Autobiographical comics come in all shapes and styles, but queer autobio comics are rather rare (even Robert Kirby has left them to do fiction). Fortunately, we have Liliane, Bi-Dyke1, Leanne Franson‘s autobio strips which she’s been doing for years now, even though she stopped for a time.
In fact, the strip’s status is a bit more complex than that, since Franson says that Liliane is not her -the noseless head of her character should have been a clue. The strips, which show the character’s life sometimes in everyday occurences, sometimes in key moments, are organized in storylines with a beginning, an end and a title, which enhances the feeling of reading fiction. And a very funny fiction, at that.
For example, the first storyline in the first collection shows a young Liliane, who already liked boys, discovering that she also like girls. A gentle, humane humor pervades the story, as is the case with other storylines where Liliane tries to get pregnant with the assistance of a friend’s sperm.
Another aspect of her stories is the gender politics which appear often. Without any big, theoretical discourse, the absurdity of labels and the limiting effects they have on relationships are shown through real-life examples.
The art conveys that real life very well. Leanne Franson’s characters quickly come to life, thanks to her expressive lines and pared-down style. With a regular, three 2-panels rows storytelling and natural dialogue, the strips are a good example of what comics can do when artists don’t show off, but simply build a coherent, personal work.
Very funny but also very relevant, autobiographical but also clearly fictional, refusing to be a good little dyke as some queer people would prefer while definitely not being straight, Liliane and her joie de vivre are a paean to the diversity of life. Long may she be drawn.