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Flung Out of Space: Inspired by the Indecent Adventures of Patricia Highsmith

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A fictional and complex portrait of bestselling author Patricia Highsmith caught up in the longing that would inspire her queer classic, The Price of Salt

Flung Out of Space is both a love letter to the essential lesbian novel, The Price of Salt, and an examination of its notorious author, Patricia Highsmith. Veteran comics creators Grace Ellis and Hannah Templer have teamed up to tell this story through Highsmith’s eyes—reimagining the events that inspired her to write the story that would become a foundational piece of queer literature.

Flung Out of Space opens with Pat begrudgingly writing low-brow comics. A drinker, a smoker, and a hater of life, Pat knows she can do better. Her brain churns with images of the great novel she could and should be writing—what will eventually be Strangers on a Train— which would later be adapted into a classic film by Alfred Hitchcock in 1951.
At the same time, Pat, a lesbian consumed with self-loathing, is in and out of conversion therapy, leaving a trail of sexual conquests and broken hearts in her wake. However, one of those very affairs and a chance encounter in a department store give Pat the idea for her soon-to-be beloved tale of homosexual love that was the first of its kind—it gave the lesbian protagonists a happy ending.
This is not just the story behind a classic queer book, but of a queer artist who was deeply flawed. It’s a comic about what it was like to write comics in the 1950s, but also about what it means to be a writer at any time in history, struggling to find your voice.
Author Grace Ellis contextualizes Patricia Highsmith as both an unintentional queer icon and a figure whose problematic views and noted anti-Semitism have cemented her controversial legacy. Highsmith’s life imitated her art with results as devastating as the plot twists that brought her fame and fortune.

208 pages, Hardcover

First published March 15, 2022

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About the author

Grace Ellis

68 books219 followers
Grace Ellis is a writer best known for co-creating and co-writing Lumberjanes, a New York Times bestselling, Eisner and GLAAD Award-winning comic, though you won't hear her brag about it unless you ask her directly. She has written several episodes of the animated series Bravest Warriors. Grace lives in Columbus, Ohio, where she co-parents a preternaturally smart cat, even though she's more of a dog person.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 249 reviews
Profile Image for s.penkevich.
963 reviews6,809 followers
April 19, 2023
People are complex creatures. While highly flawed, Patricia Highsmith was a fascinating figure no matter how you look at it, something writer Grace Ellis and illustrator Hannah Templer hone in on for phenomenal results in Flung Out of Space—a graphic novel rendition of the Highsmith’s young life. Chronicling the start of Highsmith’s career writing comic books under pseudonyms as Strangers on a Train was forged through the clicking and clacking of her typewriter through the release of The Price of Salt under the name Claire Morgan (later released under her intended title, Carol, and under her name 1990), this is an interesting and moving look at the author. While slightly fictionalized and condensed, Ellis brings Highsmith to life in a way that, as she writes in the intro, ‘resembles the characters she’s most famous for writing: charismatic sociopaths who are worryingly easy to root for.’ Combined with Templar’s exquisite artwork Flung Out of Space is a visual narrative feast that handles sensitive topics with grace and makes for a gripping story of artistic struggles.
This book blew me away and I devoured it with sheer delight. The art is marvelous, with Templer delivering a very noir-esque 1950s while also nodding to comic book aesthetics. The frames direct the action forward as if to the pulse of pulp fiction and seamlessly transition between the real world and the creative daydreaming of the author, often imposing her creative process on top of the world as she moves through it. The character design is highly expressive, with a vastness of emotional complexity playing out on Highsmith’s face. The writing is crisp and the duo combine their talents for some wonderfully creative and effective storytelling.
Highsmith is a queer icon, with The Price of Salt being a groundbreaking work of lesbian fiction for actually giving the women a mostly-happy ending. But people are complex and flawed—you may be interested to read this article grappling with her legacy and horrific antisemitism and racism—and this book does not shy away from depictions of the rather unfortunate aspects of Highsmith. Ellis provides a really engaging introduction on this, discussing how despite her flaws, Highsmith is still a fundamental part of queer history. She concludes by saying ‘if you read this book and end up conflicted about Highsmith and her legacy: good.

Yet the book manages to make you at least sympathetic for her as she struggles between multiple jobs, her conflicted feelings between excitement and guilt over her attraction to other women for which she seeks out expensive conversion therapy. Above all it presents her determination to become a successful author who doesn’t just write crime novel, but ‘good books’ that have mystery and crime in them (as she frequently says). We feel her efforts and struggles, and it does make for an endearing story. Also there are some surprises, as I did not know she briefly wrote for Stan Lee under a pseudonym.
Flung Out of Space is a fabulous graphic novel. One need not have any prior knowledge of Highsmith to enjoy it, though you will certainly want to read Carol after this. I had gotten really into her short stories back in college and now I definitely want to read more of her books. Visually stunning, sharp, emotional and a crash course into the complex lineage of the author, this was a true treat.


Profile Image for Dave Schaafsma.
Author 6 books31.5k followers
December 27, 2022
I have in the past couple years become a fan of Patricia Highsmith's work, though I, like many people, I suppose, encountered it first through Alfred Hitchcock's fine adaptation of her first novel, Strangers on a Train, and/or the film, The Talented Mr. Ripley. I have read these now and also read her The Price of Salt, which was initially published under a pseudonym and later published under her own name and with the title she preferred, Carol. It is a key book in the annals of lesbian fiction, because it was one of the first lesbian novels, sold a lot of copies, and actually has a pretty happy ending (which was unique during this period) for its two central lesbian characters. For years the author received letters from women (and men) all over the world praising this work and sharing personal stories related to the tale.

I mention that book because this comics biography by Grace Ellis and Hannah Templar, while not a complete biography, focuses on what led to Highsmith writing Carol. In part because it was created by comics artists, the book reveals that Highsmith made her first money as a writer in comics! And yeah, she worked for a time (and was hit on by??!!) Stan Lee! She wrote comics while working on her first two novels. Note to comics fans: She did not love or respect the comics work she was contracted to do, or the industry in general, as a result, sigh.

The authors make it clear that while they love Highsmith's work, they do not condone her pretty well known anti-semitism, misogyny and general nastiness. They admit she was not always a good person, hating a lot of people, including herself. But I have to say the authors actually help us understand why it is she may have been unhappy: She was encouraged (and agreed) to get involved in "conversion" therapy to try and "cure" her "lesbianism." This part was sad, but also had some funny parts. One therapist suggested she participated in group therapy with other "latent lesbians," which led to her having quite a bit of fun with the group!

But seriously, the self-loathing she experienced came from the fact that her love of women was actually illegal in this country, and the story documents vile anecdotes of injustices that lesbians experienced at the time. The homophobic social system, particularly of the time, created a foundation for many of resentment and self-hate.

I don't know if everyone would love this book, but I read it in one sitting, loving it. It's fun, sexy, funny, lively in illustration. If you are a Highsmith fan, it's a must read. One of my top comics reads of the year!
Profile Image for Juan Naranjo.
Author 5 books2,551 followers
December 3, 2022
Son muchas las biografías ilustradas que, tratando de dejar lo mejor posible a la persona retratada, se convierten casi en una hagiografía. Me daba miedo que sucediese eso con un personaje tan complejo, incómodo y particular como Patricia Highsmith… pero, afortunadamente, esta obra es capaz de retratar a la artista y también a la mujer, y no se corta en mostrar sus contradicciones, sus matices y sus rincones oscuros.

«De otro planeta» retrata una de las etapas más turbulentas de esta genial escritora: el momento en el que, en lo profesional, trata de alzar el vuelo como escritora de «novelas buenas con componentes de misterio» y en el que, en lo personal, lucha contra la naturaleza de su sexualidad cayendo continuamente en el lecho de otras mujeres. Ambos aspectos se cultivan de forma paralela, se salpican de pinceladas sobre el trabajo en la industria literaria y se ilustran con viñetas elegantes, efectivas y expresivas.

Este es un libro para cualquier persona que quiera saber más sobre una de las autoras más talentosas del siglo XX (sobre todo, para quienes se enamorasen de obras tan magnificas y diferentes entre sí como «Extraños en un tren» o «Carol»), pero también para cualquiera que quiera saber más sobre las mujeres sáficas en el siglo XX o cualquiera que disfrute de los cómics bien documentados, bien ejecutados y hechos tanto desde el amor como desde la veracidad.
Profile Image for Julie Ehlers.
1,111 reviews1,412 followers
July 3, 2022
This beauteously drawn and colored graphic novel is a light fictionalization of the early life of Patricia Highsmith, the life that led her to write Carol (aka The Price of Salt). In an introduction, the author—a fan of Highsmith—is blunt about Highsmith’s misogyny, antisemitism, and general antisocial qualities, stating plainly that Highsmith was not a good person. Yet the comic itself is much kinder to her, making clear the deep shame Highsmith lived with and how it warped most aspects of her life.

Which makes this book sound like a bummer, but it’s actually great! It’s one of those perfect meldings of subject matter and visual style that can make graphic novels such a joy to read, and for all her many faults, the Highsmith of this book is exhilarating company in the way only a true iconoclast can be.
Profile Image for Alan Teder.
2,061 reviews110 followers
July 8, 2023
Highsmith Begins
Review of the Abrams ComicArts SURELY hardcover (April 19, 2022)

We'll go out west, we'll, we'll, we'll start over someplace fresh. I'll find a way to sell Strangers on a Train and we'll live off of that.
I can't.
We'll leave right now.
Patricia. I can't. Please. I can't let myself imagine that future.
Don't leave me alone again.
I always admired what a strange girl you are, Pat. Flung out of space.
- an imagined break-up dialogue (in the graphic novel) between Patricia Highsmith and her early lover Virginia Kent Catherwood, from which she borrowed elements for The Price of Salt (1952).

As the title states, and as writer Grace Ellis confirms in her introduction, this story is "inspired" by the early life of Patricia Highsmith when she earned a living as a comic book writer* in New York City, while also taking various temporary jobs such as a Bloomingdale's store clerk in order to make ends meet. Elements have to be imagined and fictionalized for drama's sake but none of this feels inappropriate or too much of a stretch. Illustrator Hannah Templer does an excellent job with both the through story panels and the sidelines portraying Highsmith's inner thoughts (often imaginings for her future novels).

A sample 2 page spread from 'Flung Out of Space'. Image sourced from an interview with the SURELY imprint founder Mariko Tamaki at Syfy.com.

An example of bending the truth occurs in an imagined dialogue about the future publication of Highsmith's Carol, her gay positive novel which was eventually published as The Price of Salt:
However, in order to get this into print, not to mention to avoid attention from the wrong people more generally, (sigh) we'll have to publish it as a pulp paperback. That's why you can't title it Carol. It won't sell a pulp book. It's not raw enough. It's too literary.

Although Bantam Books did publish a pulp paperback edition in 1953, the first publication from Coward McCann in 1952 was as an actual hardcover, albeit with the title change and under a pseudonym. So the graphic novel takes liberties with the real-life story for dramatic story-telling effect.

First edition covers for 'The Price of Salt', the 1952 Coward McCann hardcover (sourced from Goodreads) and the 1953 pulp Bantam Books paperback (sourced from biblio.co.uk. Both published under the pseudonym Claire Morgan.

Flung Out of Space was an excellent imagined background story of Patricia Highsmith's early loves and career as she wrote pulp comics and dreamed of becoming a literary author, in which she eventually succeeded with Strangers on a Train (1950) and The Price of Salt 1952).

Footnote, Trivia and Links
* An uncredited Highsmith wrote for the now little known Black Terror comics and also for Stan Lee's early Timely Comics, before the latter went on to become the Marvel Comics imprint. Stan Lee makes a cameo appearance in Flung Out of Space.

Illustrator Hannah Templer has a portfolio of their work on Flung Out of Space at their webpage, which includes panels from the final book as well as draft sketches for characters, facial expressions, hands, costumes, etc. You can see it here.

The Abrams ComicArts SURELY imprint is "a new line of graphic novels curated by the bestselling Eisner Award-winning author Mariko Tamaki, dedicated to expanding the presence of LGBTQIA creators and content in the comics world." Read more about SURELY here.
402 reviews2 followers
April 18, 2022
THREE STARS: but really two-and-a-half; I don't think I'll read this again.

This rating is hard to explain. It is not a two-and-a-half-star book, but I would say it's a two-and-a-half-star experience: like its creators were in such deep moral conflict over its creation, they got so turned around the forgot why they ended up here in the first place.

Flung Out Of Space is a fictional-ish imagining of Patricia Highsmith's life and motivations in creating the lesbian classic The Price of Salt, or Carol, all while contending with an awareness of their subject's less-than-savory public sentiments later in life. It feels like an attempt to both valorize Highsmith, as someone who was brave enough and dogged enough to write truly iconoclastic literature in the face of society's disapproval and her own self-hatred, and yet temper that instinct with general condemnation for her being a shitty person.

In fact, that's exactly what the foreward states as the creators' intent, and says if the reader "remains conflicted" over Highsmith and her legacy by the end of the book, then "good." Which maybe got my hopes up a little too high.

Because the book and the portrayal of Highsmith didn't leave me conflicted, but I sure as heck felt the creators' conflict. For me it didn't seem to go hard enough in either direction. It assumed the readers are fully aware of the deeply toxic legacy of "lesbian sleazers," aka the profitable and popular genre of pornographic pulp written for an assumed straight audience where any queer characters suffered, and how revolutionary The Price of Salt really was both in its time and for decades after. (Flung seems much more interested in how comics were seen as a "corrupting" influence, also fascinating, but also given fairly short shrift.) It showcases Highsmith's frustration with being relegated to pulp and "gutter" literature, but it doesn't acknowledge what it must have took for Highsmith, as a woman in the '40s, to claw her way into the industry to be known and respected as a writer of truly literary genre fiction. There's the usual patina of Nice Guy misogyny from her co-workers or even guys she meets at a bar, but this barely scratches the surface on how Highsmith would have literally been breaking a new path, the toll it would have taken.

But I also feel like it didn't work hard enough to showcase her failings, either! There's some mildly antisemitic remarks -- oh, like that's supposed to shock me, in the '40s? Again, it's as if the creators have assumed we're already familiar with the context of the truly vile things Highsmith said in her later life, and so we connect them to that, instead of portraying markedly vile things at this point in her life. Ditto her seducing inappropriate partners and general disregard for "acceptable" behavior or being "nice," especially when the game is already so clearly rigged against her for being a queer woman.

That's before we get into the outright revisionism which seems odd in the face of all this: portraying Highsmith as having to be persuaded to distance herself from her lesbian book for the the sake of her literary reputation, when Highsmith herself was very candid about not wanting to have her own name on a "lesbian book," and such a personal one at that. She invented people to dedicate it to in order to throw people off, and refused (the feminist, lesbian press) Naiad's 5K advance to publish under her own name (instead of 2K under the old pseud) as late as the '80s, when she was firmly established. Even when she did put her name on it, she resented how she was assumed as "outed" for its contents. And it's almost angering to see these facts skewed or neglected, because Flung's own ending would have been that much stronger and sadder, with the facts intact, and more emphasis on her own ambivalence toward her sexuality than fears about literary propriety.

It's not a bad thing to crave a general sense of "more" from a book, but it is frustrating. And while it's a very competent piece of storytelling on its own merits, it begs the greater context to really come together into a cohesive whole. In the end, it doesn't really leave its own mark as an imagined story, and it doesn't really do deserved justice to Highsmith as a historical subject -- which is why it's an enjoyable book that I gave a fairly low rating. I wish it had been more challenging, the character of Highsmith even more conflicting. Instead it almost reads like the creators were afraid of being judged themselves, for choosing the polarizing Highsmith as a heroic-but-pathetic figure, and so played it safe throughout.
Profile Image for Melanie Gillman.
Author 36 books264 followers
February 16, 2022
Wow, I LOVED this. A rich, complicated, and devastating story, deliciously free of sugarcoating. This is the sort of adult queer graphic fiction I’d love to see more of from mainstream presses.
Profile Image for Stewart Tame.
2,328 reviews92 followers
March 23, 2022
Full disclosure: I won a free copy of this book in a Goodreads giveaway.

I feel vaguely guilty for going into this knowing so little about Patricia Highsmith. I'm sure there are fans of her work who would kill to get their hands on this book, and get it ahead of the publication date no less (which is one of many reasons why I don't include my home address in these reviews.) I know her mainly by reputation, and by having seen Hitchcock's film, Strangers On A Train. That's it.

But graphic novels, those I know! Always happy to read a new one whether I'm familiar with the subject matter or not. And this is a splendid example of the form.

It's the sort of book for which the phrase, "Based on a true story," was invented. It's a fictionalized retelling of the early part of her career, as she was struggling to have her first two novels published. She was a comic book writer and a lesbian during a time when such things were frowned upon as wrong, aberrant, and even immoral by society. She spends much of the book bitter, caustic, and generally lashing out at anyone who gets too close. It's the story of a square peg chafing against a round hole. At the same time, though, we're given enough information to sympathize. As presented, she's not a perfect human being, but she deserves happiness and comfort as much as any of us.

In the end, the book is a snapshot of a particular time in her life. It's the story of an artist struggling against societal boundaries and to get her career off the ground. Given what I know of her reputation as a writer, I'd say it was ultimately successful. But, as I said, I'm hardly an expert on the subject.

I enjoyed this graphic novel very much. Recommended!

Profile Image for Eva B..
1,321 reviews325 followers
May 23, 2023
First off, breathtaking art.
Second, I found this super interesting! I'm not very familiar with Pat Highsmith, so this was a good crash course in her life. Deeply, deeply flawed person, but very interesting to follow in a car crash sort of way.
Profile Image for Rod Brown.
5,538 reviews197 followers
May 8, 2022
I didn't much like Patricia Highsmith's Carol (a/k/a The Price of Salt) when I read it in December of last year, but at least now I'm very glad I did read it so as to better appreciate this amazing fictionalized account of the book's creation.

In the late 1940s, Highsmith is begrudgingly writing comic book stories for Standard Comics, publisher of Black Terror, as she sends Strangers on a Train off to her agent to shop for publication. She dreams of day when she can ditch comics and just write real books, "good books." Due to self-loathing from the homophobia of the time, she also dreams of ditching the sexual attraction she has for women, seeking the help of psychoanalysts to make her heterosexual. Of course, psychoanalysis is expensive so she seeks extra work from Timely Comics -- leading to a bizarre but true special appearance by Stan Lee -- and as a clerk in the toy department at Bloomingdale's, which is going to trip some alerts for anyone familiar with Carol.

What drew me into the book was the characterization of Highsmith as an angry and bitter jackass who is self-destructive and hateful to those around her but simultaneously rightfully troubled and creative as hell. It reminds me of some of my favorite movies: Amadeus, The Doors, and most pertinently Professor Marsden and the Wonder Women. She blazes through life, leaving scorched earth behind her.

This may not be the way it actually happened, but it's so well told, it's how I hope it did happen.
Profile Image for Mark Robison.
1,043 reviews76 followers
January 5, 2023
This is a story I believe is worth telling. That being said, I want to be clear: The protagonist of this story is not a good person. In fact, Patricia Highsmith was an appalling person."

That's from the author's note at the start of this graphic novel about the genesis of "Carol" aka "The Price of Salt" by Highsmith, writing under the name Claire Morgan.

This book is so much better than I expected. The artwork captures the vibe of lurid early 20th century comic books, which Highsmith wrote anonymously while trying to get her first book, "Strangers on a Train," published.

The casual sexism, the secrecy surrounding and the prejudice against homosexuality, the antisemitism, the male-dominated hierarchy -- it's all handled so smoothly, without calling attention to itself as so many books and TV shows do. It's just the water everyone is swimming in at this time.

Highsmith is almost portrayed as an antihero: You don't like her, but you want her to succeed. And you might even cheer as she turns the tables on the conversion therapy she must endure.

It captures the writing life well. It creates tension in what could seem like mundane life details, and it's got some incredibly smoldering looks involving middle-class white women. If you even think you might like this book, I guarantee you will.
Profile Image for Dakota Morgan.
2,447 reviews34 followers
February 7, 2023
The introduction to Flung Out of Space clarifies that Patricia Highsmith was an anti-semitic, racist, misogynist who should be no one's hero. The book then proceeds to make a hero out of her - an abrasive, headstrong, and mean hero, sure, but an oddly appealing character nonetheless.

We catch Highsmith as she's hatefully writing comics to pay the bills - specifically, the psychiatrist bill as she tries to cure herself of homosexuality. Unsurprisingly, this just leads her into more sexual encounters with women and more unstable relationships with men and coworkers. Highsmith also works on a novel (Strangers on a Train) and harangues everyone around her (and meets Stan Lee! Odd cameo). She's unlikeable, but magnetic.

Ultimately, Highsmith writes Carol and bludgeons the publishing industry into printing the book - without her name on the cover. But her lesbian love masterpiece is out there. Happy ending...kinda? It's pretty clear that curmudgeonly Highsmith's life isn't going to improve much, even if she's exorcised some demons onto the page.

Lovely art and crisp storytelling will keep you engaged. This isn't the apologetic that the introduction suggested. Rather, it's an engaging, thoughtful glimpse into the hard life of a trouble woman.
Profile Image for currentlyreadingbynat.
617 reviews44 followers
June 6, 2022
I adored this Graphic Novel. The artwork is exceptional, but I also really loved the story. Patricia Highsmith was the author of Carol (AKA The Price of Salt), the first novel that features a lesbian romance and includes a happy ending. However, she also had a very complex history. Although she wrote a queer classic, she viewed homosexuality as a psychological defect that could be cured (particularly when she wrote Carol) and was also antisemitist and racist.

This graphic novel didn't gloss over this part of Highsmith, but rather reflected it in a way that showed how complex she was as a person. I couldn't help but read it in a way that made me reflective with how awful she could be, but also how true to herself she was. She's forthcoming with her uncompromising personality, but we also see how much self-loathing she feels. I found the way they portrayed her conversion therapy to be really sad and it paints a picture with how awful this would've been to go through. That's obviously no excuse for her behaviour, which is very clearly reflected in the graphic novel as well.

Flung Out of Space is an excellent read, which not only reimagines the events that inspired Patricia Highsmith to write Carol and Strangers on a Train, but also presents a complex, uncompromising character. I highly recommend a read.
Profile Image for Elizabeth A.
1,853 reviews110 followers
October 12, 2022
People are complex beings. Creative people often more so.

I really enjoyed this graphic novel about Patricia Highsmith. At the time I read this, I'd only read one of her books - The Price of Salt. I also really liked the adaptation of The Talented Mr. Ripley.

Ms. Highsmith was a talented writer, and an out lesbian in a time when it was dangerous to be so. I was delighted to learn that she wrote comics - to earn a living - but didn't consider it a worthy enough an art form to put her name on.

I really liked the illustration style of this comic. We learn about a time in Highsmith's life, and the inspiration for The Price of Salt (aka Carol). Really enjoyed this one.
Profile Image for Annika Klein.
Author 3 books53 followers
June 10, 2022
This is a wonderful book that doesn’t shy away from what an awful person Pat was, but doesn’t vilify her for it, either. And I love the irony of a comic about a woman who loathed writing comics.
Profile Image for Andrew MacDonald.
Author 3 books359 followers
April 29, 2022
Ah, I love this graphic (auto)novel. Recently I read the Philip K. Dick graphic biography and found it tremendously lacking. It just seemed so not in the spirit of PKD. The focus was tawdry - Dick's affairs, his obsession with his dead sister, virtually nothing about the tremendously interesting fiction he wrote, how it related to his life. Now Highsmith had a tawdry life. She slept with her agent's wife, demolished several marriages - both straight and lesbian. But this account of her life isn't tawdry. I've read three biographies of Highsmith, the Meaker memoir about their disastrous but weirdly touching time together, I've read Highsmith's novels, I've seen Carol. I find Highsmith's life and personhood more interesting than her fiction, which is saying a lot, because I'm very interested in her fiction. All of which is to say: there are a lot of, like, let's say 'inaccuracies,' if one were taking this as a straight graphic biography. For instance, Marc Brandel was a writer Highsmith met at Yaddo who had a big impact on her writing life, even though he seems kind of like a prick. Her relationship with Ginnie isn't quite accurate, and I can tell Ellis was like, well, Highsmith had a longterm, very demented, relationship with the sociologist, Ellen Blumenthal Hill, and sort of packed that into the flirtation with her psychoanalyst. The moment in the final pages, when Highsmith is at the bar, post publication of The Price of Salt, is lifted directly from Meaker's memoir. As a novelist, I dig this stuff - how artists make their art. Even though it wasn't true to life, it was true to the spirit of Highsmith (when you get to the end of this book, you'll see what I mean). Anyway, I can go on. None of that matters. Ellis captures the SPIRIT of Highsmith. The art is bang on. The vibe is bang on. I have zero problems with the truncation, with the adjustments made to Highsmith's life.

Like I say, Ellis really nailed Highsmith's personality and character. I'm happy at the inclusion of a reference to Highsmith's infamous ranking proto-spreadsheet ranking lovers, found of course in the back of Schenkar's fabulous biography, The Talented Miss Highsmith. The edition of this I've read, from the library, didn't have the Schenkar afterword. I guess other editions do?

I am 100% going to buy a fancy hardcover of this book for the ol' MacDonald archives. That's how much I love this.
Profile Image for Erin.
2,179 reviews30 followers
October 2, 2022
I liked a lot of how they framed the storytelling in this. What I REALLY liked is the very Frank author’s note at the beginning that talked about Highsmith being a great writer, but not necessarily a great human being. More clear lenses when memorializing creators, please!
Profile Image for Exalted Speed.
6 reviews3 followers
April 25, 2022
I wanted to give this book a chance to impress me, I've read other works with Grace Ellis but always found her work lacking in areas and was hoping maybe this material would show a different side of her work.

While I applaud the book for tackling Patricia I feel like it's a failure in a lot of regards in actually portraying her as a complicated person. For one the book never delves into some of her more racist beliefs and only has rather mild comments about Jews. Most of the book she is giving sassy one liners and this kind of goes against the stated intent I feel and feels more like the book is PURELY cheering her on. The comic mostly takes her to task over her rather dismissive comments towards comics which okay I love comics myself but you know this book doesn't do anything with her more nasty issues.

Also if you know your history of comics, or of the world of the time, this is going to annoy you. From modern attitudes about comics showing up during a time when most editors would never even think about giving credit, to things like an action figure existing in the 1940's, these moments can take you out of the work and shows the author was only interested in a couple aspects.

If you want to actually learn about Highsmith I would recommend the various articles on her, Alter Ego has a rather nice look at her comic career too, and there are also better books on comics at the time, I would look at Seal of Approval to get a real sense of the scene at the time.

Stan Lee is also given a lot of screen time in this book and if you look it up, they only ever met once it seems and they make him a much BIGGER presence in this book.

The art is nice and works at points, don't read this on Kindle though, it messes up the last page hard.

I really hoped this would be a good look at Highsmith, but this feels more like a work meant to clean up her image then a portrait of a complicated person.
Profile Image for Emma.
1,251 reviews104 followers
November 2, 2022

Flung Out of Space was a fascinating and compelling look at the life of one very complex person. I knew nothing about Patricia Highsmith before reading this book so it was very helpful to have an author's note at the beginning that provided some general biographic information. The way Ellis addressed Patricia's misogyny and antisemitism candidly was really well done. It provided useful context to some of the scenes portrayed in the book while letting me know that neither of the creators condoned this behavior.

I added this to my TBR as I loved Hannah Templer's work on Cosmoknights. Templer's art is gorgeous. It did an excellent job showing the reader Patricia's view of her life and an outside perspective at the same time. This balancing act worked really well to provide a nuanced look at a person who contained a lot of different sides.

Flung Out of Space was a fantastic read. I couldn't put it down and also learned a lot.
Profile Image for Bill.
1,656 reviews80 followers
July 8, 2022
Flung Out of Space: Inspired by the Indecent Adventures of Patricia Highsmith is a graphic novel by Grace Ellis and Hannah Templer which tells the story of Patricia Highsmith's early days as a writer, up until her final publication of her second novel, The Price of Salt, published initially under the pseudonym of Clair Morgan.

Highsmith started off writing for comics, a job she hated. But she needed money to help her focus on novels. From the perspective of the authors, Highsmith was an awful person; anti-semitic, rude, misogynist, etc. Highsmith was also a lesbian, for which she tried psychological treatments, but she finally gave up.

Highsmith worked for two comic book companies and had relationships with various women; including her comic editor's wife, her agent's girl friend, etc. She finally gets her first book published, that being the iconic Strangers on a Train. From another relationship, started when she was working part-time at Bloomingdales as a clerk, she came up with the plot for the story Carol (aka The Price of Salt). The final chapter of this novel are her efforts to get the story published; very difficult as lesbian relationships were generally only published in pulp novels at that time. (Hence why it was published under Clair Morgan for the first years.)

It's an interesting story, showing Highsmith will all of her scratchy exterior and issues. The drawings are clear and realistic. It's a fascinating look at her early years and her life. I've enjoyed many of her mysteries and also Carol and it was neat to discover more about her. (4.0 stars)
Profile Image for Joanne.
1,221 reviews27 followers
June 21, 2022
Despite this candid depiction of Highsmith’s abrasive personality, Ellis and Templer do an amazing job of telling her story with empathy, and heart, and some understanding of the repression of the 1950s, even in the somewhat more freewheeling NYC publishing industry.

I think as you read, you’ll root for PH to find her liberty, happiness, and place in the world despite her consequential miserable behavior. Really well drawn and sensitively told tale of the origins of Carol -now considered an American classic- that makes you wish Highsmith was still here to enjoy its proper recognition.
Profile Image for M..
252 reviews7 followers
June 29, 2023
Buzzword Challenge 2023, June: “other”

La verdad que no pensaba hacer esto, claramente estoy leyendo Girl, woman, other para este reto pero bueno, siendo que no estoy ni cerca de acabarlo y que me apetecía leer una novelita gráfica LGTB+ esta semana y que justo estaba esta que entra perfecta en el reto pues… no brainer

Me ha gustado mucho, la verdad, el dibujo y la historia y cómo relaciona la trama de Carol con la vida real de la autora. Lo único que conozco de Patricia Highsmith es Carol, obviamente, y recuerdo ver The talented Mr. Ripley hace años, y ya. Ni he leído ni visto Extraños en un tren, que es la novela en la que más se centra (aparte de Carol). Tampoco es que afectase, solo me gustaba mucho el arte cuando visualizaba sus novelas de crímenes y entiendo que tendrán referencias que no he pillado. En cualquier caso, me ha gustado mucho, me gusta que se presente a la protagonista como un personaje complejo, por el que puedes sentir muchas cosas (no todas buenas). Me gusta que no escondan los fallos de la persona real, ni los justifiquen. Me gusta que enseñen lo conflictivo que era ser lesbiana en los años 50. No sé, es cortito y tiene mucho que sacar de él, lo recomiendo mucho (aunque sí siento que me familiarizaría con Carol primero, aunque sea ver la película!)
Profile Image for Dory.
186 reviews39 followers
August 4, 2022
Deze graphic novel is al de moeite gewoon omwille van de schoonheid van de editie en de kracht van de tekeningen, maar daarnaast vertelt het ook het verhaal van Patricia Highsmith op een enorm genuanceerde manier. Ze was een vreselijk mens, misschien, maar ook een icoon dat ik niet anders kan dan respecteren en dat voelt bizar aan. Want ondanks de miserie waar ze zichzelf doorduwde heeft ze wel zoveel grondwerk gelegd voor queer en sapfische verhalen waarbij er niemand sterft op het einde of magischerwijs toch met iemand van het andere geslacht samengaat. Veel mensen weten hoeveel ik van Carol hou. Dat dat boek 70 jaar na verschijning voor mij nog steeds zoveel betekent is een ding, maar de context waarin het geschreven is verheft het tot iets nog groters dan dat. En het is juist die context die zo prachtig gevat wordt in dit boek.
Profile Image for Sonia.
Author 2 books49 followers
March 5, 2023
This is great, and actually made me more committed to finishing one of Highsmith's novels, which I have not yet done. Also, she was a terrible person!! Which I did not know. Racist, anti-Semitic, apparently very difficult to be around. A good candidate for the lesbian version of BAD GAYS. Fascinating, always, how a person can push the boundaries in some ways and be so conservative in others, but I get the feeling she just hated everybody.

There are uncomfortable echoes of today's publishing industry in Highsmith's attempts to publish CAROL even after her success with STRANGERS ON A TRAIN - still a lot of folks who don't think there is a market for lesbians who get a happy ending.
Profile Image for Mariella Taylor.
Author 6 books8 followers
March 19, 2023
An interesting historical account of what it was like to be a female author, work in comics pre-Marvel craze during the "comics make you gay and insane" phase, and when being gay/lesbian was considered a mental illness. Was interesting to see moments of this woman's life, but I would have liked to see a little more focus on her writing and the back and forth anxiety related to that rather than just focusing on her relationships with the writing as a backdrop to make enough money for her "treatments."
Profile Image for Hannah Showalter.
211 reviews32 followers
December 27, 2022
This might be my final push to actually read The Price of Salt. I also loved that this didn’t shy away from the horrible parts of Highsmith’s personality. Felt like a very honest portrayal. Some good queer history moments in here too!
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