In Alice in Leatherland #2, the titular Alice finds herself losing old friends, but making new and unusual ones. Stepping out of her comfort zone still isn’t easy but Alice puts in all the effort to adjust to her new life. Will it be enough for her to fit in?
Alice in Leatherland #2
Elisa Romboli (Artist), Iolanda Zanfardino (Writer)
Black Mask Studios
May 26, 2021
I am enjoying this series so much! I adored the first issue and Alice in Leatherland #2 gives me more of what I loved. Alice continues to be a delight to read. She’s naïve and optimistic, which makes her heartbreak so painful to witness. Her determination to power through and cement a new life for herself in San Francisco is admirable. It’s never easy uprooting yourself—I’ve done it a few times and it’s tough—and Alice’s fortitude makes me hopeful for her journey.
Alice in Leatherland #2 did give us an unexpected curveball though—Alice’s best friend, Robin, who was so kind in the first issue, adds to Alice’s heartbreak in this follow-up. Alice is only in San Francisco because Robin was moving there for work and asked Alice to join her. Robin also dropped some hints that she had feelings for Alice, but Alice was too heartbroken to pick up on them.
But in this issue, we see that while Alice is still dealing with her recent break-up, Robin is living it up. Robin’s taken to the queer scene in San Francisco like a duck to water—and she’s racking up the notches on her bedpost. Which would be fine if it didn’t mean that Robin was abandoning Alice as a result, in her time of need.
The way writer Iolanda Zanfardino and artist Elisa Romboli render the scene where Alice and Robin part ways is amazing. You can clearly see it from both characters’ points of view—Robin doesn’t want to miss out on the fun, nor does she want to look like a killjoy, while Alice is obviously feeling a bit needy for her friend’s attention and is also uncomfortable in San Francisco’s flamboyant queer scene. There’s also the added tension arising from the fact that Robin fits in and Alice still doesn’t.
The art also depicts how Alice stands out from the crowd, and not always in a good way. Her clothes, her attitude, and her introversion are in complete contrast to everyone around her. Alice is overdressed for the occasion and wearing a generic-looking t-shirt. Robin is wearing little to nothing, baring the dragonfly tattoo on her ribs proudly, pride flags painted on her cheeks. Robin easily fits into the loud, proud queer crowd. She’s clearly further on her journey to acceptance than Alice is. That’s what the series is about—getting Alice to the point where she can accept love and happiness even after heartbreak.
Alice in Leatherland #2 also shows readers why Robin and Alice aren’t already together. I had been wondering about that since I read the opening issue—they have shared interests and are working together on Alice’s fairy tale. But we learn that Robin has a set of rules and being with Alice would break them.
It’s an interesting juxtaposition between the two characters. Robin is extremely open to new experiences—so open that she may be bordering on being hedonistic? But at the same time, she’s tied herself up in these rules—no pun intended—that are actively destroying her happiness. On the other hand, Alice is pretty closed off, almost prudish, but she’s ready to break her rules if it means fitting in better and finding the next stop on her adventure.
I must say, Robin doesn’t come across as very likable in this issue, but I still ship her and Alice, even if their relationship is in turmoil right now. Who doesn’t love a messy queer romance?
Despite broadcasting its kinkiness in the title, Alice in Leatherland #2 is as much about friendship as it is about kinky queer culture. Yes, there are some moments where Alice is becoming accustomed to her kink-forward roommates, but she’s also learning how to make friends in her new city. Making friends as an adult is hard and I love that Alice has found people who want to befriend her as much as she wants to befriend them. There’s a moment that Alice’s friends share while she is asleep that honestly brought a tear to my eye. It is so sweet and so beautifully worded that I can’t wait to read about this friendship blossoming in upcoming issues. It’s clear that Alice and her new companions don’t always see eye to eye when it comes to queer culture and kink. But I get the distinct feeling that, by the end of the series, Alice will accept that the kink sphere is as normal as any other. Even if she isn’t interested in participating in kink, that is where her friends are most comfortable, and they will find a happy medium where they all feel safe and accepted.
I had enjoyed the interplay of art and text in the first issue, and Alice in Leatherland #2 takes it to a whole new level. There are panels and pages with barely any dialogue that tell you so much about the interactions between characters. I loved the page where Alice finds a book of memories she had put together with her ex. There’s no dialogue but the expressions of longing and despair on Alice’s face are so lifelike that you know exactly what’s going through her mind. A few pages later, we get another dialogue-less sequence where Alice is telling her new friends her breakup story as well as some fun anecdotes from her past. The expressions on all three faces are unique and completely believable. Everything I love about the unique medium of comics is captured in this book.
Having read two issues of this series, I can highly recommend it. You can come here for the kink, but you’ll be leaving with a full heart because the story is so sweet and lovable, as are the cast of characters. Alice in Leatherland #2 ups the relationship drama, spices up the kinky and queer visuals, but never forgets that its heart lies in the dynamics between its characters. I will definitely be waiting with bated breath for the next issue.