Autobiographies are a dangerous creature. If you think of a story as a product, something a writer produces for consumption by readers, then when you craft an autobiographical work, the product isn’t merely your story – it’s you. In many ways, what you’re selling is yourself. (This is an update to an old review I had removed. I feel that it now meets my new standards.)
So while a poor writer of fiction may merely find their work the target of scorn, a poor autobiographer may well find that scorn targeting themself.
The corrolary to that is that it’s impossible to criticize Erika Moen’s DAR without criticizing Moen herself.
I don’t like writing failing grade reviews. I didn’t start this site to be the next Your Webcomic is Bad and You Should Feel Bad. I’m not a mean-spirited person, and I don’t like mocking things that people work hard on and put on the internet for free. Even if a comic truly deserves it, choosing to review it means that I have to spend a lot of time looking at comics I hate, trying to find examples of why I hate them. It’s a bad business and it leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.
So why am I singling out DAR? Why waste my time on it? Well, in truth, it’s because I saw it on another one of those goddamn “Best Queer Webcomics” lists, and at some point you have to say that enough is enough.
DAR is an autobio comic, now completed thank god, in which Moen delightedly regales readers with the scatological details of her life. It has pretty much two notes: Moen agonizing over her queer identity after dating/marrying a man, and
fart jokes farts. (There aren’t actually any jokes, we’re just expected to find farts inherently entertaining.)
Now obviously a journal comic is a great and expected place to work through your feelings about your identity, as Moen does, but when the conclusion you repeatedly draw at the end of these comics (she has multiple that are essentially identical in format) is that it’s super fun to objectify women with your straight husband, you fucked up dude. You fucked up bad.
And that’s a pattern throughout Moen’s work. In her revelations of her self, she attempts to connect with the reader, either through relatability of her feelings and experiences, or through notability of the stories she has to tell. Instead, she merely reveals just how repellant of a person she is.
Forget about how she’s a goddamned adult drawing comics about wiping her boogers on the wall with apparently zero self-consciousness. If her work were merely gross, I would just ignore it, but I can’t ignore that this cissexist, ableist, misogynist crap is constantly hailed as some sort of essential queer reading. Moen condemns herself by her own words and pictures.
Maybe I should give her a bit more credit. She did offer an apology for her awful, cissexist, fetishizing “Transmen” comic – though kind of a weak one that didn’t address people’s specific concerns with it. And she at least had enough shame about her racism to scour the collage she made – about why she’s afraid of black men – from the internet after being called out for it. No apology for that one.
Anyway, Moen has a new comic now called Oh Joy Sex Toy where she reviews sex toys and talks about sex generally, and I have to say I find the idea of her being a sex educator frankly terrifying.
Final verdict: Even if you really, truly want to spend precious time out of your short life reading a comic about queefing, you could do better than Moen’s insufferable, offensive work. I mean, well, you probably can’t actually. I guess that technically when it comes to comics about queefing, Erika Moen is probably the best there is.