Let it be said right now: THIS BOOK IS NOT FOR ANYONE UNDER EIGHTEEN YEARS OF AGE. Better yet, this book is not for anyone uncomfortable with strong sexual overtones and open sexuality. If you can’t get through an episode of Queer as Folk or The “L” Word, you are better off forgetting it. That said, Exorcism and Pogo Sticks has a charm all its own that one can’t help appreciate—once your guard has been let down.
“Yaoi” is a term of mixed origin but has been popularly associated with manga of male homo-erotic content, typically crafted for straight female audiences. Granted, the appeal of such content for heterosexual females has been largely unexplored by mainstream culture in a country where female homo-erotic content for males is common.
Given this background, a title like Exorcisms and Pogo Sticks might take on much “punnier” subtext. Orchiee Fairchild traverses the land on his pogo stick with his best friend and sometimes intimate companion, Doodoo, a living marionette who doesn’t talk but can be mighty resourceful. Fairchild arrives in the city of East Neatoefalma without any real means of income other than his knack for exorcism. But students at Kingsgoie Lanzbarg University are being assaulted, and Fairchild decides he should investigate—though his initiative is more stimulated by the student body(ies) than by the actual problem. In particular, Fairchild takes a liking to Phillip Gillson and discovers that the feeling is mutual - but the demon terrorizing the campus has other plans in mind for them.
Right from the start, readers are given to fully understand how much of an adult story this is, but the charm generates from the ease and light-heartedness of it all. Fairchild is an amusing, fairy-like character whose excitement and energy can be felt in every panel. His good-natured attitude and jovial exuberance make him loveable and endearing, particularly when he swoons over Gillson.
The art works well except that the over-feminization of the male characters is likely to confuse readers as to what they are reading or figuring out who is what gender. The sex scenes are detailed but not graphic. Readers receive full understanding of what is going on without Doerr actually revealing genitalia. Ultimately, it is neither very erotic nor very pornographic or exploitative like a cheesy 1970s horror flick. In this regard, the sex and sexuality exudes something altogether different that U.S. audiences are not likely to appreciate or understand, at least not with a little time to become better acquainted with this genre.
Of course, elements of sex and violence permeate this book, but at the same time, the light, even humorous nature of the story gives weight to how serious it should be taken. Those looking for something new and interesting would certainly have plenty to digest by picking up this graphic novel.