Today my partner was like, hey when are you going to write another post about comics for your blog? And now I am sitting here waiting for the mailman to drop a copy of Valley of the Dolls on my stoop (Amazon.com has promised me it will arrive by 8 p.m. today), and I just felt like, you know what? Today I will post my long-percolating review of a comic about abortion.
This is the kind of book I hope my present and future girl relatives find when they go through my bookshelves because in some parallel universe, I imagine myself finding this lil text during a sleepover at a cool aunt’s house. And in this parallel universe, I am saved from years of anxiety and not-knowing-about-my-body-ness that I’ve dealt with for much of my young adult life (Dear Ohio, Abstinence only education is a public. health. crisis.) thanks to Leah Hayes’s sharp, insightful “handbook for something hard.”
Opening on end papers that are dotted with tampon boxes and maxi pads in a line I can only describe as part diary-level cruddy, part girlish, all beautiful, Hayes transmits medical knowledge about women’s bodies in brief pages where that body is the central guiding force of the visual narrative. This is what Aline Kominsky-Crumb might have made after “Goldie” if her hand hadn’t taken her in stranger directions. Hayes has that same sense of how emotion narrates itself on the body, so the women (or girls, she switches) we follow (one accessing a medical abortion, one surgical) are not just bodies that offer themselves up for medical inquiry, but allow the reader to catch that feeling of the night before, the sitting in the waiting room the day of, and the lying on the couch at home after. While Hayes stresses community (“if you can, the best thing to do first is tell someone in your life who you trust. you don’t need to go through this alone.”), she also speaks to the moments where a girl or woman is inevitably alone during this process, and let’s readers know that this will be o.k., too.
I am learning every day in a million little ways that it is fucking hard to take control of your body, to make choices about it and for it, and so, to all my past, present and future girls: may this be a little fold in the map pointing you towards recovering your body, the one you want for yourself.
xoxo 16-year-old me
I wanna tell you about these two little love letters I picked up today at Kafe Kerouac (shouts to Kafe Kerouac, thank you Jack): “Sorry I Can’t Come In On Monday I’m Really Sick” by Jane Mai and “Cyanide Milkshake no. 6″ by Liz Suburbia (whose excellent Sacred Heart was hands down the thing that kept me breathing this past December). I am very blessed to be living in Columbus, not only because it is the heartland of the midwest (don’t test me), but also because it is quickly becoming the heartland of comics with several little arteries (The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library, The Laughing Ogre, my phd adviser [hi], CCAD, Kafe Kerouac, the list goes on) that are working very hard to pump blood to the rest of indie comics’ limbs. And let me say that I counted all these little arteries as my blessings this morning when I almost bought up most of KK’s freshly stocked mini comics section, but was able to limit myself to two little comics that really called to me.
sorry i can’t come in on monday i’m really sick
O.K. you guys this little thing is just – I will say that I am currently trying to revise an academic paper that is primarily about girls lying in bed and crying, and so when I opened Jane Mai’s slim chapbook and got slapped in the face with her “Coporeality is bullshit” I was like, “Just take all of my money (I have $5).” The drawings are spare in Mai’s mini comic, but I feel like she’s getting at some big questions here such as, “do they have plastic surgery for ugly crying tho.” This tiny diatribe against having a (female) body (that is always betraying you, that is always under attack, that is always making you feel inadequate), and how hating your body is actually the opposite of suicide REALLY FUCKING SPOKE. TO. ME. YOU GUYS. This girl’s selfies are uncanny, odd, and probably the best ten or so pages you’ll read on the subject. Jane Mai, I’ve got my eye on you: http://www.janemai.co/
cyanide milkshake no. 6
So initially I did not pick up “Cyanide Milkshake no. 6″ but then I saw some dude reading it at the table next to me and I realized Kerouac was stocking Liz Suburbia and that that boy was undeserving of it and so I waited until he abandoned it at his table and snatched it up so now it’s mine. Like I said earlier, Liz Suburbia’s first full length fancy comic really got to me at the close of 2015. I had heard about C.M. but hadn’t been cool enough to get my hands on a comic (so, also like I said, blessings). Suburbia’s stories come at you fast and hard in this zine and she writes about all the good things from dogs to dogs discovering their reflections to levitation to sitting on the toilet in a style I can only describe as Jaime Hernandez as a Middle School Girl Misanthrope. I just love her shit and there is a beautiful note at the end of this guy that I really needed to read this week. The highlights: “Will you make the love you give + the things you do with love a fucking meritocracy, or will you work towards the ideal that there’s no objective standard of value?…Keep your eyes on your own paper, + stay open + compassionate to those who are doing the same.” I want these words tattooed on my body, Liz. Thank you: http://lizsuburbia.tumblr.com/
That’s all for now. I love you. Support your local comics artists, support your local comics peddlers, support mini comics creators, but above all else, support girls and women making comics. xoxo Two Socks