Niki Smith’s Crossplay: A Review

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Editor’s Note: Crossplay deals with some topics not safe for small kids or work.

I didn’t expect to earn the title of Smut Prince of Fangirl Nation, but with great power comes great responsibility! I went into Crossplay with lots of intrigue. I’m a known admirer of good smutty comics and it’s far from secret knowledge that I am a bit of a snob about my smutty comics. Without giving too much away, I’m happy to say that Crossplay has not only met but exceeded all expectations I had for it.

Let’s get into a little bit of background; Crossplay is written and drawn by Niki Smith, an artist I actually know from reading her excellent comic on Oh Joy Sex Toy about book blacking: see, it’s all full circle. This story even on synopsis intrigued me for more than one reason: I am a crossplayer, myself. I’ve spent most of my cosplay career playing male characters and while my first instinct is to bristle at the sexualization of cosplay, I’m far from one to judge. It’s naive to separate cosplay and crossplay from some of it’s more erotic roots and reading this comic reminded me to relax and live a little.

Crossplay is a coming-of-age erotic romance story surrounding the eponymous task that is crossplaying. Crossplay is, for those still a little unsure, is dressing up against one’s biological sex. Think of it a little bit like drag. Most crossplayers are not always transgender though some (like me) are genderqueer. And crossplay is not always a key indication of sexual orientation or other potential kinkiness of any one individual.

Getting into the first pages of Crossplay felt almost too real. A group of friends work through photoshoots and hotel arrangements during a major convention, all of these are things I do regularly as I plan for conventions with my own friends and it’s a very realistic peek into a less than sensational aspect of many cosplayer’s routines during con. It almost felt like someone had taken conversations I’ve had in hotel rooms with my own friends and fellow cosplayers. 

We are introduced to a group of diverse and wonderfully drawn characters with wholesome discussion of fandom and some of the less than spectacular aspects of a photo shoot, even a very small but heartfelt question about binding: a topic that is near and dear to my heart as someone who has to bind for the sake of several costumes.

Chapter two almost immediately gets smutty and it’s splendidly well-drawn and well-done and wonderfully queer and supportive as well as surprisingly sweet. There’s nothing like smut that moves plot and I support every part of it.

And as we move through plot and character development for the next few chapters, we are in chapter five given a scene that touched me personally. This smutty little scene centers around Lee, a trans male and J a non-binary/genderqueer person. J, who has a broken arm, has felt down the entire con due to an injury making it difficult to dress themselves. J is feeling what many know as dysphoria: not feeling comfortable in one’s skin. Lee kindly helps J into a binder and the resulting boost in confidence and feeling more at home in one’s body results in the two exploring each other’s bodies with wonderful results. I know this feeling of watching the shape of my body change in a binder and seeing it played out in a comic almost brought a tear to my eyes.

Crossplay is fantastic and I cannot recommend it enough. It’s good smutty 18+ fun with plenty of authentic diversity and heart. I’ve never seen a series so carefully balance so many different lifestyles from polyamory to monogamy and even very carefully and tactfully handling how genderqueer and transgender people love themselves and one another. I had an amazing time reading this graphic novel and I look forward to reading it again.

 

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