Drawing Power: Women’s Stories of Sexual Violence, Harassment, and Survival is a collection of over 60 short comics from female artists inspired by the #MeToo movement. Each piece is a true story, brought to life in comic form, from the author’s past experience with sexual harassment, violence, the aftermath of that experience, or in some cases, multiple experiences. It is sometimes difficult, sometimes inspiring, sometimes eye-opening, and sometimes all too familiar to read.
This collection should be celebrated not only for the women whose voices it lifts up but also for the diversity of those voices. The authors come from a wide variety of backgrounds, races, sexualities, ages, and experiences, and all of their stories are told in a thought-provoking way. Some stories are told from more recent experiences, but many stories depict experiences from 30 to 40+ years ago, and the women are only now writing about them for the first time. One of the pervasive themes of the collection is the sense of shame that causes women to be silent, but by sharing their stories, they are able to lift themselves and one another up to survive.
The stories and artwork themselves are just as diverse as the women who tell them. The experiences recounted in this collection range from rape to groping bosses to sexual comments made on the train home from work and everything in between. Each woman gets a chance to tell her story, whether it be a lifelong struggle with past experiences or a recent brief encounter with a stranger. Some stories use a literal approach to depicting what happened to them while others choose to use metaphors. Some stories are illustrated in the traditional comic-book panel style, while others have full-page, flowing illustrations. Some are in black and white; some are in color. The diversity of art styles reflects the diverse experiences of these women to make for a beautiful collection.
Because the stories are short, the book is good for picking up and putting down easily, which may be the best way to read it. For instance, I was only able to get through about five stories in each sitting before I needed to step away and come back later, due to the emotional weight of the stories. But it is nevertheless a fantastic book for those looking for #MeToo reads and an important collection to continue to share those stories. As the amazing Roxane Gay states in the introduction of the collection, “by using the power of drawing, they show us the condition of the lives they have lived, the condition of our culture, and the vital work we must do to render the need for an anthology like this obsolete.”
A copy of this book was provided by the publisher, Abrams ComicArts, for review.