The first thing that hits you as you start reading “Alice In Leatherland” by Iolanda Zanfardino, is the gorgeous glossy artwork by Elisa Romboli. Iolanda’s quirky, kinky lgbtq+ comic book story is matched to perfection by Elisa’s illustrations.
In issue #1 of the comic, we meet the protagonist Alice, a struggling children’s writer who is as sweet as the desserts she loves to gorge on. Alice believes in fairy-tales, but is crushed when she catches her long-time girlfriend cheating. So off she goes to big city San Fransisco to pursue better things and ends up finding a room in a flat with some kinky AF folks.
Despite the comic being largely monochromatic and in shades of peach, the reader rarely misses other colors, because the story is fun, vibrant and doesn’t need the crutch of a varied palette to enliven it. In the past, I’ve read comics and complained about how more color would’ve made the reading experience more rich, this isn’t the case with Iolanda’s comic at all. Even when Alice is attending a pride parade in San Fransisco, there’s enough excitement on the scene, so you don’t miss the rainbow hues of the pride flag.
Issue #1 ends in a fun cliffhanger, with Alice moving into a new flat, with bizarre flatmates who are into into BDSM. The character called Kaguya is amusing, and pretty sure the creators were throwing a reference to the beautiful Studio Ghibli heroine from the movie ‘Princess Kaguya’. Iolanda’s Kaguya is also Asian, but a far cry from the chaste magical little girl from the anime, sure she is pretty too, but there’s nothing dainty about her, she screams ‘badass’. Robin is an interesting study in contrast, unlike Alice, Robin is a lot more confident, practical, doesn’t believe in monogamy, but does have faith in her friends.
While Issue #1 ends in Alice being completely uncertain about her future, the next issue starts off with renewed spirit – of trying to settle into the new city. It’s in Issue #2 that Alice attends a pride parade and feels a little out of place. The fact that her close-friend Robin seems to be having the time of her life, with multiple partners fawning over her (open relationship), doesn’t help her feel any better.
Readers would love how Alice’s flatmates are supportive of the ‘new girl’, even though they aren’t confident about her survival skills. The mood in this issue is merrier, with the theme of adjusting to an unfamiliar life. The whole ‘children’s fairy-tale writer gets a job in a sex-toy shop’ twist is a riot. Iolanda runs a parallel plot comic, using ‘a story within a story’ device, we get glimpses of Alice’s new children’s book about a firefly who is looking to shine again. This sub-plot serves as a mirror to the protagonist’s mind, reflecting what she thinks of those around her and helps carry the story forward.
I had so much fun reading this, that there’s nothing to complain about. ‘Alice in Leatherland’ is sumptuously drawn, with lovable characters. Cannot wait to read the next issue.
It’s a 5/5 from me. (Find ‘Alice in Leatherland’ on Amazon)
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