cover image Everything Is Beautiful, and I’m Not Afraid

Everything Is Beautiful, and I’m Not Afraid

Yao Xiao. Andrews McMeel, $14.99 (128p) ISBN 978-1-5248-5245-0

Chinese-born cartoonist Yao blends slice-of-life comics with surreal introspection in this remarkable debut collection. Previously serialized on her webcomic Baopu, each short piece draws from Yao’s life, such as her family’s rocky path to accepting the fact that she’s bisexual, as she tries to grasp her future self. The tensions between queer sexuality and traditional, conservative Chinese culture prove fertile ground for literally extraterrestrial explorations of self-worth and the weight of family as Yao floats through the ether; while stories such as “Amplified Voice” take more piercing aim at the erasure and racism the author faces, feeling dissociated from Western LGBTQ categorization. Yao’s struggles to attain and maintain self-acceptance and self-love take poignant shape through her fluid cartooning—at turns refined and intentionally childlike, with blocky bright colors alongside subtle shading. She also offers heartfelt advice for those grappling with similar emotional difficulties, such as in the viral comic “If You Want to Say Thank You, Don’t Say Sorry.” This heartfelt collection proves that the most relevant and relatable art comes from those who need it most themselves. [em](Mar.) [/em]