cover image Until I Love Myself: The Journey of a Nonbinary Manga Artist

Until I Love Myself: The Journey of a Nonbinary Manga Artist

Poppy Pesuyama, trans. from the Japanese by Emily Balistrieri. Viz, $12.99 (192p) ISBN 978-1-974738-84-7

Cute, inviting artwork and a friendly narrative voice ease manga readers into this fearless and often harrowing memoir. Pesuyama, drawn as a cartoony figure with a pageboy haircut and deeply shadowed eyes, endures relentless sexual harassment while working as an art assistant to a manga creator identified as “X.” The pressure-cooker atmosphere of a manga studio, where the art team works 15-hour days and sleeps and showers in the office, provides plenty of opportunities for predatory behavior. “The rowdy kid in class was stomping bugs, and everyone else was just watching,” Pesuyama recalls. Seven years later, as the #MeToo movement triggers a shift in Japanese attitudes toward sexual harassment, Pesuyama confronts their trauma and delves into the childhood experiences that shaped their complex experience of gender. The script leaps from one weighty issue to another, with Pesuyama exploring sexuality, gender identity, and the visceral pain of violation. The loose, accessible linework turns frantic and jagged when Pesuyama depicts their internal anxieties. Brutally direct yet intimate and unpretentious, this comes across like a revealing conversation with a close friend. (June)