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(Gumballs #1-4)

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  302 ratings  ·  55 reviews
Discover the pioneering new comic from transgender cartoonist Erin Nations! Called by critics "funny, sincere, and just generally brilliant," Gumballs is a one-man variety show spanning graphic memoir, observational comedy, razor-sharp character studies, and so much more.

Gumballs dispenses an array of bright, candy-colored short comics about Erin's gender transition, anecd
Paperback, 160 pages
Published July 17th 2018 by Top Shelf Productions (first published May 30th 2018)
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Average rating 3.95  · 
Rating details
 ·  302 ratings  ·  55 reviews

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Stewart Tame
Jan 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is an engaging collection of short comics pieces dealing with various topics. Nations has helpfully provided a color key for those topics on the table of contents--for example, all stories about Tobias have a pink dot next to the title. If, like me, you simply ignore this key and dive in, reading everything straight through, it's still an enjoyable experience. But, when I was collecting my thoughts prior to writing ths review, I thought about how the stories each seem to fit into one of sev ...more
This book collects short stories by Erin Nations, some auto-bio, some fictional. He writes about experiences growing up as a triplet, his transition, working at a grocery store, biking around Portland and road trips. Also included are personal ads of stereotypical Pacific Northwesterners and stories about Tobias, a sweet gay teen plagued by constant unrequited crushes. The different types of material are interspersed a bit randomly, but I enjoyed it all.
Hannah Garden
Jun 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: comics, june-2019
Oh my gaaahhhh!!!! Oh man these are PERFECT I love them so much and only want more. More more moooore.
Rod Brown
Jul 29, 2018 rated it liked it
This is a very uneven short story collection. I really like the sequences about Nation's gender transition and youth as a triplet, but offsetting those were the constant interruption of rather mediocre customers-are-awful gags, tedious personal ads, and dull visual diary entries. Also, the creator and publisher experimented with an odd color coding system to let you know about the subjects of the stories scattered throughout the book instead of just gathering all the like material into their own ...more
Really great episodic slice-of-life autobio stuff, interspersed with a few other kinds of content (memorably: dating profiles for some real characters).

Love the unique angular drawing style and color sense. Nations lives in PDX, so everything feels just a breath away. There's a section where he travels to the Sou'wester & Long Beach, WA, which is a place my partner could easily go on a weekend getaway (hence the travelogue shelf).

Really appreciate the vulnerability and transparency here. Lots o
3.5 stars
Aug 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
A creative nonfiction comic memoir that interweaves a couple of different stories into one pretty phenomenal graphic novel IMHO.
Born one of a set of triplets and assigned female at birth, Erin's childhood is fertile ground for slice of life vignettes., intermixed with vignettes about his life in Portland as he transitions, intermixed with presumably fictional dating profiles of an outsider like myself see as very Portlandia esque, intermixed with the fictional story of a shy gay highschooler. W
Scott Robins
Mar 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: gn, ya, lgbtq
Read these in the single issues - GUMBALLS is an anthology series reminiscent of alternative comics from the 90s like Hate and Eightball. The main storyline (and the most interesting to me) is Nations' autobiographical comics - either memories of being a triplet before he transitioned and short comics about his transition. Completely honest, authentic and deeply human. This is a much-needed and welcomed addition to LGBT comics.
Ben Truong
Jul 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Gumballs is a graphic novel written and illustrated by Erin Nations and collects all four issues of the series with the addition 30 pages of new material.

Erin Nations is an illustrator and cartoonist living in Portland, Oregon. He graduated from SOU in 2005 and was accepted into the summer semester of Comics/Graphic Novel Certificate Program at the IPRC in 2013. He is a frequent contributor to the quarterly comics newspaper Vision Questand has been featured in Original Plumbingmagazine.

Much of N
Mar 18, 2019 rated it it was ok
Read for work. This wasn't to my taste, unfortunately -- really disliked the art, the narrative threads never actually came together to form a coherent whole (I don't think they were supposed to? but it's a book, not a webcomic; there should be some sort of overarching story), and frankly the entire fake dating profile concept felt just plain mean. I'm sure Nations is a lovely person with plenty of friends in real life but the way the book is centered on him to the exclusion of any meaningful po ...more
Stephanie (aka WW)
Aug 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
These comic shorts are near perfection. Erin Nations, a trans man, has created a series of strips relating to various subject matter. The subjects, my favorite of which are his trans experiences and tales from growing up one of triplets, are color-coded, hence the title Gumballs. I love Nations' sense of humor, his clean cut lines and neat coloration. I will be looking out for more from him for sure.
Mar 12, 2019 rated it liked it
I love how brutally honest this is. Although at the same time, it makes it difficult to read at points. But I think it's important to read things that make us uncomfortable, that remind us what other people have to face every day. It keeps us from taking our own lives for granted, and help us be more considerate and compassionate human beings.
Han M
Jan 03, 2020 added it
3: Read a graphic novel, comic, or manga
Kris Springer
May 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
A graphic novel memoir/slices of life written by a man who was born as a woman. Insightful, funny and true. Author Erin Nations shares his journey and helps the reader to understand his (and others’) situation. The art is a great part of the book, full of square-headed people, and Portland, OR is almost its own character.
Jun 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Quirky, fun, and beautifully-drawn graphic memoir about identity, gender dysphoria, and transitioning set in Portland. Highly recommended for fans of memoir-in-vignettes, graphic novels, LGBTQ reads, and memoirs about transitioning.
Jason McKinney
May 25, 2019 rated it liked it
Nations gives us insight into what it was like for him to transition into a man and the struggles, physical and emotional, that gender dysphoria entails. Peppered throughout are vignettes about his childhood, glimpses of his current life in Portland, cringe-worthy characters and their personal ads and the ongoing adventures of the hapless, lovelorn Tobias. Insightful, touching, funny stuff.
Alexandra Butterworth
Jun 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I had the pleasure to meet the author at ALA 2018 New Orleans and I had to read this first out of all the books I received there because he was such a sweet quiet guy and I wanted to know his story.

I try to be as kind and supportive as I possibly can to all the Trans people I meet but I didn’t really know much about their daily life and struggles. This book was such an eye opener to the little things I never thought about being a problem. It was a joy to read and definitely helps one understand
Aug 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
I liked the variety of stories on offer: some addressing a big issue affection Nations' life because he's trans, some just daily comics, some fictional(?), some one shot work jokes that gain humor because they're a running "column" of sorts. I didn't know what to do with the personal ads... some of them seemed just steretype humor a la Portlandia, some of them seemed earnest. I couldn't tell what my reaction was supposed to be and my natural reaction was... "huh". And, I'm not a fan of the squar ...more
Derek Royal
Jun 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
One of the things I appreciate about the Gumballs series is Nations's format, one that is largely absent from today's comics...specifically indie or alternative comics. His single-authored anthology is something that we used to see all the time, as in Eightball, Acme Novelty Library, Yummy Fur, and Palookaville. Now those creators have either gone the "graphic novel" route or just discontinued these kind of collections altogether, opting instead for the OGN format. I hope that Nations continues ...more
Dakota Morgan
Oct 27, 2018 rated it liked it
Gumballs is jam-packed with brief, interesting, often amusing, sometimes sad glimpses into Erin Nations' quirky Portland life. I really appreciated the comics about gender transition, as that's still an uncommon topic in mainstream literature, comic or otherwise. But Nations' stories about being a triplet and working in a grocery store are just as delightful. With such a diverse grab-bag, it's true that at least a quarter of the short works fall flat, but Gumballs is still worth perusing for it' ...more
Emilia P
Nov 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: comic-books
I was kind of surprised by how much I enjoyed this vignette-y, webcomicy?, very Pacific Northwesty comic of trans life, triplet life, grocery store staff life, general cartoonist hanging around in places life.
I dunno man? Drawing style/color sense was definitely a major plus. Too loose to be on a best of, but it was really good.
Matt Graupman
Apr 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
One of the things I love most about comics is that, as perhaps the most personal form of artistic expression, they really give you a sense of how the creator processes the world around them. The precise ennui of Chris Ware is very different from the gleeful irreverence of James Kochalka which is very different from the naturalist passion of Nate Powell and so on. Reading Erin Nation’s spectacular collection, “Gumballs,” is the closest one can get to climbing inside his head and viewing life thro ...more

Gumballs is a visual mix of memoir, mini-fiction, and micro-fiction, if you will. It revolves around the author, Portland, Oregon native Erin Nations, and their gender transition from female to male, as well as their childhood as a triplet, their work-life, and hand-picked experiences. It also features real or imagined characters doing one page dating profiles (interesting and funny...?), the saga of a gay boy's crushes (interesting), and other bits and pieces (hit/miss).

There's a lot of educati
BAYA Librarian
Gumballs is collection of short comics about topics that range from Nations’ gender transition to vignettes of everyday life, personal ads from an array of male personalities and the misadventures of Tobias a teenage social misfit. The most engaging stories are those about Nations’ transition. He expresses his struggles without making the reader feel like they are getting a needed lesson. But these stories also contain reminders about the dangers and prejudices transgender people face even in se ...more
Gumballs is a perfect name for this sweet and funny assortment of brightly illustrated stories, mixing autobiographical vignettes along with fictional takes on finding your place in a not always welcoming world.

Erin Nations is at his best when he shares his personal stories about transitioning to live his true gender in public. Whether he is writing and drawing about packing, body dysmorphia, the effects of taking HRT/testosterone, or addressing these changes with co-workers, he offers tender in
Stephanie Tournas
The travails and joys of being a triplet and daily life as a trans person are affectionately portrayed in this graphic novel memoir/short comics collection. There are short, long and one page features, so it’s easy to pick up and put down to enjoy. Nations helpfully color codes the categories of featured work, in a sweetly librarian-like way. Reading of his childhood of gender dysphoria and the process of transitioning must be comforting to other trans people, and is a great insight for the rest ...more
Melissa Orth
Sep 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Really enjoyed this graphic novel that is a mish mash of memoir and short comics featuring character sketch singles ads and a random narrative about a high school student crushing on guys. Erin's flashbacks to childhood and description of customer interactions at the grocery coop where he works are amusing. This is clearly a collection of random strips, not a straightforward narrative of his life, but it does give a unique perspective of a F to M transgender person and offers insight into how hi ...more
Aug 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was a nice, quick read. I liked the art style and the humor throughout. The parts that I didn’t have experience with (being a triplet, exploring ghost towns, working in a grocery store, etc.) were well done and still entertaining to me. The parts I did have experience with (almost killing a sibling with a fork, being trans and trying to navigate that, etc.) were even better because they were so relatable and because work from trans perspectives isn’t as easy to find, so it’s extra exciting ...more
Mar 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Been reading lots of manga(Yuri) lately so it was kinda refreshing to read some indie/alternative comics again.

Nice interesting collection of various comics. My favorites all dealt with Erin. There is a comic talking about male privilege that was so relatable!

I love that Erin referenced Morrissey. As someone who has listened to Moz on a few Valentines Days I found this bit pretty humorous. Actually there are many pop culture references that made me smile.

I really enjoyed this and will be followi
Aug 28, 2018 rated it liked it
I think because this had been published as a graphic novel I was expecting more of a linear storytelling, but it certainly worked as a series of snippets and concepts.

Cool art and very readable. Unfortunately though I found some parts very interesting, there were other parts I found less so (I didn't really get the series of random profile bios, they just weren't that funny to me I think).

Good read but didn't love it as much I thought.
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Gumballs (4 books)
  • Gumballs #1
  • Gumballs #2
  • Gumballs #3
  • Gumballs #4

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