Hungry Bottom comics are clever, sassy, funny, artful, bratty…and insightful and wise. The theme for Williams’ biographical comic is emblazoned boldly on the first volume’s front cover: “Wow, you are a hungry bottom!” Williams prefaces his book by saying that some of the comics began as single-page “zingers.” That said, he’s done a great job of merging these single shots into the narrative of his tale.

These are stories of self-discovery, so it stands to reason that at the beginning our hero is young, excited, randy, somewhat naïve, sometimes bratty and ready for anything. He’s a bottom, but a tough, persistent, and self-affirming one (even in the face of ever-persistent bullying) and that is where some of the one-shot panels really excel. An excellent one page spread called “Through the Years” portrays four panels, each with only one speech bubble of dialog: “Faggot.” The dialog bubble in the first panel comes from an accusatory finger-pointer, labeling the young Williams who is playing dolls with a girl on the playground. The second panel shows Williams as a young man in a movie theater on a date with a girl, his own thought bubble questioning, “Faggot?” The third panel shows him nestled in another boy’s crotch sucking away (next to textbooks and Teen Titans comics), and this thought bubble flatly says, “[…]Faggot.” The fourth panel shows him smiling towards the mirror at the completion of a great haircut, “Faggot! ” and with his stylist looking on, we see he’s discovered himself and his wider community.

What’s fun about these comics is watching Williams grow. In the first comic, Jean Genet, Camille Paglia and Beyoncé quotations fuel his explorations of clubbing, sex, and what it means to be a gay man. Reading his comics of sexual adventure (and I mean both reading the dialog and reading the pictures) is like eating chocolate swirl ice cream—you have to follow lots of twists and turns to get all the good stuff.

But love arises in the oddest places, even in a life of complete slutdom. Williams loves and loses, and grows up a little. A broken condom and an AIDS test makes Williams grow up a lot. Williams admits, about how he’s changed, “While self-acceptance is a big part of that, it also involves admitting the extent to which I’ve been complicit in instances of cowardice and disrespect.” Realization of his own faulty humanity is what makes Williams’ comics wise.

The ends of Book 1 and Book 2 especially, explore how Williams finds a queer community, and how he then reworks the identities that community offers him to define himself. Book 2 includes a fun romp, “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” and “Christeene,” where Christeene tells the young Williams, “ I get to be your drag mother!” There’s a piece exploring celibacy and another that’s a fun merging of divas in “Beyoko Yokonce.”

Williams’ line drawings remind me of scratchboard illustrations, because he uses texture, crosshatching, and dark space to keep his images varied. I loved the way his comics look printed in colored ink (purple for book one, pine green for book two) with orange added to both covers to make them pop. These comics look unique and confident, the assured work of an artist who has found his drawing voice, and is excited to explore it.

The back cover of book two quotes Claude Cahun: “Beneath this mask, another mask. I will never be finished peeling off all these faces.” Hopefully that’s true for Williams, and it foretells lots more of Williams’ talented biographical exploration in the future.

 

Hungry Bottom Comics #1; Wow, you are a Hungry Bottom
By Eric Kostiuk Williams
Hungry Bottom Comics
Paperback,  28 pp.
April 2012

Hungry Bottom Comics #2; 2 Fag  2 Furious 
By Eric Kostiuk Williams
Hungry Bottom Comics
Paperback, 20 pp.
April  2013


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  • Ron Fritsch

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