Men I Trust by Tommi Parrish

Cover image for Men I trust by Tommi Parrish

Review: Men I Trust
by Tommi Parrish. Fantagraphics, November 2022. 208 p. ill. ISBN 978-1683966500(h/c), $34.99.

Reviewed August 2023 by Caroline Meyers, Research and Collections Specialist, VCU Special Collections and Archives,

Men I Trust follows two young women attempting to connect amidst their individual healing journeys. Eliza struggles to find ease in her personal life while juggling work, therapy and mothering. Sasha pursues relationships obsessively while trying to step fully into adult life. The two meet at one of Eliza’s poetry gigs and orbit each other ambiguously throughout the novel. Alternatingly platonic, romantic, adversarial, and confessional, the relationship between these two characters reflects the various precarities young, queer women are subject to in contemporary life.

Parrish’s meticulous, hand-painted panels could each stand alone as works of art. Lush environments offset inexact figures whose skin tone and hair color vary subtly from panel to panel. The figures are slumped and sausage-like, never sexualized–Parrish’s style reflects the myriad forces that wear on these characters and arrest their ability to form healthy relationships. Edges overlap and background bleeds into text, emphasizing disorientation.

Notably, Parrish weaves representations of other narrative or entertainment sources throughout the text such as the cartoons Eliza puts on to distract her son, or the podcast another character listens to in the car. These media, while visually distinct from the world Eliza and Sasha inhabit, are omnipresent. These characters keep hoping one of these voices will tell them what to do.

Men I Trust grapples with heavy themes including addiction, suicidal ideation, and sex work and is therefore recommended primarily for adult audiences. It would be a strong addition for academic libraries as well as public libraries with graphic novel collections tailored towards adults.

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