cover image Kisses for Jet

Kisses for Jet

Joris Bas Backer. Nobrow, $19.99 (208p) ISBN 978-1-9131-2303-1

Set in the Netherlands in 1999, this moody graphic novel by trans creator Backer follows 16-year-old Jet’s year living in a boarding house while their parents work abroad. In addition to encountering conflict among the housemates and navigating worries about their academic future, Jet, who cues as white, explores the increasing awareness that they “would like to be a boy, or something.” In lieu of a linear narrative, Backer divides the story into scenes that convey important moments and emotions in the protagonist’s maturation, making certain threads hard to follow. Striking, mostly monochromatic art with a sketchy feel simultaneously illustrates the tone of Jet’s real-life situations and abstract feelings and dreams, all steeped thoroughly in ’90s culture. (Notes on which songs are playing in certain scenes—such as “Disarm” by Smashing Pumpkins—appear throughout.) Jet’s earnest questioning and relationship with gender and adolescence illustrates the conflict between becoming who the world wants them to be and who they are, conveyed in a raw, personal-feeling portrayal of transition in a pre-internet era. Ages 14–up. (May)