Open Earth is the first original graphic novel from Limerence Press, the Oni Press imprint dedicated to erotic and sex education comics. As expected, it has several diverse and explicit sex scenes (which makes it problematic to read on an airplane, as I tried to).
Unfortunately, the actual story isn’t as fleshed out or lovingly portrayed. As written by Sarah Mirk and illustrated by Eva Cabrera, this is about the culture clash between the generations on a space station. Rigo’s parents came from earth, but she and her friends have different rules and expectations about sex.
This includes giving up monogamy. Rigo has sex with Carver and Hex (another guy, in zero-G). We see Franklin (guy) with Atwood (girl), while we’re told Rigo and Franklin have also been together. (We don’t see any non-het sex portrayed in this book.) The whole time, Rigo is pondering whether it’s possible to partner with someone within this framework. She isn’t sure it’s what she wants or whether it’s the influence of her monogamous Earth-born parents.
It’s great seeing a happy, curvy Latina woman, and the sex scenes work well. Good science fiction requires a “what if” idea, though, and this one — how a communal environment would affect morals — is underdeveloped. The dialogue early on between Rigo and her dad about how things have changed is flat and overly expository. It, and scenes like it, also means that we’re a third of the way through the story before we get to the point of its existence: the making out.
That makes Open Earth a cute diversion, but not a particularly memorable one. I’m glad it exists, as I’d like to see more erotic graphic novels that include sex as part of a story (instead of the sole point, as in porn), but I also hope that they’ll be better structured and more fully formed than this one.
Open Earth is now available for preorder from your local comic shop with Diamond code MAY18 1891. It’s due out September 25 in bookstores, September 26 in comic shops. (The publisher provided an advance digital review copy.)