By Greg Lockard, Tim Fish Héctor Barros & Lucas Gattoni
Reviewed by David T. Valentin
If you needed a piece of art perfectly pertaining to the queer political tensions in The United States in present day, Liebestrasse is the piece for you. The graphic novel portrays the political tension of the rise of Nazis in 1932 Berlin, Germany and the underground, artistic and bohemian lifestyle Phillip Adler and his American Lover, Samuel Welles (who’s in Germany on business) and perfectly reels in readers through the personal and the political. In doing so, in a strange way the graphic novel reads as poetry of witness—poetry demonstrating how the political impacts the personal to the point life itself changes for those affected in irreversible ways.
While the novel is quick with minimal dialogue, through the tension of the rise of Nazis at the time and Samuel exploring the city with his German lover Philip Adler, readers are hooked wondering whether the couple will have their happy ending. Though, as witnesses of history, readers can’t help but know how it’ll end while hoping for better. Through the graphic comics minimalist, but punctual and witty dialogue, we become quickly acquainted with the few characters we do get to know and their relationship to Germany both politically and personally.
Through its art design, I couldn’t help but be reminded of noir comics. The early 1900s aesthetic, the minimalist, and almost mysterious, dialogue and comic panels, all add to the tension as if creating a sense that, although we as readers know how history plays out, that there could perhaps be some alternative ending. This sense of noir mystery shoves us into the perspective of the characters. As they witness history, readers feel, for the first time, they too are experiencing Berlin, Germany in the 1930s during the rise of the Nazis.
While reading Liebestrasse, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the very real threat many right-wing politicians in the United States and their anti-LGBTQ+ legislation have and will have on LGBTQ+ people in this country. In a way, Liebestrasse serves as a cautionary and educational tale of the dangers of rising fascism and how quickly its rise comes. Despite such a dark tale, we know from history that it’s never too late to do something about it.
Published by Greg Lockard, November 6, 2019