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Review: Elisha Lim’s 100 Crushes

July 18th, 2014     by deb singh     Comments

Photo credit: Koyama Press

I just finished reading the comic compilation 100 Crushes by Elisha Lim. I was compelled to stop reading many times and hit my Facebook status with some update about how Lim’s comic and drawing expertise hit the nail on the head every page I turned.

I have to admit, I am a long-time supporter and fan of Lim’s work for a few reasons. To start, Elisha is part of my community, a long time artist and anti-racist activist who is a qpoc (Queer Person of Colour) and leads from that strong, vulnerable place in their art and activist work.

Second, Lim can draw! The skill I’ve seen grow over the years from comic to realistic portraiture to the brilliant link between storytelling with illustrations and use of words in art, often gets right to the point of the matter. With Lim, nothing is left to speculation and the idea behind the art is there for the taking. Lim, I presume, wants us to take that story, that idea and work it into our own mind’s eye about sexual and gender identity, race and the method of delivering the idea itself, art, comics, drawing. I love Lim’s work because it speaks to me and to my generation of a being a queer kid growing up in the 80s (of which there is a series called Memoirs of a Queer Child in the Eighties) but it also speaks to queers of all generations, 2 spirit people, genderqueer people, trans* people, lesbians, gays, bisexuals and dare I say, straight people. _ 100 Crushes_ is proof of speaking to the masses. This compilation includes Lim’s drawing, comic and art work from 2009 through to 2012, where Lim has excerpts from various series including the art exhibit 100 Butches; Memoirs of a Queer Child in the Eighties (Sweetest Taboo, a comic series submitted to Capital Xtra!); the Illustrated Gentlemen (a series that speaks to the classed-ness of clothes and butches, bois, transmen, masculine women shopping in men’s sections of department stores and boutiques); Sissies and the Femmes that Inspire Them (a strip that speaks to the sexist idea that when men are called sissies, they are weak, ‘flaming’ and/or ‘not man enough’), are just a few of the series included in the book.

Lim takes real people from our communities and helps us tell our stories, giving us a context in which to start: The use of the word ‘they’, the clothes we wear and the experience we have buying them as genderbending folk, the ideas of belonging and being queer kids. Talking about being a queer before you even knew you were a queer as a kid is particularly awesome in this compilation because it speaks to a part of ourselves that is made invisible even more than our queer adult selves. (Lim does this further with the excerpts from ‘The Hong Moon Lesbians of the Sacred Heart” series in the book)

Lim goes on to share people’s experiences and stories of their places along the spectrum of identity that sometimes collide or seem to disagree with one another. For example, some stories express a clear acceptance of the word/identity of Sissy, while others outright reject it. In another part of the comic, there is resistance to the use of the pronoun ‘they’ and acceptance of it on the very next page. In sharing all these experiences, Lim does not discriminate. The point Lim is trying to get across is the diversity of our stories, experiences and the fun in it all rather than making a point about one identity or another. There is no opposition in the rainbow Lim creates with the diverse stories and perspectives they illuminate with their comic expertise, they simply showcase that identity is fluid, complex and beautiful.

For a cool $18.00 with Koyama Press, you can purchase much more than a comic compilation by Elisha Lim. You are purchasing a time machine, a fashion magazine, a journal about freedom of expression, a trans* 101 guide to the word ‘they’, a love story and a place to put all those gushy feelings about loving your identity as a queer person of colour. I’d say it’s worth it.

Tags: body politics, recommended reading

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