Special Topics in Being a Human: A Queer and Tender Guide to Things I've Learned the Hard Way about Caring for People, Including Myself

S. Bear Bergman and Saul Freedman-Lawson. Arsenal Pulp, $21.95 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-1-55152-854-0
This delightful, neatly intersectional graphic compendium of advice tailored to a variety of situations—such as “How to Apologize (Properly, Not Like a Republican Congressman)”—lands as so down-to-earth that few readers will mind that it’s telling them what to do. Bergman (Blood, Marriage, Wine and Glitter), of the web advice column “Asking Bear,” approaches his mission with humility, humor, and practicality. Each section contains numbered steps, considerations of context, and illustrations showcasing a refreshing range of human bodies. The artwork by Freedman-Lawson includes some examples drawn from the co-creators' real lives, such as in “How to Have a Disagreement, or Even an Argument, Without Having a Fight,” where Bergman advises that so much of marital dispute heats up from delivery versus the facts of debate—so in his marriage, they randomized which of the couple has to apologize about using a “tone” based on whether it’s an even or odd day. In an especially charming section titled “How to Be Bad at Things but Do Them Anyway,” Bergman does a stint as illustrator, with wobbly stick figures, while Freedman-Lawson writes “Unease... is likelier to be an indication that we need more practice than it is a harbinger of doom.” Delivered with more than a spoonful of kindness, this medicine goes down easy and has the potential to facilitate real healing. (Oct.)

Correction: An earlier version of this review incorrectly stated the co-creators of this book are married.

Reviewed on : 08/24/2021
Release date: 10/12/2021
Genre: Comics
Open Ebook - 978-1-55152-855-7
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