Monday, March 09, 2009

Webcomics That Make A Difference For Women

Comic books work great to communicate controversial topics to a large audience. Make that comic available on the web for free, and you have the power to reach a bigger audience than you might ever dreamed possible. The following three webcomics address sensitive women's issues with a great frankness and courage, and demonstrate what can be done using this medium for the cause of education & social justice.

Unmasked: The Ariella Dadon Story, by Inbal Freund-Novick and Chari Pere, tells the story of a 28-year-old woman who finally receives a get (a Jewish divorce) from her abusive and violent husband. Pere draws Ariella with a cracked "happy face" mask during her unhappy marriage and unsuccessful attempts to get away from her husband, and it is a haunting and devastating motif. "Unmasked" is offered in both English & Hebrew. As one website put it, this is an "Online Comic Breaking Chains."

The Shake Girl is an online graphic novel created by members of the 2008 Stanford University Graphic Novel Project -- a massive collaborative effort between 15 students and 2 instructors. It is inspired by the life of Tat Marina, a former karaoke performer from Cambodia who had acid thrown in her face as a teenager as the result of a love affair gone bad. "Beware of powerful men who may kill you if you refuse their advances, and beware of their wives who will kill you if you do not." The result is a moving story whose many different artists manage to capture the different seasons in the young protagonist's life.

Hathor the Cow Goddess is a funny and often poignant webcomic about motherhood and pregnancy by Heather Cushman-Dowdee. Cushman-Dowdee tackles such issues as the right to publicly breast feed, the unusually high number of c-sections being performed, and embracing natural methods of child birth and child rearing. In one strip, a doctor who is pushing for a c-section is portrayed as a scalpel; in another, the title character reads a newspaper article with the headline "Woman Refuses C-Section Is Charged With Murder." Cushman-Dowdee also has another pregnancy-related webcomic called Mama Is....

These are but three examples of how women (and, in the case of the Stanford collaborative project, women& men) have used webcomics to help each other and help better the world in which they live in.


  1. Sorry that last thread got hijacked...I never got to mention Jan Dursemma and Jessica Abel.

  2. I'ts also of note that in webcomics, even male creators often use female protagonists---in MAGELLAN, the initial story had Kaycee Jones as the main focus...GUNNERKRIGG COURT has a female own superhero(ine) webcomic, MINDMISTRESS, has a female protagonist, etc. It's much more evenly split, even in superhero webcomics, than mainstream comics, on what sex the protagonists are.cdsen

  3. "Sorry that last thread got hijacked"

    It might have gotten hijacked, but that negativity only drives me to make more posts about women, women working with other women, and women's comic book work. Because I realize exactly how damn much these posts are needed.

  4. It's fun if women's issues aren't the main raison d'ĂȘtre for a webcomic, but you just get that as a bonus as part of great storytelling, compelling characters, and thrills/laughts.

  5. More on women in comics -

    you forgot to list yourself, didn't you?

  6. See, here's the thing about Hathor the Cow Goddess; she's a horrible person. She insists that her way is the only way, and that all who disagree with her are mindless idiots.

    Suddenly I see why you like her so much.