Tits, Ass & Real Estate
by Eve Gilbert
(Fantagraphics, 2003)

Anyone thinking of doing drugs should read this graphic novel. This autobiographical tale unflinchingly shows the absolute worst of human nature.

The subtitle to Tits, Ass & Real Estate is "An Autobiographical Road Trip Through the Other America." The "Other America" includes those that society wants to ignore: the homeless, drug addicts, welfare addicts, sexual predators, etc. Every vice, every weakness, every addiction -- it's in there. Eve Gilbert has experienced many horrible things, from abandoning her child to drug addiction to wandering the streets. There's almost a sense of pride -- a braggadocio -- by the author of how much she's done and still lived to tell the tale. This is especially evident in the author's own words in a brief interview included in the back of the book.

On the surface, I don't like Tits, Ass & Real Estate. The artwork and composition are absolutely horrible. The human figures are distorted and do not show any consistency from panel to panel. In many panels, Gilbert supplies notes explaining what a particular object is. This is not a literary device, but a necessity to understand just what the hell she drew. And if the artwork isn't confusing and difficult enough, the lettering is even worse. I had to take several breaks reading this to avoid a headache. She also misspells words like "stuiped" and "pregnate" over and over.

With all the negative characteristics to Tits, Ass & Real Estate, I really appreciate Gilbert's work. She candidly reveals every aspect of the life she's lived. Her horrible choices, her drug addictions, even her abandoning her child to her parents -- she doesn't try to justify her actions at all. She has turned her life into an open book and shares everything.

In many ways, everything that is wrong with this book is also what is right with it. This kind of tale would not have the same effect if it was drawn by an Archie Comics' artist. The distorted figures, the discontinuity, the confusing lettering and the incongruities offer the reader the slightest insight into madness and depravity. Tits, Ass & Real Estate is a troubling story with brutal honesty that will not be enjoyed, but should be appreciated.

- Rambles
written by C. Nathan Coyle
published 1 November 2003

Buy it from Amazon.com.