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Gay Giant: A Memoir

Gabriel Ebensperger
Street Noise Books
256 pages
Street Noise Books

Nothing is worth more than laughter. It is strength to laugh and to abandon oneself, to be light.

Frida Kahlo

Gay Giant is the title of Chilean artist Gabriel Ebensperger’s graphic memoir about growing up gay and finding his own place in life largely surrounded by a heteronormative and often macho culture. Drawn in bold strokes and bright shades of fuschia and pinks contrasted here and there with shades of gray, the appearance of a snarky Frida Kahlo (tagged with “Not copied from Google”) juxtaposed with the above quote of hers about the value of laughter alerted me of the goodness to follow.

At the heart of Gay Giant is an existential question central to queer people: Have you ever had the feeling that even if you wanted to you’d never blend in? Ebensperger answers it with unwavering irreverance, charm, humor, thoughtfulness, and compassion. A parade of pop cultural icons (Cher, Alanis Morisette, Sandra Oh and Eileen Grey from Grey’s Anatomy) and other references (Grease, My Little Pony, Jem & The Holograms for example) are woven throughout as we tag along on Ebensperger’s journey from pre-school to his youth and his adult life. Many of the experiences recounted between the covers will be familiar to queer readers across generations. The idiotic teacher, grade school taunts, an utterly overbearing and phobic boss – lampooned as Maleficent here, homophobic relatives, first kisses and fledgling relationships, life being changed by the Internet, the frustration of trying to queer Sims, finding serendipitous affirmations in pop culture TV, Grindr, and self doubt. Ebensperger treats these moments of self examination with honesty. With Kahlo’s quote acting as muse, Ebensperger imagines a fortuitous visit with his future nonogenarian self who offers wise gay elder advice spurring his present day self to move forward in his life with trust and abandon himself to love in a deeply heartwarming, consciousness expanding closing sequence. While I won’t spoil it I will pique your interest with lyrics to the first verse of Bjork’s All Is Full of Love:

You’ll be given love
You’ll be taken care of
You’ll be given love
You have to trust it

However daring a choice it seems to use fuschia so predominately throughout a graphic novel of this length it soon became clear to me how smart and clever the choice was. The color is strong, unmistakable while radiating positivity and joy and playfully shouting “I’m here! I’m queer!” Any other color palette might have diminished the impact of Ebensperger’s storytelling.

Gay Giant is the feel good story I didn’t know I needed! Entranced by “Fanatic Fuschia,” my new favorite color, I fell completely head over heels in love with the humor and heart of Gay Giant. I very much look forward to Ebensperger’s next graphic novel project titled Just In Case!

Gay Giant is Ebensperger’s debut graphic novel. It was originally published by Catalonia in Chile in 2016 and the following year in Tusquets Edition in Mexico. The work was translated by Kelley D. Salas with Mercedes Guhl.

See sample pages of Gay Giant here. Keep up with Gabriel Ebensperger at his site, on Instagram, and Facebook.

Gay Giant is on sale now. Look for it in your local comic shop (Diamond order code MAR221918) or bookstore. Ask for it to be ordered with the ISBN 978-1-951491-16-1. IndieBound or Bookshop are good sources. The book is also available on Amazon if you wish

June 22, 2022
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