Cartoonist Sam Szabo opens her sidesplitting collection of comic strips with a disarming introduction to the Enlightened Transsexual, a cosmic entity so advanced as to have "experienced life as at least three genders... tantamount to omnipotence." She is brimming with wisdom and willing to entertain the burning questions of mere mortals: "What an opportunity this is for you." It's this mixture of earnestness and egotism that provides the backbone for what is a truly hilarious body of work.
Each vignette, such as "The Enlightened Transsexual in 'Transcendental Medication'" and "...Census and Sensibility," is a veritable buffeting of punch lines. A census worker at the door learns that the ET's birthplace was primordial ooze, her orientation is chaotic neutral, and her preference for Mac or PC is a much too personal question to answer. These gags are assembled in vibrant and psychedelic drawings that have just the right amount of frenzied verve to nail the irreverent, and sometimes unhinged, sense of humor behind them.
What grounds these comics, though, is a poignant attention to the indignities that trans people face in a world filled with absurdities. In the increasingly meta latter half, the ET descends on a younger version of herself with some tough love about how camp and silliness is one way of refusing to let her hecklers win. "Is a little panache too much to ask for?" she says, more than a little annoyed with her own timidity. Perfectly balanced and ridiculously funny, Enlightened Transsexual Comix is an out-of-this-world parade of earthly delights, for fans of Lynda Barry and Adult Swim. --Dave Wheeler, associate editor, Shelf Awareness