Let me start this review by saying this book is deliciously refreshing.
I came across Sugar Town during Awesome Con weekend of 2018. My buddy Carlos and I went to Fantom Comics and I spotted this little beauty on the shelf. Of course, the cover and the review quotes on the back got my attention, so I had to get it.
This is the story of a lady named Hazel, who’s staying in Portland for a few days to visit family and celebrate her birthday. During her stay, she meets and crushes on Argent, a totally cool lady… and Hazel also stays in touch with her boyfriend, who’s back in New York City.
Yep. This is a book about polyamory.
Now let me make this point real fast: I am not polyamorous, but I can get the appeal of it. I have friends who are poly and they’ve clued me in about how it works and how to make it work. Polyamory is a “weird” concept only because here in good ol’ US of A, monogamy is treated as the default. It’s just culturally assumed that “soulmates” are a thing and there’s only one “right one” for someone else and you better find them in your lifetime and marry them and have lots of babies and UUUUUGH.
That said, polyamory could be seen as an anarchist statement against “the system” of monogamous marriage arrangements. To which I say, “…Maybe?”
And there are still others who look at polyamory and say, “Those people are just indecisive and think they can have everything!” To which I say, “No.”
Polyamorous people know what they want. What they want is to love, and to be in relationships with, more than one person at the same time. And if they can make it work, kudos.
Ok, point made. Back to the comic.
Sugar Town is the story of a poly-amorous relationship done right. It’s also one of the VERY FEW stories with girl-on-girl love where both characters are not only alive, but still in love by the end of the story. That’s freakin’ rare.
This is also one of the few stories with queer main characters who aren’t 110 percent in absolute angst over their status as queer. Hazel, the main character, has the occasional moment of questioning whether she’s doing it right. But that’s only because she’s so new to polyamory.
The characters are charming as heck, and the art has such lovely saturated colors. The art also does this thing where every set location has a different color scheme, and it’s wonderful.
Really, the only problem I have with Sugar Town is that it’s so short. It’s one of the skinniest trade paperbacks I’ve read thus far, at 40 pages long. However, it’s not really a problem: the story doesn’t overstay it’s welcome, and I always enjoy going back to it. Sugar Town is a book you can read and re-read and still get enjoyment out of it. At least, for me.
If you can get a copy of this book, do it. It’s available directly from Hazel Newlevant’s website.
Oh! And one more thing before we split: somehow it didn’t click in my head during the first read-through that the main character has the same name as the author. However, as an artist, I know how fraught it is to point to a piece of work an artist made and declare, “That’s you!” This work may have bits of autobiography to it, or it could be all autobiographical. I don’t know. What I do know is that this is a work of fiction, and we, as readers, should respect that.
Ok. That’s it for now. Thank you for reading!
You. Are. Awesome.