Last year at the Emerald City Comicon, a fella stopped by my booth and gave me a self-published pamphlet/comic book to check out. His name was K.D. Boze and the book was called "The Virgin Project".
I sat down to look at this small marvel and was immediately engrossed. This was like no other comic book I had ever seen, and it left me amazed. Boze and his artist collaborator Stasia Kato put out fliers at the Seattle Erotic Art Festival asking people to tell their stories of losing their virginity. They promised complete anonymity and that they would change appearances and names to protect that.
Boze and Kato received several responses, and proceeded to put them into comic book format. Thus "The Virgin Project" gained life. What is ironic here is that something that could have gone so terribly wrong ended up being poignant, tender, crazy, funny, and sad. For lack of a better word, the creators nailed it.
This year at the ECCC, I ran into Boze as he was setting up a space at friend John Lustig's booth. His pamphlet had evolved into a full fledged graphic novel. I immediately felt guilty, because I had wanted to blog about his creation but for several reasons, hadn't done so. I promised him and myself that I would go buy a copy, as it was one of the most interesting, amazing pieces of work I had seen in a long time. Sunday at the show, I made good on my promise and am now the owner of said work.
It is hard to do "The Virgin Projects" justice without being able to just hand it to someone and say "look at this". It is also difficult to talk about a book like this in a casual manner given that the subject material is anything but. The one thing I know for sure is that it struck and extremely emotional chord with me and I wanted to make sure other people knew about it's existence.
Kato's cartoony artwork is perfect for this kind of an anthology. It gives a certain levity to a tricky topic. Some of the stories are very sad while others make a person feel angry, and Kato brings life to them without judgement. Boze did an outstanding job of narrating the experiences with a detached, emotionless tone that still managed to bring to the surface the painful reality of it all.
"The Virgin Project" is most certainly a book for grown-ups, but some of the tales give a cautionary tone that make me want to give it to young adults. It isn't gratuitous, and it isn't sexist. The tag line "real people share real stories" says it all.
This is a very personal book about a bit of a taboo subject, but I recommend it wholeheartedly. It will touch you deep down in your heart while administering a punch in the guts, leaving you feeling like you went on a journey.
Go check out Boze's website for details or if you want to share a story that may be included in a future anthology. Most of all, if you find a copy and have enough left over from you stimulus check, pick one up. Be prepared for a crazy ride.