REVIEW: Super Late Bloomer by Julia Kaye (@upandoutcomic)

So, a while back I was sent a review copy of SUPER LATE BLOOMER (<— Amazon affiliate link), a collection of the diary webcomic Up and Out by Julia Kaye. My intent had been to get a review up before its launch (yesterday), but, well… I guess “better late than never” is one of the life lessons of the comic. So…

Super Late Bloomer is a collection of strips that Kaye made to document her transition and help process her feelings about it. If you’re trans and you read it, certain parts of it can be a real heart-wrenching punch in the gut. Which parts exactly will probably vary wildly from person to person, because none of us walk the same journey. There were parts (mostly relating to reflections in mirrors) that I found intensely relatable, and others I could merely empathize with.

If you’re a cis person, I recommend you approach this book from the point of view of “this is an autobiographical comic about a person”. That she is a trans woman is not incidental, it’s the major theme and focus of the comics. And getting insight into the life of a trans woman, any trans woman, is likely to help you relate to and understand other trans women. But you’ll be doing yourself and any other trans women in your life now or in the future a bit of a disservice if you look at the comic as a guidebook or instruction manual on The Trans.

As they say dans la belle Lifetime Channel: this is one woman’s journey.

And it is a herky-jerky, old-fashioned wooden roller coaster ride of a journey: even the ups and downs aren’t nice and smooth. It’s not a sob story, and there’s no cheap pathos. Just genuine human emotions in a genuine human life. Don’t read this comic expecting everything laid out in a nice, progressive story arc; it’s a journal comic, written one day at a time, each strip capturing not the entirety of a day or even its summary but something that resonated emotionally within it. Don’t read it expecting a laugh a minute or gag a day. It’s not that kind of comic strip.

But, by all means, do read it. It is well worth your time for the privilege of seeing inside another human being’s head, reading her reflections at her most confident and most vulnerable moments, and going along on the roller coaster ride.