cover image Milky Way

Milky Way

Miguel Vila, trans. from the Italian by Jamie Richards. Fantagraphics, $24.99 (176p) ISBN 978-1-68396-881-8

Vila’s English-language debut swirls the erotic and the grotesque into a tart tale about the perils of sexual obsession. Repressed 20-something Marco is socially and financially dependent on his hipster girlfriend, Stella, but finds her un-arousing. His libido is jolted awake when Stella gets a job babysitting for Ludovica, a breastfeeding middle-aged single mom whose milk is leaking onto her shirt when Marco meets her. Soon he’s looking up lactation porn and finding excuses to visit Ludovica’s apartment, but he’s more focused on his newfound fetish than on Ludovica herself—and certainly isn’t prepared to deal with the messy reality of her life when she quickly notices his interest. The clean elegance of the Chris Ware–like page layouts, with brightly colored panels arranged artfully across airy white spaces, contrasts with the frank sexual material and the earthy ugliness of the characters, who are drawn to emphasize their pimples, moles, scraggy teeth, and inconvenient fluids. Marco’s sullen, passive nature can make for an unlikable lead, and the story dances awkwardly between gritty drama, unsettling erotica, and winking irony (the on-the-nose title comes from Ludovica’s workplace, an ice cream parlor where women pour suggestive peaks of soft serve). Still, it’s a daring debut from an artist with an impressive command of his craft. (Dec.)