Flocks
L. Nichols, a trans man, artist, engineer and father of two, was born in rural Louisiana, assigned female and raised by conservative Christians. Flocks is his memoir of that childhood, and of his family, friends and community, the flocks of Flocks, that shaped and re-shaped him. L.'s irresistibly charming drawings demonstrate what makes Flocks so special: L.'s boundless empathy.

Flocks Details

TitleFlocks
Author
ReleaseSep 15th, 2018
PublisherSecret Acres
ISBN-139780999193525
Rating
GenreSequential Art, Graphic Novels, Comics, Lgbt, Autobiography, Memoir, Glbt, Queer, Graphic Novels Comics

Flocks Review

  • David Schaafsma
    January 1, 1970
    In the close to 70 glbtq graphic memoirs and fiction I have read in the past couple years, very few deal with the faith complications that coming out can entail. As the Crow Flies by Melanie Gilman was one I recall. I think most of them assume that when you come out you also come clean out of your (conservative) religious background that condemns you as gay sinner. This book is an exception to that rule: Nichols is nearly crushed by his sense of himself as sinner, but never gives up on his faith In the close to 70 glbtq graphic memoirs and fiction I have read in the past couple years, very few deal with the faith complications that coming out can entail. As the Crow Flies by Melanie Gilman was one I recall. I think most of them assume that when you come out you also come clean out of your (conservative) religious background that condemns you as gay sinner. This book is an exception to that rule: Nichols is nearly crushed by his sense of himself as sinner, but never gives up on his faith in God, and finds flocks--church and otherwise that will love and support him. He's gracious, expecting grace.L. Nichols, "born" (or is it assigned?), Laura, is never comfortable in his body, and a familiar story of coming out is told, in the context of a (conservative) Southern Baptist seventies upbringing. It's a pretty straightforwardly told tale, though it is repetitive in its depiction of the struggles, something I associate with its being adapted from the webcomic Nichols constructed over the years. This could have been thinned down. We know people are often narrow-minded and even gay-bashing, especially true of the Louisiana he describes growing up in the seventies, and we know The Church in this time largely saw being gay as sinful, but we hear this again and again in this book. I suppose it's like a nightmare he can't wake up from, an echo he hears every day. But I think if I had not also just read the lyrical and poetic Passing For Human by Liana Finck I might have appreciated this more. I felt like more time could have been spent on the unique aspects of Nichols's positive engagements with religion that keep him in the faith. So there's repetitions, and there's gaps about relationships he develops Some stuff just seems missing in the story.These support groups, friends, the church, some of her family, are his "flocks," and this is a cool and important idea. I also liked Nichols's fun and colorful illustrations, that invite all readers in. But the main audience for this seventies (largely) coming-of-age story might be young people, encouraging them to become the selves they were meant to be (and yes, he's still a Christian at the end).
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  • Kelly
    January 1, 1970
    A touching and whimsically-illustrated memoir about growing up trans and Southern Baptist.(Full disclosure: I received a free e-ARC for review through Edelweiss. Trigger warning for homophobia, depression, self-harm, and eating disorders.)L. Nichols was born in Louisiana (some time in the mid-to-late-1970s, if the rad TMNT reference is any indication!) and assigned female ("Laura") at birth. Raised in a conservative Southern Baptist community, L. always felt different; an outcast, a freak, a sin A touching and whimsically-illustrated memoir about growing up trans and Southern Baptist.(Full disclosure: I received a free e-ARC for review through Edelweiss. Trigger warning for homophobia, depression, self-harm, and eating disorders.)L. Nichols was born in Louisiana (some time in the mid-to-late-1970s, if the rad TMNT reference is any indication!) and assigned female ("Laura") at birth. Raised in a conservative Southern Baptist community, L. always felt different; an outcast, a freak, a sinner. Throughout his childhood and teen years, L. tried to suppress his attraction to girls - and was further confounded by the occasional crushes he developed on boys. While he enjoyed some parts of the church experience - the emphasis on faith, the sense of fellowship, and the feeling that there are things bigger than oneself - his church's virulent homophobia and adherence to rigid gender roles alienated L. and led to isolation, depression, and self-harm. But whereas L.'s community failed him on one front, it succeeded on another: despite his being labeled "female," L.'s family and teachers encouraged him to pursue his love of science and technology, culminating in a Master's degree from the MIT Media Lab. It was during his college years that L. pinpointed the reason for the animosity he felt toward his body, and decided to transition. Flocks is L.'s memoir, told in graphic novel format. The vehicle through which L. chooses to tell his story perfectly encapsulates the many contradictions in his life: while STEM majors aren't typically considered artsy or creative, L. is indeed a talented artist. His sad little rag doll depiction of himself is at once whimsical and rather heartbreaking (doubly so when we witness stuffing fall out of self-inflicted cuts on his legs). Given all he's been through, L.'s upbeat, optimistic attitude is downright uplifting. (And I typically consider myself an Oscar the Grouch type, so that's quite a compliment coming from my neck of the dump.) While the main thrust of the story is L.'s burgeoning sexuality and exploration of his gender identity, he tackles a number of other serious topics as well: his parents' acrimonious divorce; the pressure of choosing a major and settling on a career path, post-graduation; polyamory; eating disorders; self-harm; depression; binge drinking; an appreciation of nature and the natural world; and the impact of community and in-group/out-group identity on one's sense of self. It's an engaging, beautiful story, in both form and content. There's a little bit of repetition of themes and ideas early on (and not between chapters, i.e. to string them together, but within the same chapters), which does detract from the story. Even so, it's a must-read, and not just because it's more or less a one of a kind story, at least at this point in time. (Dear publishers, please give us more of this! Kay thanks bye.)http://www.easyvegan.info/2018/09/14/...
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  • J.T.
    January 1, 1970
    "Boundless empathy" (from the descriptive blurb) is the perfect phrase to describe L. Nichols. He was one of the first cartoonists I met when I first started publishing my work and attending indie comic conventions, and he was welcoming and encouraging from the start. I always look forward to catching up when I see him at shows.I've been excited to read each new issue of Flocks when it was being released as single issues and delighted to see that a wonderful publisher like Secret Acres collectin "Boundless empathy" (from the descriptive blurb) is the perfect phrase to describe L. Nichols. He was one of the first cartoonists I met when I first started publishing my work and attending indie comic conventions, and he was welcoming and encouraging from the start. I always look forward to catching up when I see him at shows.I've been excited to read each new issue of Flocks when it was being released as single issues and delighted to see that a wonderful publisher like Secret Acres collecting all of the initial issues along with three (I think?) new issues/chapters concluding L.'s memoir. Nichols details his early realization that he is "different" from most of his peers. Raised in a very observant Baptist family, he struggles to suppress his sexuality and gender identity. This memoir could easily have become a condemnation of Christianity and rigid ideology, but instead Nichols always recognizes the beneficial aspects of the religion he was raised in, namely community. Luckily, he eventually supplements that community with more accepting communities and friendships along the way to deciding to transition from female to male. I read books and comics to experience different viewpoints or experiences than my own, and this one definitely delivered! A good writer allows you to identify with the protagonist, even if your experiences are vastly different, and again, Nichols delivered.
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  • Adam Stone
    January 1, 1970
    If the first four sections of this book had been consolidated into one, this would have been a four, maybe five star book. The art is great. The message is fantastic. But the first four sections are the same story over and over and over and over again.As a device, I enjoy repetition in poetry and prose, when used sparingly. In a graphic novel, it's exhausting. In many ways, the text of a graphic novel is often already a repetition of the artwork. By the fourth time I saw a three panel grid of on If the first four sections of this book had been consolidated into one, this would have been a four, maybe five star book. The art is great. The message is fantastic. But the first four sections are the same story over and over and over and over again.As a device, I enjoy repetition in poetry and prose, when used sparingly. In a graphic novel, it's exhausting. In many ways, the text of a graphic novel is often already a repetition of the artwork. By the fourth time I saw a three panel grid of one person muttering "faggot", one person muttering "dyke", and a third person muttering "gay", I started skipping pages. The point had fully been made. Even now, being young and queer is hard, but it was certainly more isolating and confusing before the internet. So I understand why so many queer narratives are so focused on the trauma of childhood and adolescence, but the interesting part of this story begins with L's going to college and the journey of acceptance. Unfortunately, by the time that came up, I had come to view the narrator as exhausting, as there was hardly any joy or even neutral events or thoughts in the first 2/5ths of the book.If you're invested in the metaphor of the long, tedious, tortuous youth before a person starts to accept who they are and who they want to be, then this will probably be a five star book. Again, the art is fantastic. I will absolutely pick up another L Nichols book in the future.
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  • Robert
    January 1, 1970
    Finally, L. Nichols' comics-series (from Retrofit) has been collected into one volume! A very honest, moving and big-hearted memoir about growing up queer & isolated in a rural, Southern Baptist community. Recommended, and that includes for YA readers, especially.
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  • Marit Swanson
    January 1, 1970
    One of the most gracious books I’ve ever read— “boundless empathy” is not hyperbole. L is the kind of person we should all strive to be, the kind of artist the world needs.
  • Cy
    January 1, 1970
    a really powerful memoir of a trans man growing up and finding himself. he was born into a very conservative religious family, and the majority of the book is about his struggle trying to fit in with them and hide who he really is. it can be hard to read in parts, but you really root for him to succeed and whenever he does, it just feels really good. :'>i liked how he talked about how he wasn't able to feel a connection with god in his church (which was angry and hateful) but he did feel that a really powerful memoir of a trans man growing up and finding himself. he was born into a very conservative religious family, and the majority of the book is about his struggle trying to fit in with them and hide who he really is. it can be hard to read in parts, but you really root for him to succeed and whenever he does, it just feels really good. :'>i liked how he talked about how he wasn't able to feel a connection with god in his church (which was angry and hateful) but he did feel that connection when he was outside, or with his animals. i could really relate to finding that feeling of "i am a part of something larger" in nature.like some other people have said, there are parts that are a little repetitive and i feel like the book could be pared down a little. but this is probably due to the fact that it was originally released as single issues, not a whole graphic novel. it didn't bother me that much but ymmv.
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  • Monika
    January 1, 1970
    What a powerful graphic novel/memoir. L. Nichols is a trans man who grew up in rural Louisiana as a member of a conservative Christian church, where he grappled with the differences between what he felt and knew to be true, deep within, and the hateful rhetoric he heard all around him. Every memory he shares is full of nuance. Nichols held onto and found solace in his faith in God, appreciated the love and support his church family offered up when needed. He found a way to get out of his small t What a powerful graphic novel/memoir. L. Nichols is a trans man who grew up in rural Louisiana as a member of a conservative Christian church, where he grappled with the differences between what he felt and knew to be true, deep within, and the hateful rhetoric he heard all around him. Every memory he shares is full of nuance. Nichols held onto and found solace in his faith in God, appreciated the love and support his church family offered up when needed. He found a way to get out of his small town, question the "rules", figure out his sexuality and gender identity, avoid becoming bitter, overcome self-destructive behaviors, deepen his own faith and find a church family where he fit in. This memoir is heartbreaking, real, and full of so much love, grace, and hope. Consider this a must-read.
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  • Melissa
    January 1, 1970
    Excellent
  • Mya Alexice
    January 1, 1970
    i love graphic memoirs, and this didn't disappoint. powerful stuff.
  • Andréa
    January 1, 1970
    Note: I accessed a digital review copy of this book through Edelweiss.
  • Akiva
    January 1, 1970
    A bit repetitive in places. Nichols brings it together in unexpected ways, though, illustrating the push and pull of how the same people/communities/institutions can simultaneously cause deep harm and give life-saving support.
  • Tory
    January 1, 1970
    A good message, to be sure, but pretty long-winded at times. I found myself skimming several sections because it kept restating the same thing over and over.
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