August 16, 2012

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SPX Spotlight 2012: Katie Omberg and Gay Kid 4

Welcome to another entry in my SPX Spotlight 2012!  You can find all of my SPX Spotlight posts, including those from past years, by clicking here.

Today the spotlight shines on long-time Panel Patter favorite, Katie Omberg.  I've been reading Katie's comics since 2008, and you can find all of my posts relating to her work here.  She writes comics that mostly feature common, everyday concepts that anyone can relate to.  Working mostly in an autobiographical style, Omberg talks about her life frankly and honestly, showing both the good and the bad. It tales a lot of guts to do that and I have quite a bit of admiration for those who do.

Katie's latest comic, which will be available at SPX, is Gay Kid 4, the newest outing in Omberg's series of mini-comics exploring aspects of her life that interact with her sexual identity.  This time around she examines a sleepover in which the girls, just at that age where they know a bit about body image, are playing harmless games of comparison.  Except for Katie, it's just a bit more exciting than it is for the others.  She doesn't understand what it means, but the event leads to a friendship ban that was puzzling at the time but becomes all too painfully obvious for the modern Omberg.

This is a very painful entry to read.  Looking back at childhood memories can be difficult at the best of times, and those times where parents took friends away from you are the worst of those.  To add that the reason was homophobia--at like age EIGHT!--makes it all the sadder.  Katie's final reflection on this event is just gut-wrenching when you think about it, and is a scene that I am sure still happens to this day.

I felt like the third issue of Gay Kid looked a bit rushed, but this issue feels like it had more time and care given to it.  Omberg's art style is loose and sketchy as per usual, which will either appeal to you or not, depending on your taste.  The difference this time is that it feels like she's done a better job of thinking out the visuals that go along with the narrative.  The looks on faces and actions portrayed match up better to the story, which is important because a lot of the impact needs to come from implication, rather than outright statements, since there's a combination of innocence and understanding going on at every moment.

Gay Kid continues to be a great look into the sometimes uncomfortable parts of a person's life, one who is roughly the same age as me (I think I have her by a few years).  There's a lot of emotional issues about growing up then that shape who we are today, and I give Katie a lot of credit for writing about it, especially given some of these memories are unpleasant.  If you like autobiographical work that's frank and honest, you need to stop by and see Katie Omberg.  Gay Kid 4 would be an excellent place to start.