Creator: Archie Bongiovanni
Publisher: BOOM! Box
Archie Bongiovanni is one of the freshest voices in comics, and Grease Bats is a perfect representation of why. This collection, which pulls together strips run on Autostraddle starting in 2014, follows best friends Andy and Scout and their group of friends as they all navigate their 20s. Andy is a trans, genderqueer person who loves parties and sex, but is also fiercely loyal to their BFF; Scout is a feelings-laden, mistake-making queer woman who’s still trying to get over her ex. The pair live together and do (almost) everything together, and their voices are so distinct that they seem to leap right off the page.
Quite frankly, there’s nothing bad to be said about this collection. Bongiovanni’s writing moves effortlessly from laugh-out-loud funny to somber when Andy or Scout is Going Through It. Grease Bats is an accurate depiction of tight-knit queer communities and the complications that can arise (friends sleeping with each other’s exes! Roommates with Feelings!), as well as the intimate moments that take place within them (Gender feels at brunch! Anxiety attacks!). It gleefully embraces the nuances of queerness and explores the heavier, harder parts of fighting back against cisheteronormativity without ever losing that feeling of hope, found family, and belonging.
As A.E. Osworth writes in their Grease Bats introductory essay, Bongiovanni’s characters are “Glorious trash gremlins who love the shit out of one another, who take care of each other, who, even as they are donking up royally in the goofiest of ways, try their damndest to be family. In the face of the buckwild racism, sexism, homophobia, and transphobia we’re all faced with every day (in the U.S. and elsewhere), the friendships between these five queers might feel healing for you; they have for me.”
Even having followed this comic strip through most of its five-year run, reading them all in this collection feels special. It feels unique. It feels thrilling and healing and good.
Grease Bats is a must-read, plain and simple. It is currently available in comic shops and will be available wherever books are sold on September 3. To keep up with Archie Bongiovanni, follow them on Twitter @grease_bat. You can also check out their A Quick & Easy Guide to They/Them Pronouns, which was released in 2018 and honored by the Virginia Library Association Graphic Novel Diversity Awards.