REVIEW: 'Alice in Leatherland' #3 by Iolanda Zanfardino and Elisa Romboli

 Alice is making friends and starting a new job. The only uncertain thing is her love life. Between an old love and a potential new one are some bad dates. 'Alice in Leatherland' is a great palette cleanser for a bad day. 


ALICE IN LEATHERLAND #3

Writer: Iolanda Zanfardino

Artist: Elisa Romboli

Publisher: Black Mask Studios

Release Date: June 9, 2021

Cover Price: $3.99

Valentine's Day can be a rough time of year if your fairytale fantasy doesn't hold up to reality. What are the chances of mending a broken heart on a dating app? Probably not too far off from the chances of mending your broken heart in a sex-positive shop... but, at least at the shop fun is guaranteed!

Score:

★★★★☆ (4/5)

'Alice in Leatherland' continues to be a charming, wholesome, funny, LGBTQ version of 'Sex in the City.' The romantic trials and tribulations of Alice, new to San Francisco, mending a broken heart, navigating a whole new set of friends, awkwardly looking for love while trying to finish writing her children's book has been a delight. It's not your typical comic book and thank goodness for that. 

It's Valentine's Day and Alice has a big presentation at her work, Leatherland, and the complete support and hyping up by her housemates is so overwhelmingly joyful and positive that it struck me as rare. How often do we see such unabashedly heartwarming kindness not just in comics but in real life? I'm sure it happens and perhaps social media has made me more cynical but it's vitally important to see it in our entertainment especially for traditionally marginalized people. 

Of course, the presentation doesn't go quite as planned and her boss decides to help her set up a sexy profile on a dating app to help her get over her ex. With the help of her friends, she goes on a series of dates. Iolanda Zanfardino writes some funny true-to-life scenes that expose Alice to some less-than-ideal experiences. It's just the type of growth she needs though as evidenced by the steps she takes to aid in her sexual awakening. Meanwhile, Alice's awkward unspoken love for Robin advances in ways that are sweet and relatable. 

When comics are described as LGBTQ-friendly there's a misconception that it's somehow exclusionary or insularly or even foreign. 'Alice in Leatherland' shows just how wrong that perception is. Its universal themes of love and friendship are as relatable and as inclusive as any form of storytelling told about cisgendered characters. This is a romantic and funny slice-of-life tale with emotional stakes that feel genuine and impactful. 

Elisa Romboli's wonderful and expressive characterizations give the series an exuberance and buoyancy that carries the emotional weight of the characters from scene to scene. Sometimes with big splashy heart-covered panels, sometimes with quiet tears, and sometimes with a simple text message on a cell phone, Romboli conveys so much with the art alone. And the book-within-a-book of the pages of Alice's children's story corresponding with the events of her life, only G-rated, are beautifully designed and authentic-looking. Romboli's versatility as an artist is exemplary. 

'Alice in Leatherland' continues to be a delight. Dare I say it's the 'Ted Lasso' of sexy, funny, gay, rom-coms. The sweet-natured Alice is finding her way amid heartbreak, new friends, and a potential new romance. This is 'Sex and the City' if Carrie Bradshaw was likable, young, queer, and black. It's such a charming and wholesome read. 

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