Writer/Artist: MJ Wallace
Bi The Way is an autobiographical offering from Scottish creator MJ Wallace, dealing with the challenges of discovering her bisexuality, but doing so in a humorous, upbeat and ultimately positive way. It puts the “bi” in autobiography, y’all.
Now, reviewing a comic like this throws up some interesting challenges, since you’re essentially reviewing someone else’s life experience and judging how well it ‘works’ as a story. Weird, right? That said, MJ does a terrific job of structuring things here, throwing humour, emotion and educational tidbits into the mix, resulting in a touching and hopefully helpful account of her own experiences as a bi woman.
First and foremost, it feels like MJ is targeting this book at people in the same boat as her, and rightfully so. We find out a little about her own moment of realisation and the confusion that came along with it, as well as the difficulty of coming out out to her friends and family – including her current boyfriend – and the ongoing challenges of being bi in today’s society. Obviously everyone’s story and situations are different, but MJ does a great job of painting in broad strokes, with a message of acceptance and validity that I’d imagine a lot of people could really do with hearing.
From her indirect discovery during a tabletop RPG session to examples of specific criticisms she has dealt with (“not gay enough”, “looking for attention”, etc.), this is a deeply intimate and possibly even therapeutic process for MJ, breaking down her initial confusion and ultimate realisation in a light-hearted but unflinchingly honest manner.
The artwork is straightforward in its simplicity, with some creative layouts and an always expressive depiction of herself narrating the story. MJ’s sense of humour shines throughout the course of the book, from her imagination conjuring up the ‘worst case scenarios’ of her coming out, to the depiction of her boyfriend Ryan, who – for reasons best known to himself – requested to be drawn as a giant bear in glasses. I’m not going to question it though, because it’s brilliant, and provides an undercurrent of humour, even during the more emotionally taxing moments.
What’s also great about this book is that while it’s undoubtedly going to provide a lot of assistance and support for people struggling to pin down their own sexuality or live with the challenges of being bi in today’s largely heteronormative society, it also provides a lot of assistance for the friends and families of bisexual people. Guidance on how best to react to someone coming out to you (basically don’t be a dick or make it all about you), phrases not to use (“I’m okay with it as long as you’re not shoving it in my face” is a particularly bad one, obviously) and ridiculous topics of conversation to avoid (y’know, threesome jokes) are all delivered earnestly and directly, hopefully giving the otherwise oblivious an idea of what they should and shouldn’t do.
Packed with useful information, humour (sooo many bi puns!) and an underlying message of acceptance, positivity and validity, Bi The Way is a deeply personal offering that should have something to offer for pretty much anyone who takes the time to pick it up. Go out and bi it now! (Sorry)
You can grab yourself a copy of Bi The Way from MJ’s Etsy here: bit.ly/BiTheWayEtsy, and make sure to check out https://mjwallace.com and
https://breakfastskates.com for more information about her upcoming work.