Voices That Count: A Comics Anthology by Women

Edited by Megan Brown, trans. from the Spanish by Diego Jourdan Pereira. IDW, $16.99 (144p) ISBN 978-1-68405-917-1

This earnest if uneven anthology showcases nine stories about women’s experience in the Western world. The narratives cover familiar themes of constraining gender roles, distorted body image, and professional discrimination. “Empowered” by Estefanía Molina and Ana Oncina offers the attractive art and clean page design of infographic-style comics, but its patronizing tone undercuts the visual friendliness, as the author repeatedly chides women for not asserting themselves. In the strongest piece, “The Bug,” Diana López Varela recounts her struggle with an eating disorder. The cute, manga-style art by Akira Pantsu effectively contrasts beauty with the horrors of the pressures to achieve it, which manifest as maggots and parasitic insects. “Turtle Steps” by Sandra Sabatés and Sandra Cardona explores the evolving role of women’s work through the lives of four women, from an early 20th-century farm worker to a contemporary television reporter. The anthology closes on an uncomfortable note with “Mzungu,” written by pilot and soccer coach Patricia Campos, which lauds Campos’s humanitarian work in Uganda, drawn by Sara Soler. None of the Ugandans in the story speak, though Campos declares she brought them “happiness and values.” The white savior narrative seems to raise the question: Whose voices matter here? Though there’s bright spots, overall the collection could have used more of a searching light. (June)
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