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Review: Graphic Reproduction: A Comics Anthology

While it is so often considered taboo and explicit, so much of the world revolves on sex and people’s deepest desires. People are obsessed with the optics of what makes someone sexy. Movies, music, television, books, and comics, all rely on it to make themselves more scintillating. Though the subject still makes us uncomfortable.

The main purpose of sex is for reproduction, while pleasure is simply a byproduct of the act. This concept is somewhat is thought in every sex education, but rarely do they get into the details of the reproductive cycle, not only childbirth, but also child loss, and how thousands of couples try to conceive every year. As the world has evolved, becoming more conscientious of how much the truth matters, the more creators have come forward to make the facts and reality more transparent. In Graphic Reproduction: A Comics Anthology, a bevy of talented writers and artists have come forward to give readers, the unadulterated truth of the reproductive process.

The graphic novel covers a lot of topics. In “Abortion Eve,” the reader follows a young lady scheduled for an abortion as she has a frank conversation about the realities of undergoing the process. In “Not Funny Ha-Ha,” the reader learns of the two types of abortion procedures and what to expect. In “Spooky Womb,” a woman on her 30th birthday realizes her relationship with her womb is tantamount to her well-being. In “Utero: A Cluster of Comics,” Paula Knight examines the many insecurities and challenges women must go through about their bodies, their sexuality, and the reproductive process. In “Present/Perfect,” Jenell Johnson takes the reader through the struggles of deciding to have a child and turmoil connected to each alternative. In “A Significant Loss: The Story Of My Miscarriage,” Endrene Shepherd gives readers an engrossing view of her journey from finding out she was pregnant to her miscarriage followed by her postpartum depression and eventual acceptance of self and situation. “Losing Thomas and Ella: A Father’s Story,” Weaver-Hightower dives into his family’s emotional journey after losing his twins after childbirth. In “Pregnant Butch: Nine Long Months Spent in Drag,” A.K Summers, the reader gets a front row seat of the struggles being a butch lesbian and being pregnant. In “Pushing Back: A Home Birth Story,” Bethany Doane tells her unique experience with home child birth and what happens after. In “Overwhelmed, Anxious and Angry: Navigating Postpartum Depression,” we follow Dr. Zucker as she talks to different patients about their fights with postpartum depression. In “Anatomy Of A New Mom,” Tyler gives a satirical infographic of the modern mother. In the last story, “Spawn Of Dyke to Watch Out For,” Alison Bechdel tells a hilarious tale of one child birth where a woman undergoes a home birth with the help of some overzealous friends.

Overall, the collection is impressive with creators whose honesty and heart shines through every story. It shows how illuminating personal truths only helps to educate the world. It opens the eyes of readers to make them understand that millions of women deal with this every day. The stories are heartfelt, relevant, and entertaining. The art is warm and engaging. Altogether, it’s both an important teaching tool and a study in empathy.

Editor: Jenell Johnson
Story: Jenell Johnson, Susan Merrill Squier, Joyce Meyer, Lyn Chevli, Paula Knight, Leah Hayes, Endrene Shepherd, Marcus B. Weaver-Hightower, A.K Summers, Bethany Doane, Jessica Zucker, Carol Tyler, Alison Bechdel

Art: Joyce Meyer, Lyn Chevli, Paula Knight, Leah Hayes, Jenell Johnson, Endrene Shepherd, Marcus B. Weaver-Hightower, A.K Summers, Bethany Doane, Ryan Alexander-Tanner, Carol Tyler, Alison Bechdel
Story: 10 Art: 8.6 Overall: 9.3 Recommendation: Buy

Graphic Reproduction, a Comics Anthology from Penn State University Press

Penn State University Press has announced the release of Graphic Reproduction. This comics anthology delves deeply into the messy and often taboo subject of human reproduction. Featuring work by luminaries such as Carol Tyler, Alison Bechdel, and Joyce FarmerGraphic Reproduction is an illustrated challenge to dominant cultural narratives about conception, pregnancy, and childbirth. The anthology is edited by Jenell Johnson with an afterword by Susan Merrill Squier.

The comics here expose the contradictions, complexities, and confluences around diverse individual experiences of the entire reproductive process, from trying to conceive to child loss and childbirth. Jenell Johnson’s introduction situates comics about reproduction within the growing field of graphic medicine and reveals how they provide a discursive forum in which concepts can be explored and presented as uncertainties rather than as part of a prescribed or expected narrative. Through comics such as Lyn Chevley’s groundbreaking “Abortion Eve,” Bethany Doane’s “Pushing Back: A Home Birth Story,” Leah Hayes’s “Not Funny Ha-Ha,” and “Losing Thomas & Ella: A Father’s Story,” by Marcus B. Weaver-Hightower, the collection explores a myriad of reproductive experiences and perspectives. The result is a provocative, multifaceted portrait of one of the most basic and complicated of all human experiences, one that can be hilarious and heartbreaking.

Featuring work by well-known comics artists as well as exciting new voices, this incisive collection is an important and timely resource for understanding how reproduction intersects with sociocultural issues. The afterword and a section of discussion exercises and questions make it a perfect teaching tool.

Review: Comics for Choice Anthology

The issue of abortion, has been a hot topic longer than most of us have been alive. It is also very complicated on so many levels. The thing is no matter what side of this issue you accept as right, we all should believe that it is a woman’s choice, whether she should have one. Unfortunately, the die-hard anti-abortionists don’t believe in this idea, and the sad truth is no one and no man should have domain over a woman’s body. In a recently published anthology addressing this subject, Hazel Newlevant, Whit Taylor and OK Fox, and a host of other creators share stories in a Comics For Choice.

In Encountering Abortion Restrictions: From Kenya to Texas MJ Flores and Kat Fajardo, tells MJ’s own distressing story of what lead her to an abortion halfway around the world. In They Call Her Dr. D, Dr. Cynthia Greenlee and Jaz Malone tells Dr. Dorothy Brown’s story, who was Tennessee’s first black woman legislator and pushed one of the first state sponsored pro-abortion bills. In The Outcasts Heidi Williamson and Julia Krase, imagine a future where women’s sexual activities and reproductive health decisions were monitored daily and those who don’t comply, were jailed. In Body & Soul, Science and Religion Kriota Willberg, dives into the whole evolution from conception to birth in painstaking detail.

In Saturday Morning, Benita Ulisano and Laura Martin, shows how pro-life protesters attack people who go to these clinics. In Plan C, Nomi Kane educates readers about a third effective method to avoid pregnancy, that is not as widely known. In October, Kris Louis tells her story and the anxiety, and the loneliness brought it to her. In Bearing Witness, Mick Doran tells her story as an Abortion Doula, and how her work extends beyond the clinic.

Overall, each of these stories I highlighted as well as those I did not are universal, powerful, personal and beautiful. The stories by each of these creators, are deeply affecting, some are heartbreaking, some are relatable, but all are instantly connected. The art by different creators, makes for some visually striking work while at the same time educating the reader. Altogether an excellent anthology that should be read by all, regardless of your political or philosophical ideology.

Story: MJ Flores, Kendra Josie Kirkpatrick, Jennifer Camper, Dr. Cynthia Greenlee, Rickie Solinger, Rachel Wilson, Hallie Jay Pope, Anna Sellheim, Brittany Mostiller, Lindsay Rodriguez, Sam Romero, Candice Russell, Heidi Williamson, Cathy Camper, Kriota Willberg, Katie Brown & Andrew Carl, Benita Ulisano, Steph Kraft Sheley, Nomi Kane & the Plan   C Team, Sarah Mirk, Kris Louis, Emily Lady, Sage Coffey, Rachel Hays, Leah Hayes, Tanya DePass, Tatiana Gill, Mick Moran, Anna Bongiovanni, Daniela Diaz, Renee Bracey Sherman, Jennifer Camper, Michelle Kinsey Bruns, Jensine Eckwall, Yamani Hernandez, Claudia E. Berger, Mallory McMaster, Bree Jordan, CB Hart, Anise Simon, Sophia Foster-Dimino, Vreni
Art: Kat Fajardo, Kendra Josie Kirkpatrick, Jennifer Camper, Jaz Malone, Rachel Merrill, Ally Shwed, Hallie Jay Pope, Anna Sellheim, Lilly Taing, Lucy Haslam, Erin Lux, Laura Lannes, Julia Krase, Jennifer Camper, Kriota Willberg, Ahmara Smith, Laura Martin, Steph Kraft Sheley, Nomi Kane , Sarah Mirk, Kris Louis, Emily Lady, Sage Coffey, Rachel Hays, Leah Hayes, Wren Chavers, Tatiana Gill, Mick Moran, Anna Bongiovanni, Stephanie Rodriguez, Kennedy Tarrell, Katie Fricas, Gianna Meola, Jensine Eckwall, Sharon Rimann, Claudia E. Berger, Kate Kerns, Bree Jordan, CB Hart, Sarah Crowe, Sophia Foster-Dimino, Vreni
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

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