All this month I'll be reviewing different comic books with LGBT themes (LGBT standing for "Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual and Transgender"), based on submissions from the actual creators of the comic books themselves. Here is an archive of the comics featured so far!
Today we take a look at a darkly fascinating piece of historical fiction from writer Tina Anderson, penciler Lynlsey Brito and screentone artist Caroline Monaco, titled Games With Me, about a Civil War veteran searching for his step-mother and step-brother in Chinatown in San Francisco in the late 1860s. When he finds his step-brother...well...things get a bit disturbing.
George Callahan is a Civil War veteran (he was a medic during the war) who now works as an abortion doctor for a fellow who runs brothels. Callahan does this because he is addicted to opium, and he needs to do whatever he can do to get his fix.
Meanwhile, Callahan is also searching Chinatown for his father's second wife, a Chinese woman, and her son, George's step-brother.
In Games With Me, Volume 1, George encounters a teenaged prostitute named Jun, who reminds George of his step-brother, Juniper (heck, for all we know, it IS Juniper). Jun has some sort of mental handicap - he is 17 years old but seemingly has the mind of a child. Despite this, George and he grow close. They even have sex a few times. Jun feels as though George is his "boyfriend."
At the same time, though, the enforcer for this particular brothel (a fellow Civil War veteran who knows Callahan from the war) is also in "love" with Jun and is quite brutal in demonstrating that love. Here's that guy, Baxter, with Jun...
As you might imagine, the whole thing is pretty disturbing (underage sex with a mentally challenged prostitute will do that). However, Anderson does a wonderful job at making the whole thing quite fascinating, even if it is dark and disturbing.
Here is George interacting with Sung, his opium connection....
Brito does a marvelous job with the artwork for this volume - she tells the story quite well.
Really, while the subject matter of this comic might be on the rough side, it is not like Anderson condones the behavior in the volume - George's actions with Jun are not romanticized in the comic. We get that Jun lives a pretty dreadful existence (as George notes at one point, Jun seems to have never actually left the brothel!). The whole thing is delivered well by Anderson and Brito. They make it a compelling story, even if it is a disturbing one, as well.