My Brain Hurts: Volume One
Liz Baillie’s character Kate Callahan is everything that I wish I had been in school, as well as everything that I’m glad I wasn’t: a punk dyke; Mohawk-wearing, patches held on with safety pins-styling, multiple girlfriends-loving activist; and all-around New York City street-roamer. Think Diane DiMassa’s _Hothead Paisan _before she turned homicidal and got a cat. You could say that Kate’s a homicidal lesbian terrorist in the making—and in a good way, too.
While these character traits can be admirable in young queer activists, Kate is, at times, a little too rebellious for her own good, as she constantly teeters on the edge of getting kicked out of school. I’m inspired by Kate’s spirit, but I’m also aware of the grown-up in me telling me not to mess up my life. These are the complex reasons why I’m in love with My Brain Hurts.
Baillie’s drawings of Kate and her high school life are descriptive, ratty, fun, and what make up the intensity of story. A graphic novel compilation of the first five zines in Baillie’s series of the same name is both a harsh reminder of how difficult high school can be for queer youth, but the stories can also be a best friend for someone currently going through that struggle.
Aside from the rich drawings and Kate’s engaging personality, Baillie’s cast of characters is also amazing: Kate’s way-gay best friend Joey is fabulously flamboyant in a true but not mocking way, Desi is the Latina activist who can sway a crowd better than Barack Obama, and Verona is the older woman (yeah, she’s sixteen, and that’s old in this thirteen-year-old crowd) who digs polyamory. Through chugging 40’s and adventurous games of spin-the-bottle, Kate finds her sexuality in a tangle of identity confusion. Underlying this youthful narrative is a political beat that keeps a steady rhythm on each enjoyable page. My Brain Hurts is a great series for queer youth and older queer activists to relish together.