Alice in Leatherland
Out in early November is the collected Alice in Leatherland. It’s the story of a children’s book author who finds satisfaction and love by moving to a big city and working in a sex toy store.
As written by Iolanda Zanfardino and illustrated by Elisa Romboli, Alice is almost too good to be true. She’s optimistic and romantic and believes in happy endings. Her innocence makes people want to protect her — except for her girlfriend, who belittles her and cheats on her.
Alice’s friend and illustrator, Robin, is the “love ’em and leave ’em” type. She’s moving to San Francisco, and Robin wants Alice to come with her, but it takes having her heart broken for her to make the jump, abruptly.
It’s clear that Robin likes Alice more than she wants to admit to herself. The reader spends the book waiting for the two of them to figure it out. In the story, it takes them bumping into each other at a pride parade and a run-in at work to get past their misunderstandings and jealousy.
Alice finds a room in a house with a performance artist and a dom who brings their work home. They set her up with a new job while she’s still working on her children’s story about a firefly trying to figure out how to relight her glow.
The combination of sweet insect analogies and explicit sexual encounters makes for an unusual story, but it’s all very good-hearted. As you can see from the obvious symbolism of Alice’s fairytale, readers will know the shape of the story from the beginning. It’s not the conclusion, but the journey. We want to root for Alice and see her find her happy ending, and since it’s well-illustrated, it’s fun to follow her around. Particularly since the various other women she tries to date are silly exaggerations.
Here’s my favorite short sequence, in which Alice discovers a vibrator.
I enjoyed this unusual combination of sexy romance, and LGBTQ-friendly readers particularly should enjoy Alice’s journey of self-discovery.
Alice in Leatherland can be pre-ordered now from your local comic shop with Diamond code SEP21 1375 ($17.99, Black Mask Comics).