Book review: The Completely Unfabulous Social Life of Ethan Green

The Completely Unfabulous Social Life of Ethan Green
By Eric Orner
Published by Northwest Press
ISBN 978-1928720826
Review copy provided by the publisher (Thanks, Zan!)

Review by Ginger Mayerson

I liked The Mostly Unfabulous Social Life of Ethan Green comics. I remember enjoying reading them in the 80s, but I’m not sure where I was reading them. The legendary, and greatly missed, Funny Times comics newspaper? I don’t know, I just don’t know. What don’t remember from that time was how many of these comics were about the AIDS epidemic or pandemic, I guess is what it finally ended up being called.

Interestingly, in the early Ethan Green comics concerned with HIV, there was more safe sex than in the later comics, presumably after AZT came along. In later comics, there’s considerably fewer mentions of safe sex. This is interesting to me, because in the first issue of the legendary Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society, there is an interesting article on the misconceptions and apathy about HIV infections, and how rather frightening that is to anyone who spends some time thinking about it. (J LHLS Issue 1, Volume 1 (scroll down, you’ll see it).

There are few moments in Ethan Green’s story I can really relate to, due to being in completely different social circles, eras, he’s a cartoon character, I’m a real person (I am! I really am!), and also that Ethan’s social life seems pretty damn fabulous to me: discos, dates, parties, travel! What do men really want? Hell if I know. I think Ethan and I would have very different memories and reactions to the late 20th century, but we would both still vote Democrat, so there’s that. I imagine Ethan would still be voting Democrat in 2016 if he were real. I know will, because I’m registered to vote as a Democrat (and I’m real). It’s not at all necessary to agree politically with a comic to enjoy it, but it certainly helps. On the other hand, I can’t think of any comics I enjoy that I don’t agree with politically, more or less. I can think of a few that annoy me occasionally, but… well, anyway. If I were a saint, I’d have ascended to heaven body and soul by now, and not be writing this or voting Democrat in 2016. (And if you’re not registered to vote, please do so. You can also look up your State’s Secretary of State, yes, that’s what that does. This has been a Mayerson Service Announcement.)

The Completely Unfabulous Social Life of Ethan Green is a great collection. It is another beautifully designed and published book by Northwest Press. Although I find $24.99 rather on the expensive side for a paperback, I totally understand that those print runs do not pay for themselves. But for any fan of gay comics in the last 30 years, this is a must have book, and a worthwhile investment. I’m just glad Northwest is publishing this stuff, and I’m sure there’s a copy in the Library of Congress. And if there isn’t, there should be.