity. I found this fuzzy sense of boundary combined with the pacing of Castro’s script so engaging that I read Call Me Nathan in one sitting.

Originally titled as “Appelez-Moi Nathan” and published in 2018 by Editions Payot et Rivages, Call Me Nathan is available in English thanks to publisher Selfmade Hero and literary translator Evan MacGorray’s work. Translating a work might seem straightforward but it can be challenging as culture and traditions are often involved. One imagines being non binary allowed MacGorray certain insights to ensure Castro’s words were sensitively interpreted into English.

Look for Call Me Nathan at your local comic shop or bookstore or use one of the following resources.

Bookshop
Indiebound
Amazon

January 10, 2023
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