Comic Review: Alice In Leatherland (5 issue mini, Black Mask Studios)

Alice in Leatherland


Iolanda Zanfardino (Writer), Elisa Romboli (Illustrator)

My Rating: 2.6 of 5 stars

A short, fun, light-hearted and mostly enjoyable story told in an intimate fashion. For fans/seekers of LGBTQIA+ stories, this is a gender-shifted romantic comedy comic that tells a somewhat familiar tale with a more modern bent.

Our protagonist, Alice, is a small-town girl who seems to love her life – she has a girlfriend, her job is all about writing fairytale stories and she’s happy. Until she isn’t and in a fit of sadness and wanting to leave her heartbreak behind, she goes along with her friend and artist of all her books, Robin, to San Francisco. From there her world starts to grow, new people come into her life and she has to go on a journey of self discovery to understand herself and what she wants out of life (and love). Highs, lows, sexiness, confusion, doubt, discovery and more.

This was a book I decided to read on a whim – honestly I wasn’t sure what to expect from a 5-issue mini series with a title like this but it intrigued me with that thought plus the cute, funny artwork.
Inside the covers of the series I found a sweet little slice-of-life kind of story. There’s no massive stakes, there’s barely any scope really – it’s all about two primary characters and less than half-a-dozen others who act as supporting players. There’s an intimacy to the proceedings that’s kind of nice. It’s like even by being in a large metropolitan space like San Francisco, the focus remains tightly on the people involved.
The story is not terribly remarkable but for the most part it’s well told – but more on Alice’s part than Robin’s, the latter being all too readily portrayed in an almost negative light for her lifestyle and though there are hints of a pathological behaviour that might have been an interesting journey to follow as she grew as a person, it’s mostly dragged out until an almost unreal “Eureka” moment that is a bit of a… damp squib if I’m honest. Alice’s journey on the other hand, is not perfect and has a few moments that detract from the characters otherwise almost inhuman likeable-ness, but in a strange way I think almost makes her (unintentionally) more flawed and human – her last “eureka” however, like Robin’s, is a bit cringe-y, that I will honestly say. The supporting cast are not given much space to be more than the broadly designed characters they are and they were all in their own ways quite interesting but they get space and are a big part of what keeps the reading interesting.
The art on the other hand is the big winner. It’s like a strange mix of ink-washed webcomics I’ve read and a more commercial comic. It’s well designed, the layouts are nicely planned and flow well page to page and the character designs are a nice change from the mainstream comics where body designs and types are far more limited in their variation and reflection of reality. The expressions of the characters, the body language, it’s a big plus and plays to the strengths of the medium.

The art wins the day. That to me bore repeating.
The story has flaws, the dialogue can be a bit stilted and the characters are main characters are less than perfect – but it is a simple story about flawed human beings in world much like our own, finding things to be happy about, to find good things to hold on to and to hopefully grow. A moment or two aside, it does broadly manage that.
The little fairy-tale that goes alongside was cute and was a nice reflection of Alice’s mind and I found it an amusing touch.
Not a great comic but a nice little detour from the norm and that’s always good when you want to keep an open mind to different things in the world out there.

View all my reviews

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