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Cover for the hardcover collection

how loathsome

A four-issue mini series, 2003, NBM.
A collection has been published in April 2004, and is available from Mars Import either in hardcover or softcover.
Buy the collection from Amazon.

Category: slice-of-life, transgender.

Author(s): Tristan Crane, Ted Naifeh.

Catherine in love with Chloe

how loathsome is anything but.
how loathsome is a journey through a world peopled with junkies, rentboys and trannies.
how loathsome is everything self-righteous people are afraid of.
how loathsome is a touching and believable series of vignettes where the characters behave like real human beings, as outlandish as their lifestyles can be for most people. 

What's interesting in the entire series is that the authors show varied and complementary sides of their characters. Yes, one could say some are throwing their lives away, with drugs and booze... but having 2.3 kids and a mortgage does not ensure one's life is full and enriching, is it? And then, there are the relationships between the characters, which, in fact are the true substance of the series.

The main character in the series is Catherine, a woman who falls in love with Chloe, a pre-op transsexual. She also writes little scary stories which are included in the comics as a kind of interlude, a counterpoint for the "real" story.
Catherine is an engaging character. Contrary to most others, her sense of self is very strong, but that doesn't mean she doesn't feel doubts, whether about her relationships or the welfare of her friends.
Chloe appears a bit of a cypher at first, but the authors manage to make her more than a metaphor for self-questioning, and a fully-realized person. She has dreams and wants and needs, and after all is said, how (not) surprising, they're not any different from the dreams and wants and needs of all the other human beings. 
Another interesting character is Alex, a young prostitute and a junkie who's lost to the power of drugs, and his future isn't bright. But he finds himself falling for another boy... who's not quite a boy. So who knows?

Ted Naifeh's art is an integral part of the charm of these comics. His work is full of shadows and sharp angles, and decidedly sensual. He captures a face, body language, clothes and backgrounds with a seeming ease, in a black and white which makes good use of all the shades of grey available to an artist. And yes, that was a metaphor.
He also has the skills necessary to beautifully change his style for the two stories written by Catherine. A phantom story set in a dark wood (how more gothic can you get?) and a sad love story among buddhist monks, these stories are full of a sense of fate which, of course, eludes the "real" characters.

how loathsome is about living one's life on one's own terms, about finding and sometimes losing love and friendship in improbable places.
how loathsome is a comic I hope isn't over. Ted Naifeh and Tristan Crane have obviously put a lot of themselves into that series, and it would be a pity if we couldn't meet again Catherine and her friends. They're closer to us than most people would accept, and I'm glad I got to make their acquaintance.

Alex tripping
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