Page 45 Review by Stephen
So substantially expanded that this new edition now runs to 300 pages, the first printing was a massive hit here, as was Eleanour's signing with us at The Lakes International Comic Art Festival, where her adorable Dad proved to be a total poppet.
The new pages are far more revealing, for example, of toxic workplaces so casually homophobic as to be crippling; you wouldn't necessarily have thought that about restaurants, would you? Le sigh. Nevertheless, while this is indeed a more substantial recollection, I stick with everything I wrote below a couple of years ago...
Deliriously good-humoured, bright, breezy and fun, this has far broader in appeal than its titular remit suggests.
It's emphatically not about being gay and it's about far, far more than discovering you're gay: it's about discovering your individuality, whoever you are, and it's a testament to Eleanor's individuality that I recognised so little of it in my own hilariously dim-witted journey. I've never done self-aware!
The key image to this chirpiness is dear, dear Crewes cheerily waving from an open-door, airy and comfortably spacious closet!
It's not something she's ever been trapped in - she didn't even realise there was one, let alone that she'd been residing within it for so long that her rent was overdue - so there's no darkness here, only light.
She'll be merrily popping back and forth from that closet so many times it isn't true, coming spontaneously out as gay to friends with a grand announcement at 01:30am on 1st January 2014 (good timing!), before diving immediately back into boys and waiting two whole years before jumping joyfully out four more times.
"It wasn't such an epiphany as last time.
"It was more like... small moments of clarity."
That, I definitely recognise!
I particularly enjoyed Eleanor coming out separately to her dad, her mother, her brother and her bedroom. Yes, her bedroom. She had to tell her bedroom first.
"I threw the words around my room, a place where I had slept since I was a baby. The wallpaper, decorations and bedding had changed over the years but this room was mine. It had housed me over all this time, so it felt right that it was the first to know."
There's some delicious verbal imagery coming up!
"I lay in bed and imagined the words squeezing out from under my door, finding themselves in the hallway and splitting off - some ran into the bathroom and laid against the cool of the tiles, others slipped downstairs, spilling over the banister and splashing up the walls of my kitchen - they sped into the living room and pulled open the books, tore out the words and replaced them with me. Me and my house were roaring into new life whilst also staying exactly the same - "I'm gay!""
The medium, as I say, is a free-form fusion, bursts of pencil illustrations pouring out onto the paper before and after bouts of more in-depth illustrated prose. The forms grow grander as Crewes' self-confidence blossoms, putting me firmly in mind of Eleanor Davis (WHY ART? YOU & A BIKE & A ROAD and HOW TO BE HAPPY), while her young schoolgirl mouth gapes innocently away like Simone Lia's do (see FLUFFY, PLEASE GOD FIND ME A HUBAND etc).
On to secondary school and Miss Oblivious's flirting techniques with boys - all three steps of them - are determined: research each boy meticulously (clothes, television shows), execute extensive prep (buy matching clothes, devour entire TV seasons over the weekend), then...
"As soon as I know that they fancy me back, decide it's too stressful and what you've now built as friendship is too valuable to potentially lose."
Young Eleanor mops her brow. "Phew."
There will be plenty about Buffy and Willow...
"The Buffy craze turned into something much bigger.
"The Buffy craze turned into the Willow craze and that was a different kind of craze altogether."
... and wait until you meet Eleanor's fab family!
Telling her Dad: awwww!
What a family of lovelies!