This graphic novel by Joseph Kai, Restless, is a quick but not easy read. Things are a bit abstract, surreal and very introspective all at once. The reality of the times and the dreams and fears Kai’s character unfolds is a bumpy path. The art is either a like or not, really little to no in-between. There are possible triggers with nudity, violence, sexual situations, and GLBTQ issues.
Overall, this book is not for everyone, but perhaps everyone should read it. We are looking into the world of Beirut, Lebanon, and the community that is forced into the shadows. A world that wants to be free of the oppression of their society. To be themselves. But the laws and the people around them prevent that. We follow Samar, a queer comic creator, in 2020 before devastating events will take place. And we see his exploration, such as his lifestyle of random meet ups for sex and the nightmares he has; and his friends’ explorations, the danger they live in (a trans performance artist is arrested for their performance, but their families wealth allows for a very large bribe to be given for their release, yet who knows what happened to them in the meantime) and more.
Concepts, ideas and contradictions all come into play. There are some flashbacks to when Samar was a child and the dangers and situations he faced then, vs. the now and the dangers and situations he still faces. We discuss the performers’ art and what they should have done or what should be allowed. And of course the political situation is in play. And this is all shown in some awkward art. Colors are used, but not in ways you might expect. The people sometimes look like caricatures. The reality is played with mixing styles. Things are flat and details range from nothing to too much.
Currently available but I read via an online reader copy.