Crossplay

Niki Smith. Iron Circus, $15 trade paper (144p) ISBN 978-1-945820-14-4
Smut Peddler anthology alumna Smith presents an erotic graphic novel that’s touching in every sense of the word. A group of old friends reunite at a comics and anime convention for a weekend of cosplay and geeking out, but fate has more in store for some of them. Smith displays an impressive economy of storytelling as she flits around each plot thread, allowing brief but enticing glimpses of a wide array of characters. In one luscious scene in particular, a quiet almost-threesome is punctuated by the sharp clicking of a camera. But what makes this collection of hot encounters exceptional is the book’s honest emotional core: Smith explores the pain of growing into a new identity: while cosplayer Emi struggles with a crush on her presumed straight best friend Priya, Jillian grapples with both a broken arm and gender dysphoria. “What else is fandom for, if not to turn everyone totally gay?” smirks one character, speaking plainly on Smith’s behalf—nothing and nobody in the book can be definitely identified as “straight,” and therein lies its label-defying beauty. Smith has crafted a love letter not merely to cosplay, but to healing, self-love, and acceptance. (May)
Reviewed on: 03/05/2018
Release date: 05/01/2018
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