Funded by a Kickstarter campaign and spearheaded by editors, Shannon O’Leary and Joan Reilly, The Big Feminist But has long been anticipated by both feminists and fans of indie comics. Featuring a variety of male and female voices, Big Feminist But examines not only what it means to be a feminist, but also some of the most basic cultural problems attached to womanhood, including identity, partnership, and personal safety.
The anthology structure of this book gives it a broad range in both artistic and literary style. Whether into sleek lines, sketchy action scenes, or artsy washes of paint, every art fan will find something to love here. Regardless of the style, the art is all high-grade and engaging.
A great deal of this book’s visual appeal is due to how clearly personal the creators find the subject matter. Most of the stories incorporate the creators themselves in situations that are relatable and generally uplifting, though a few are grittier and more sexual. The few vignettes that aren’t stated to be personal to the authors are sometimes darker, especially Shannon O’Leary and Ric Carrasquillo’s visually and narratively shocking “Asking For It.” These add heft to a work that might otherwise have ended up a little light in the loafers, a collection of individual experiences rather than a real statement about the state of gender equality.
The final story in this volume, Andrice Arp’s “The Labyrinth,” addresses this anthology’s true strength: bringing men and women together to discuss feminism. As the chicken character in this story says, “women and men talking about feminism, to me, is much more interesting than just throwing a bunch of women together and assuming the result will be a feminist statement.” Female creators are up-front and caring in regards to their male allies, and creators like Jeffrey Brown and Mark Pritchard help round out Big Feminist But into a dialogue instead of a diatribe. The upshot is the kind of book that actually does change minds about feminism, a perfect addendum to the ongoing discussion about gender equality.
The Big Feminist But
by Shannon O’Leary, Joan Reilly, MariNaomi, Kristina Collantes, Trevor Alixopulos, Vanessa Davis, Mark Pritchard, Gabrielle Bell, Beth Lisick, Andrice Arp, Jesse Reklaw, Noah Berlatsky, Jen Wang, Ed Luce, Hilary Florido, Corinne Mucha, Abby Denson, Barry Deutsch, Shaenon K. Garrity, Suzanne Kleid, Emily Flake, Virginia Paine, Justin Hall, Angie Wang, Dylan Williams, Sarah Oleksyk, Jen Wang, Ron Rege, Jr. Sari Wilson, Charlie Jane Anders, Ulli Lust, Kai Pfeiffer, Stina Lofgren, Lisa Ullmann, Lauren Weinstein, Andi Zeisler, Jeffrey Brown
Art by Joan Reilly, MariNaomi, Abby Denson, Corinne Mucha, Hilary Florido, MK Reed, Gabrielle Bell, Liz Baillie, Ric Carrasquillo, Trevor Alixopulos, Vanessa Davis, Kristina Collantes, Angie Wang, Stina Lofgren, Ulli Lust, Kai Pfeiffer, Britt Wilson, Josh Neufeld, Ron Rege, Jr., Sarah Oleksyk, Dylan Williams, Justin Hall, Virginia Paine, Shaenon K. Garrity, Barry Deutsch, Ed Luce, Jen Wang, Noah Berlatsky, Andrice Arp, Jesse Reklaw, Jeffrey Brown, Andi Zeisler, Lauren Weinstein, Emily Flake, Kat Roberts, Kristina Collantes, Ric Carasquillo
Alternative Comics, 2014