So I actually sat down and read Mine!: A Celebration of Liberty and Freedom for All Benefiting Planned Parenthood, a very thick comics anthology that I contributed to. My own story, “In Defense of Self” (art and letters by the amazing Tom Daly) came out looking very nice.
This anthology is important to have simply because Planned Parenthood needs all the support it can get, especially with PP coming under fire by alleged moralists who think it’s just an abortion factory, not understanding how important it is for medical care for people with little money. (As is often the case, what people say is moralism is usually classism instead.)
But regardless of the charity or benefits or politics or anything like that, it’s also a damn good anthology. There’s not a bad story in the bunch, and there are several that particularly stood out to me:
“Inspired by True Events” by Glenn Greenberg & Nick Guarracino. The anthology is full of stories like this, about what life is like working for Planned Parenthood, but this one stood out for me because the people in it felt so real.
“Tea Cakes” by Irene Johnson & Rob Jones. This very personal and real story about a family and food and recipes and secrets and stuff just hit me right on the heart. This wasn’t a treacly story about love and affection but a very complex story about the difficulties of dealing with family.
“Silence” by Josh Trujillo & Maia Kobabe. There’s no actual dialogue in this story, and it’s a perfect metaphor for how hard it is for people to talk about the medical issues that they go to PP for.
“Gloria Richardson” by Mark Waid & Josh Broglia. Of all the biographical pieces in the anthology — and there are about a dozen — this is my favorite, mainly because Mark doesn’t just do straight narration, but instead tells the story in his own voice, which makes it much more effective. And yeah, Richardson was a badass…..
“I Stand” by Pat Shand & Liana Kangas. An excellent compilation of stories gathered by a student recording testimonials, but what really made it was the moralist on the subway, who was brilliantly subtle and insidious, and I particularly like the way the protagonist worked her way through her depression and annoyance at being ambushed like that. Really well done.
“Resistance is Fertile” by Matt Miner & David Stoll. An excellent portrayal of someone struggling with gender identity. I particularly like that Stoll drew the protagonist in color with everyone else in black and white, a simple yet effective bit of symbolism.
“Stained Glass Sex Talk” by Gabby Rivera & Brittney Williams. One of the many autobiographical tales, this one spoke to me in particular as a fellow Bronx native and a lapsed Catholic.
“What You Don’t Know Can” by Devin Grayson & Eugenia Koumaki. A bitterly amusing story that collects all the dumbshit things that people really do believe about reproduction and biology which are all 100% wrong, and reminds you that people really will believe the dumbest things…..
“The Job” by Josh Olson & Jon Cairns. The perfect bookend to “Inspired by True Events,” as this tells the story of a PP doctor who treats anybody — even one of the protesters outside.
But the best story in the book is the incredibly brilliant and powerful “The Bride” by Mindy Newell & Andrea Shockling. The longest story in the book by far (it’s 14 where most are 1-6 or so), but it benefits from the storytelling space, as Mindy & Andrea tell a heartbreaking story of a woman who does what’s expected of her rather than what would actually make her happy. She lets other people define her, but she doesn’t really have a choice, because nobody ever gives her the opportunity to define herself. The story ends in tragedy, and it’s just brutal. The whole book’s worth it for this story.
I can’t speak to the quality of “In Defense of Self,” the story by me and Tom, but I will say that Tom and I have wanted to collaborate on something for ages. Tom is a black belt in the same discipline as me, and we finally found that project to do together in Mine! Since we’re both martial artists, and since we figured the anthology would have plenty of medical-type stories, we decided to stay in our wheelhouse and do a story about self-defense and how empowering it can be. We didn’t want to favor one martial art over another, so we had our protagonist taking a generic self-defense class, and patterned the teacher after the woman who co-runs Tom’s dojo, Kyoshi Jennifer.
It turns out that one other creator had the same idea, as Blue Delliquanti did a story about a krav maga student (entitled “Krav
Maga“), but it’s not really anything like our story. Besides, in an anthology this big, there’s going to be a lot of idea overlap, and it’s to the credit of editors Joe Corallo and Molly Jackson that those overlapping ideas aren’t repetitive in the least.
I strongly urge people to buy this anthology. It’s brilliantly done, for a good cause, and just some nifty stuff.