Book Title: Fine: A Comic About Gender
Author: Rhea Ewing
Release Date: April 5th, 2022
Genres: Graphic Novel/Comic, LGBTQ+, Nonfiction, Sequential Art Comic
My rating: 4.5/5 Stars
As graphic artist Rhea Ewing neared college graduation in 2012, they became consumed by the question: What is gender? This obsession sparked a quest in which they eagerly approached both friends and strangers in their quiet Midwest town for interviews to turn into comics. A decade later, this project exploded into a sweeping portrait of the intricacies of gender expression with interviewees from all over the country. Questions such as “How do you Identify” produced fiercely honest stories of dealing with adolescence, taking hormones, changing pronouns—and how these experiences can differ, often drastically, depending on culture, race, and religion. Amidst beautifully rendered scenes emerges Ewing’s own story of growing up in rural Kentucky, grappling with their identity as a teenager, and ultimately finding themself through art—and by creating something this very fine. Tender and wise, inclusive and inviting, Fine is an indispensable account for anyone eager to define gender in their own terms.
Fine: A Comic About Gender is such an important story, and one I think everyone should read if they have the chance. This comic brought up such an important conversation about gender, and I really do believe everyone can benefit from reading it. Each person will take away something different, I feel. Even for those who think they have a good grasp on what gender is, and especially for those who are unsure or questioning, this story is for you. Fine could even be used to teach others just how complex gender is, and how it’s unique to each person. This comic wonderfully illustrates that concept through the different interviews. Rhea’s individual story woven throughout was so special and really brought home the whole point of the comic. I laughed, I smiled, I frowned, I cried, and I learned. I think that’s the most important thing I can take away from my time with Fine. We all stand to learn more about ourselves and about others, and this comic was a fantastic way for me to do that. Not only did it help me to understand the experience of others a little better, but it also brought up personal questions that I might not have had an answer to.
While the story and content were both amazing, I also have to give a nod to the artwork. It captured the feelings and emotions felt by the various people so perfectly. It showed Rhea’s confusion, their hesitancy, their discomfort in their own body, but it also showed the stark difference between the earlier years of the comic and the later ones when they became more comfortable and had a better understanding of who they are. Each person introduced had a style that was distinctive to them. I can’t praise this enough, because while it was a way to make sure each person was their own, it also reinforced how each of us experience gender and life differently.
I’m so glad I came across Fine while I was browsing NetGalley one day. I was looking for more graphic novels and comics, so when I saw this one, I thought it would be a perfect fit for me and immediately requested it. I was right. This was such a profound read, and I highly encourage everyone to pick it up for themselves.
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a digital ARC in exchange for my honest opinion!
Check out my last ARC Review: Anything But Fine (ARC Review)