THE BIG BOOK OF BISEXUAL TRIALS AND ERRORS by Elizabeth Beier details an authentic and honest queer experience. It's not afraid to be frank and intimate with its readers. The artwork clearly comes from a very personal place and lets readers feel right at home in the story.
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THE BIG BOOK OF BISEXUAL TRIALS AND ERRORS is a title that feels slightly misleading. This autobiographical comic, by author and illustrator Elizabeth Beier, certainly centers around her journey as a bisexual woman. And yet, it is so much more than that.

The representation of the queer community within the comic is fantastic. This comic is beautifully diverse. It manages to be incredibly honest about self-esteem, personal growth, and sex. Plus, it delivers a uniquely bisexual perspective, which is rare even in queer media. People often make bisexuals feel as though their sexuality is invalid or a phase. Additionally, they experience oppression within the queer community itself. For instance, many in the community believe that a bisexual who dates someone of a different gender doesn’t belong in queer spaces. It’s easy for bisexuals to feel as though they don’t belong in any space. Having more representation for them on the printed page is all the more important.

Pansexual VS. Bisexual: The Ongoing Discussion

A Fresh Take

What I love so much about THE BIG BOOK OF BISEXUAL TRIALS AND ERRORS is that it doesn’t start the way one might expect. Bisexuality is often underrepresented in media and discussions. Still, there tends to be a common narrative for sexual self-discovery. Often, media depicts bisexual women as dating men their whole lives. Society normalizes close relationships between women that blur the line between friendship and romantic/sexual intimacy. Meanwhile, women’s attraction to men is seen as the “default.” It’s what many think should be the obvious and easily understood part of bisexuality. I believe that’s why, in media, bisexual women start off believing they’re straight.

It may be what’s common, but depicting a variety of experiences is important. For one thing, bisexuals often don’t experience attraction in the exact same way to different genders. They often have a preference for one gender over another as well. For those women who prefer women, an attraction to men can make them feel just as confused as a bisexual who thought she was straight her whole life. THE BIG BOOK OF BISEXUAL TRIALS AND ERRORS tackles this experience in particular. Elizabeth is certain she’s a lesbian until she ends up in a relationship with a man named James.

Image Courtesy of Northwest Press.

Beyond Sexuality

The story that unravels is authentic and nuanced. It’s not just about a quest for a girlfriend. It’s about Elizabeth’s struggle with how she sees herself after weight gain. Her self-image impedes her own ability to properly put herself out there to make romantic connections. It doesn’t center a queer story around seeking love in a homophobic world. Instead, it places a queer woman at the center of a problem so many people can relate to. It doesn’t just equate Elizabeth to her bisexuality. She’s a complex person with a variety of problems. Some of these problems are relevant to her sexuality, and others are irrelevant.

A Frank Discussion

Image Courtesy of Northwest Press.

I was completely taken off guard when THE BIG BISEXUAL BOOK OF TRIALS AND ERRORS dove into a very candid discussion about sex. I wasn’t displeased or uncomfortable. It’s just so unusual to see anything that isn’t explicitly about sex talked about so openly. It’s a great inclusion — and an important one! People often view queer women –particularly bisexual or pansexual women — as hypersexual. To combat that, sometimes media overcompensates and desexualizes them entirely. This comic does an outstanding job of making queer women fully realized people who are in control of whatever sex life (or lack thereof) they wish to have.

MONSTERPOP: Writing Bisexual Characters

The honesty doesn’t stop at sex, however. Beier is very open about her struggle with accepting her body. She depicts a very real and painful journey where, ultimately, her body isn’t the thing keeping her from happiness. Rather, it’s her attitude about her body. She doesn’t pretend that loving one’s own body is easy. However, she stresses that it is important. Her self-acceptance is vital because this also expresses the point that women of any size can be beautiful and sexual.

Intriguing Artwork

The artwork in THE BIG BOOK OF BISEXUAL TRIALS AND ERRORS is incredibly welcoming. I know that may be an odd way to describe art. However, Beier really makes the content accessible with her illustrations. The story is obviously personal to her, but it’s the artwork that drives that intimacy home. Beier really captures the energy of people — the best and worst parts of them. Plus, the illustrations get more sure and confident as the comic goes on, staying on par with the story. I love when she breaks out of the clean, boxy panel form, too. This allows for a very organic, abstract, and immersive visual form to take shape.

Image Courtesy of Northwest Press.

I feel as though Beier draws herself with less detail than she affords people. It’s a little strange to me. It may have been purposeful. Then again, it may have been psychological and subconscious. It’s certainly not a huge gripe on my end. But I love the art so much that I just always want it all.

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Perhaps I was wrong at the top of this article to say that the title was misleading. This comic is about bisexuality. However, it doesn’t equate that to sex alone. I’ll say instead that the title is unexpected. A little surprise is nice in representation. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this comic to anyone, queer or otherwise. It’s an important queer story, but it expands outward to fully capture human nature.

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