Cartoonists: Erika Moen and Matthew Nolan
Layout Assistance: Maria Frantz
Publisher: RH Graphic
Let’s Talk About It by Erika Moen and Matthew Nolan is a nonfiction young adult graphic novel that has the answers to questions like, “How do I masturbate,” “what is consent,” and “how do I have sex,” presented through one of the most effective mediums for teaching: comics!
Let’s Talk About It is the new standard to introductory texts about relationships and sex, with plenty of information presented in a clear and respectful way, using language that aims to be inclusive of anyone who picks up the book – no matter what their previous experience with the subjects may be.
Let’s Talk About It presents its information as a series of conversations between teens (with the occasional older sibling thrown in the mix). The information is laid out in a straightforward manner, immediately clear to the reader thanks to the crisp structure of the book, which is laid out by the table of contents (according to the acknowledgements, the book looks so good thanks to layout assistance from Maria Frantz).
Between the table of contents, the clearly labeled chapter title pages, and the index, you might be tempted to dismiss Let’s Talk About It as a standard-issue textbook. However, the book counterbalances these expectations thanks to both the fundamentally welcoming nature of comics and the friendly, warm nature of the drawings of the characters whose dialogue imparts the information.
Moen and Nolan are definitely the ideal candidates for this project, thanks in part of their extensive experience. Thanks to work on projects like the Drawn to Sex series of the long-running webcomic Oh Joy Sex Toy, they know how to combine engaging sequential narrative with factual information related to the topic at hand, striking the right note between anatomical artwork, charismatic comics characters, and essential information on safely and respectfully having sex (both with others and yourself).
…More than sex comics!
In addition to answering questions like “what is… aftercare” and “what are…kinks, fantasies, and porn,” the comic also includes answer to questions like “what is… jealousy” and “what is… rejection,” as well as covering topics like consent.
Ensuring that the topics covered by the book include these sex-adjacent topics is essential, as they are part and parcel of navigating the kind of interpersonal relationship that may involve sex. However, while people (and teens in particular) are expected to know everything about the topics by default, they may not often be discussed.
Let’s Talk About It is meant to be an introduction to the information it contains, not a comprehensive guide, and it includes plenty of resources for continued research at its conclusion.
Could Let’s Talk About It be for you?
While Let’s Talk About It is geared first and foremost towards teens, much of the information included applies to adults, as well – and if you are already away of the substance of the information but aren’t sure how to discuss it in an inclusive way, this book could be helpful to you as well. Plus, the book encourages open-mindedness and experimentation, so you may find yourself learning something new even if you think you have seen everything under the sun.
According to the letter from the authors at the conclusion of the book, Moen and Nolan set out with a goal of producing the book that they wish they had access to when they were teenagers, and it’s evident that Let’s Talk About It fulfills that goal: it’s filled with the sort of practical, important information about sex that is often withheld from teenagers, either because of archaic moral judgments or authoritative ignorance (or, you know… both).
Let’s Talk About It is available at your local bookstore and public library today – if you need help finding it, ask a librarian (they can also tell you where in the library you can read it if you are not able to check it out)!