What a year it has been for women. 2017 featured attacks on women's health—everything from threats to funding for Planned Parenthood to multiple attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act (which, let's be honest, affects everyone, not just women). On the upside, there was also the Women's March in January and the #MeToo movement, started by Tarana Burke in 2007, and revived by Alyssa Milano this year, providing a reckoning for all female-identifying victims of harassment and abuse. With the publication of Mine!, a comics anthology to support Planned Parenthood, the medium takes a turn at amplifying women's voices, celebrating women, and the autonomy they can (and should) have over their bodies and their health care, and the good work Planned Parenthood does each day in defiance of its critics.
The anthology features stories for anyone and everyone. There are stories of the history of Planned Parenthood, its founders, and other notables. There are stories about the mother of birth control, Margaret Sanger, and one of the little known pioneers of women's suffrage, Matilda Joslyn Gage. There are provocative pieces that show us what Planned Parenthood employees face each day, and what our world would be like without Planned Parenthood in it. There are stories that educate the reader on the services Planned Parenthood provides outside of abortions: preventive health care, cancer screening, birth control, sexual education. This isn't a preachy anthology, though; there's plenty of fun within these pages. I want the Emma Goldman action figure for my toy collection, for starters. Lauren Sisselman's "The Driver" and Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang's "Fright of the Morning Dread" insert the themes of the anthology seamlessly into classic superhero fare.
Each artist is allowed the freedom to create in their own style, giving each vignette its own emotional resonance. "I Am Home" by Lilah Sturges and Sfe R. Monster, a story of a transgender journey of acceptance, is colored only in pink, blue, and white—the colors of the transgender pride flag. In "Words," by Amber Benson, Sarah Kuhn, and Sina Grace, Grace takes his black and white pastel-inspired style and, like the film Schindler's List, inserts a single pop of color (an orange clinic escort vest) to signify the courage of those volunteers who face words (and sometimes more) as they give their time to help those looking to visit Planned Parenthood for services. Geeks OUT's own Alexa Cassaro provides us the innocence of first love in "My Teddy Girl" with anime and kawaii-influenced character designs.
It's the prose that is most memorable in this anthology. The stories that stuck with me most deeply were the ones of women carrying their burdens alone. Mindy Newell's "The Bride" details a woman forced into a marriage due to unplanned pregnancy, who ultimately loses her life to a back-alley abortion when she finds herself pregnant again. She dies alone on a makeshift operating table, her secret hidden from her best friend and husband. Neil Gaiman's "And There was Joy" is a deeply moving tale of his wife's first miscarriage, the actual act happening while she was alone in a friend's bathroom and Neil was at an speaking engagement. Stories like these highlight the physical, mental, and emotional loads we always carry, proof that women are stronger than they appear. We are truly made of steel.
If there's any drawback to this anthology, it's the lack of a table of contents or index (at least in the digital version). These are stories you're going to want to read again and again, and share with loved ones again and again. They should be easy to find.
The talent that has stepped up to contribute to this work is vast and unparalleled, a testimony to the influence and respect for Planned Parenthood, and for women. Those that try to defund it—and demean women—will not find an easy fight.
All proceeds from the sale of Mine! will go directly to Planned Parenthood.
Mine! edited by Joe Corallo and Molly Jackson
Pre-order your copy here