An assortment of comics, some autobiographical, from cartoonist Julia Kaye.
Notes on This Title
Up and Out is a series which encompasses both one-off gag strips, and a series of autobiographical comics depicting the creator’s life.
Super Late Bloomer and My Life in Transition collect a number of strips dealing with the creator’s transition.
2018 Ignatz Award for Outstanding Collection - Nominee
Starred Review: “Cartoonist and Disney artist Kaye’s debut collection is a series of complementary contradictions: blunt yet precise; straightforward but nuanced; simple but beautiful. A collection of Kaye’s first autobiographical strips from her once-absurdist, now rawly honest webcomic Up and Out, this work follows Kaye, a transgender woman, through part of her tumultuous first year on hormone replacement therapy and the social, physical, and mental shifts that accompanied that change. Reading what is effectively Kaye’s diary, it’s nearly impossible not to empathize with her story, especially given her wide-eyed, inviting style of cartooning, which recalls elements of Bill Amend’s Foxtrot. Over five months’ worth of strips, readers witness Kaye deal with an estranged family member, acclimate to new pronouns, heal and grow from a breakup, and develop a greater appreciation of her own unique beauty. Regardless of a reader’s own orientation or identity, there are universal points of recognition and inspiration in Kaye’s frank and open telling. While repackaged web strips don’t always translate well to book form, the accumulation of quotidian moments creates a greater whole in this volume. Kaye skillfully and effectively relates the daily indignities borne by trans women and the triumphs and quiet joys as well. Her tenacity in this hopeful story will be resonant for readers going through personal transitions of many kinds.” (Source: Publishers Weekly)
“Graphic memoirs are nothing new, and they have been a dominant mode for many transgender comics. But Kaye’s comic diary is novel. She blends the self-expressive introspection of a memoir with the piecemeal, quotidian thoughts of newspaper strips. Almost every installment of Super Late Bloomer (there are two exceptions) consists of three panels and rarely, if ever, does a strip end with any resolution. Matching human thought, Kaye’s strips linger without summation. Only once one has read the whole collection does any underlying connection between these ostensibly disparate strips become clear, that Super Late Bloomer not only documents Kaye’s transition from male to female, but the accompanying transition from isolating self-hate to self-acceptance. Mirroring this coming-of-age story, readers will notice a visual künstlerroman, Kaye’s own coming to maturity as an artist. Compare the first and last strips of the collection. Her panel lines straighten and her style cleans up. This artistic transformation is both gradual and subtle, nigh imperceptible, but so is the journey to self-acceptance. In this way, Kaye’s comic diary harbors the undergirding theme of all diaries: self-growth. Super Late Bloomer documents Kaye’s growth as transgender, human, and cartoonist.” (Source: The Comics Journal)
“Kaye (Super Late Bloomer) continues her candid journal comics series with an intimate look at her life as a trans woman post–coming out. Having lived openly as herself for three years, Kaye has become more and more comfortable in her own skin, but that doesn’t mean her life has gotten simpler. Kaye attempts to navigate the rocky world of dating in the 21st century, bouncing between iffy experiences with men on hookup apps and turbulent monogamous relationships, while her experiences of gender dysphoria and sexual attraction subtly shift. The arc of the narrative hinges on a messy breakup with ex-girlfriend Liv and Kaye’s slow journey toward healing. Kaye bares her soul via blunt, confessional narration, and occasional flares of expressionism break up her spare, black-and-white cartooning, lending weight to those moments. ‘We’re just people with the same wants and needs as anyone else,’ writes Kaye. By conveying simply that, this collection is a success, illuminating the reality of everyday trans life.” (Source: Publishers Weekly, January 2021, #4)
“The strips begin four months into Kaye’s decision to take hormones, and express her joy and excitement along with her impatience, frustration, dysphoria, and internalized transphobia. She describes moving home, changing her name, and coming out and explores self-image, reactions from others, misgendering, and more. Kaye shares many affirming experiences such as her parents using the right pronouns, her forays into trying out different clothes and makeup, and her reminders that she is valid no matter how she looks or is perceived, but never shies away from moments of frustration or self-loathing. The strips are like reading a diary—raw, honest, emotional, and not always uplifting. While Kaye’s feelings are complicated, she is ultimately hopeful. The simple line drawings add warmth and whimsy to the small snippets of text. Though Kaye focuses on her experiences as an adult, teens will relate to her reflections on identity and acceptance.” (Source: School Library Journal, June 2018)
“Kaye follows up her first graphic novel, Super Late Bloomer: My Early Days in Transition, with a new collection of comics documenting her day-to-day life three years after her gender transition. Kaye enjoys good times with friends and finds joy in being seen as the woman that she is. She still struggles with internalized transphobia and managing the gender dysphoria that sometimes creeps back in. Kaye, who identifies as pansexual, describes her sometimes conflicting feelings about dating. Readers will feel her anguish when accepting family members refuse to stand up for her against transphobic relatives. Nevertheless, she’s made huge strides and feels the peace that comes with finally being the person she was always meant to be. The deft black-and-white cartoons are simple but expressive. Though for the most part illustrations are realistic, when addressing her feelings, Kaye uses powerful imagery to express her joy—a body being cracked open, with a new person emerging—or dysphoria: Kaye floating in space.” (Source: School Library Journal, May 2021)
Smash Pages: “Julia Kaye on ‘Super Late Bloomer”