title: grease bats
writer/artist: archie bongiovanni
target audience: new adult
publisher: boom! studios
content warnings: homophobia, transphobia, misgendering, racism, sexism
my rating: highly recommended
i received an earc of this from the publisher, via netgalley. this does not influence my thoughts or opinions.
grease bats is an ongoing series of comic strips by archie bongiovanni, which has been posted regularly on autostraddle.com since january 2014. in it we follow best friends and roommates scout and andy, alongside a group of their close friends, as they navigate through life as queer and broke 20-something disasters. these strips are now making their way from the internet and to the printed format, with the help of boom! studios. this collection of 55 previously published comics strips, as well as a longer 20-page story that hasn’t been released anywhere before, is going to be available in comic shops on august 28th.
i have been aware of bongiovanni since their zine a quick & easy guide to they/them pronouns was picked up and published by oni press a couple of years back. when i saw in the previews catalogue back in april that boom! (one of my favourite publishers) was releasing a bind up of 300 pages worth of their work i was so excited. despite knowing that grease bats can be found online i didn’t go seek it out, i wanted to wait so i could read this collection instead. therefore all the characters were totally new to me when i dove into it, and aside from knowing it was going to be very very gay and probably relatable, i didn’t really know what i was getting into.
reading more than 50 short comic strips with no overarching plot can get a bit monotone overtime, but this collection has a perfect balance of lighthearted fun, chaotic dumb energy, and heavy topics that i flew through it easily. there are strips where the characters just go drink beer and set something on fire in the back yard to blow off steam, there are ones all about reaffirming to each other – and the reader – that you’re perfect the way you are, and there are ones dealing with misgendering, homophobia, and the 2016 us election. the wide variety keeps it from getting repetitive and boring.
our two main character are scout – an awkward lesbian with too many feelings – and andy – an unstoppable genderqueer person with more than enough chaotic energy to go around. then there are their friends – ari; introverted, Better Than U, asexual and aromantic (note that this isn’t said on page, but she very much reads like aroace), gwen; newly single bisexual, only here for a good time and to spread sunshine, and taylor; a shy and questioning grad school student who is in over her head. despite all stories being told over only a handful of pages, you get to know all five of these characters incredibly well. they are all their own individuals, and even though they are very different they go together. The Found Family Is Strong With This One. (if anyone is wondering, i’d say i’m a combination of scout and ari.)
overall, grease bats was extremely entertaining. this is definitely for all us tired, queer, 20-somethings out there. somehow i could see myself in almost every single story. there were times i laughed, and then other times i felt so hard for the characters that it broke my heart. if you’re on the lookout for short, relatable slice of life comics about a group of queer disasters, i’d highly recommend you check it out.