Big Nana and Joey
Joey Tormino, author
A suffocating family…High anxiety…Hot Latino beauties…Joey doesn’t have a chance in hell of becoming a babe magnet until he confronts these adversaries. Big Nana and Joey is a comic, graphic novella about a boy who fights his insecurities and a stifling Sicilian grandmother to persist in his pursuit of libidinous pleasure. The story is crafted from humorous and inspirational events in my adolescent life. It’s the sixties in Valencia City, an ethnic Florida community, Latinos and Sicilians live side by side, goats and chickens room freely in front yards, an enclave where salsa dancing and Saturday night cockfights titillate working class immigrants. Carnal envy, it drives pubescent Joey crazy. He lives in the shadow of best friend Rick – a hormonally-gifted hunk – who snares olive-skinned beauties at a dizzying pace. Joey wants to emulate his pal, but he must deal with Big Nana. She doesn’t give a damn about his corporeal desires, save his penchant for pizza, pasta and gigantic meatballs, which she prays will fatten him into a pudgy opera star. What’s a babe-magnet wannabe with a big voice and larger-than-life Nana supposed to do? He puts on forty pounds of muscle, perfects the art of academic mediocrity, chases head majorette Ophelia until she promises to date him (“Sure Joey, when you can dunk a basketball…backwards”). His shenanigans fail to impress. Just when life seems dismal and dark, our protagonist scores a major victory, not with the luscious Valencia gals, but over his most feared rivals – the brilliant boys from St. Vincent’s Academy for Catholic Prodigies. This metamorphosis from bad boy to ‘brain’ surprises everyone, especially Big Nana. The heartaches of high school teach Joey the values of discipline and transcending hardships, principles preached by his family since they left Sicily to live in America. The inspirational Epilogue shows Joey and his gang, The Valencia City Boys, achieving their immigrant parents’ wildest academic and professional dreams. Big Nana and Joey is for anyone who has encountered puberty and pimples, a high school humiliation, a devastating snub from a hot babe or hormonal hunk. Baby boomers will identify with the sixties theme, an ethnic American Graffiti. The narrative and comic illustrations will leave readers inspired and laughing for a long time.