As graphic artist Rhea Ewing neared college graduation in 2012, they became consumed by the question: What is gender? This obsession sparked a quest in which they eagerly approached both friends and strangers in their quiet Midwest town for interviews to turn into comics. A decade later, this project exploded into a sweeping portrait of the intricacies of gender expression with interviewees from all over the country. Questions such as “How do you Identify” produced fiercely honest stories of dealing with adolescence, taking hormones, changing pronouns—and how these experiences can differ, often drastically, depending on culture, race, and religion. Amidst beautifully rendered scenes emerges Ewing’s own story of growing up in rural Kentucky, grappling with their identity as a teenager, and ultimately finding themself through art—and by creating something this very fine. Tender and wise, inclusive and inviting, Fine is an indispensable account for anyone eager to define gender in their own terms.
From: W. W. Norton & Company
Notes on This Title
Fine begins with a page of content warnings more specific than those tagged here. It also warns again right before a discussion of suicide so that readers can skip it easily.
2022 ALA Graphic Novels and Comics Round Table Best Graphic Novels for Adults
Starred Review: “Woven around the interviews is Ewing’s own account of coming out as nonbinary, ending with their wedding and how this project was instrumental to discovering how to be comfortable in their own skin. While Ewing’s interviews all took place in the Midwest, interviewees originally hailed from across the country and include teens and seniors, white people and people of color, cisgender and transgender folks, straight people and LGBTQ+ people. … Recommended for everyone who cares about better understanding the complicated, varied, gorgeous mess that is gender.” (Source: Booklist, February 2022, #1)
Starred Review: “Based in the Midwest, Ewing spoke with more than 50 individuals varying in gender, age, and race, and the narrative includes those remarkable stories, which evolve as the book progresses. … The author deftly assembles the most resonant responses, showing the participants generously discussing how gender is interconnected with race, culture, and sexuality; how it moves far beyond conventional masculine and feminine designations; and how embracing fluidity can be liberating and transformative regardless of social norms of appearance and behavior, many of which are constrictive and damaging. … The instructive yet never heavy-handed narrative boldly shows how identity is intimately interpreted and how connections with others can fortify perceptions and perspectives. A vital, richly textured resource for anyone seeking a better understanding of gender identity.” (Source: Kirkus)
Starred Review: “The scope demonstrates the diversity of experiences and personal relationships to gender within the trans community; some participants hold concrete ideas, while others describe gender and its performance as ‘loose’ and celebrate its contradictions and complexities. … much of the subject matter is evergreen, such as navigating being trans and a person of color in America, the complicated decisions that often surround hormone therapy, and the problems with how queer communities police themselves. This thought-provoking work will appeal to those seeking a robust, personal exploration of how gender shapes lives.” (Source: Publishers Weekly)
The Dream Foundry: “Interview with Artist Rhea Ewing”
Publishers Weekly: “Over the Rainbow: PW Talks with Rhea Ewing”