Activism Comics Memoir

Read Save It for Later

Read Save It for Later: Promises, Protest, and Parenthood by Nate Powell

In seven interwoven comics essays, author and graphic novelist Nate Powell addresses living in an era of what he calls “necessary protest.” Save It for Later: Promises, Parenthood, and the Urgency of Protest is Powell’s reflection on witnessing the collapse of discourse in real time while drawing the award-winning trilogy March, written by Congressman John Lewis and Andrew Aydin, this generation’s preeminent historical account of nonviolent revolution in the civil rights movement. Powell highlights both the danger of normalized paramilitary presence symbols in consumer pop culture, and the roles we play individually as we interact with our communities, families, and society at large.
Each essay tracks Powell’s journey from the night of the election—promising his four-year-old daughter that Trump will never win, to the reality of the authoritarian presidency, protesting the administration’s policies, and navigating the complications of teaching his children how to raise their own voices in a world that is becoming increasingly dangerous and more and more polarized. While six of the seven essays are new, unpublished work, Powell has also included “About Face,” a comics essay first published by Popula Online that swiftly went viral and inspired him to expand his work on Save It for Later. The seventh and final essay will contextualize the myriad events of 2020 with the previous four years—from the COVID-19 pandemic to global protests in the wake of George Floyd’s murder to the 2020 presidential election itself—highlighting both the consistencies and inversions of widely shared experiences and observations amidst a massive social upheaval.
As Powell moves between subjective and objective experiences raising his children—depicted in their childhood innocence as imaginary anthropomorphic animals—he reveals the electrifying sense of trust and connection with neighbors and strangers in protest. He also explores how to equip young people with tools to best make their own noise as they grow up and help shape the direction and future of this country.

I found this more depressing than empowering — in that respect, I would point anyone to March over this (also, March is phenomenal). That’s not to say this is bad — it’s a very thoughtful, personal reflection on the Trump years (please say we’re done with them) and on raising children to understand social justice and protest in a world that is rapidly falling into fascism. The feeling of despair over watching America fall to fascists is certainly relatable, though I don’t agree with all of his perspectives or conclusions.

It’s unapologetically progressive, while also recognizing that each generation gets over more of its baggage and is able to deal with social justice better. That said, there were moments I wanted more from the essays — places where I’m seeing a conclusion that he didn’t quite commit to. What he sees is that his parents were complacent about racial injustice while he’s underestimated the powerful undercurrent of right wing hatred.

Throughout, the way he talks about fascists is infantilizing and dehumanizing, which I think is a mistake. While their views are evil and the way they act is dangerous, “a child’s power fantasy played out in adulthood, speaking only the language of power, the intellectual crudeness of reaction, contrarianism, opposition,” it’s vital to not turn fascists into monsters or people who are too immature to make their own decisions. To remember that these are regular people who have chosen this mindset of hatred and dominance. They are responsible for their choices.

I disagree with his viewpoint that in-person protest — marching — is the only way to make change. In recent years I’ve read more about mutual aid and the different parts we all have to play in change — for example, “Good Trouble” highlights the importance of behind the scenes organizers like people prepping food for the community and arranging rides, etc. Marching is important. So is building community and advocating for local policy and having difficult conversations and writing about issues.

The artwork is excellent. He uses a muted color palette and black backgrounds to strong effect. I liked the choice to illustrate his kids as unicorns, though I thought his oldest daughter looked older than I would have guessed.


Read Mean Girls Club: Pink Dawn

Read Mean Girls Club: Pink Dawn by Ryan Heshka

The Mean Girls Club have been laying waste to the town for years, and Mayor Schlomo is hell-bent on their destruction. He has other plans for the town’s young women… brainwashing and sexual servitude. And so the Mayor blackmails a young mechanic by the name of Roxy to infiltrate the Clubhouse – but Roxy’s feisty attitude lands her an initiation into the Club instead! Torn between her obligations to her dying grandfather, the Mayor’s dirty threats, and her unexpected friendships with the Mean Girls, will Roxy help the Girls to bring down the Mayor’s cult once and for all?

Love love love the two-color artwork. The story is perfect as what it is: a homage / reimagining of femme fatales and 1950s B-movies and comic book tropes. It’s wildly over the top — intentionally — and composed of a mashup of caricatures and stereotypes, but still entertaining. I think paring back the number of women in the Mean Girls Club could have given them each a little more in the way of distinct personalities and relationships — maybe four instead of six? — because each character got little pagetime.

Comics History

Read Days of Sand

Read Days of Sand by Aimée de Jongh

United States, 1937. In the middle of the Great Depression, 22-year-old photographer John Clark is brought in by the Farm Security Administration to document the calamitous conditions of the Dust Bowl in the central and southern states, in order to bring the farmers’ plight to the public eye. When he starts working through his shooting script, however, he finds his subjects to be unreceptive. What good are a couple of photos against relentless and deadly dust storms? The more he shoots, the more John discovers the awful extent of their struggles, coming to question his own role and responsibilities in this tragedy sweeping through the center of the country.

Absolutely stunning artwork, thoroughly researched. I wish the story had been a little richer to go with it — I would have liked a little more time spent with Betty and Cliff, more interactions, to build such a bond. The focus of the story — the ethics and value of documentary photography — felt a bit shallow. I’d have been more interested in further exploring the photographer’s relationship with his family and how he feels seeing these families. It’s a challenge to convey historical details without falling to stereotype or inserting modern interpretations based on hindsight, and I thought the interactions with the agency suffered there, though I understand the need for efficiency in storytelling.

Activism Comics

oh no

Liked webcomic name – disrupt by alex norris (Tumblr)

this call for change is too disruptive. you can protest as long as it doesn't disrupt anything and I don't have to think about it.

See also:

Distortion and distraction

Protest as public nuisance

Comics Mental Health

Read The Sad Ghost Club

Read The Sad Ghost Club

Ever felt anxious or alone? Like you don’t belong anywhere? Like you’re almost… invisible? Find your kindred spirits at The Sad Ghost Club.

This is the story of one of those days – a day so bad you can barely get out of bed, when it’s a struggle to leave the house, and when you do, you wish you hadn’t. But even the worst of days can surprise you. When one sad ghost, lost and alone at a crowded party, spies another sad ghost across the room, they decide to leave together. What happens next changes everything. Because that night they start the The Sad Ghost Club – a secret society for the anxious and alone, a club for people who think they don’t belong.

I liked the art; the story was too YA for my preference. Relatable in parts, but too on the nose and very slow paced.

Comics Memoir

Read What It Is

Read What It Is by Lynda Barry

How do objects summon memories? What do real images feel like? For decades, these types of questions have permeated the pages of Lynda Barry’s compositions, with words attracting pictures and conjuring places through a pen that first and foremost keeps on moving. What It Is demonstrates a tried-and-true creative method that is playful, powerful, and accessible to anyone with an inquisitive wish to write or to remember. Composed of completely new material, each page of Barry’s first Drawn & Quarterly book is a full-color collage that is not only a gentle guide to this process but an invigorating example of exactly what it is: “The ordinary is extraordinary.”

I liked the memoir parts as well as the mini essay about “the two questions”. The collage pages were a little too philosophical stoner for me. The art style seemed older than it really is, and the vintage ephemera probably contributed. I’m not big into writing prompts, and don’t have writer’s block so they weren’t relevant to me, but I imagine would be quite useful if you were writing a memoir or creative nonfiction.


Read In.

Read In. by Will McPhail

Nick, a young illustrator, can’t shake the feeling that there is some hidden realm of human interaction beyond his reach. He haunts lookalike fussy, silly, coffee shops, listens to old Joni Mitchell albums too loudly, and stares at his navel in the hope that he will find it in there. But it isn’t until he learns to speak from the heart that he begins to find authentic human connections and is let in—to the worlds of the people he meets. Nick’s journey occurs alongside the beginnings of a relationship with Wren, a wry, spirited oncologist at a nearby hospital, whose work and life becomes painfully tangled with Nick’s.

Illustrated in both color and black-and-white in McPhail’s instantly recognizable style, In elevates the graphic novel genre; it captures his trademark humor and compassion with a semi-autobiographical tale that is equal parts hilarious and heart-wrenching—uncannily appropriate for our isolated times.

Too literary for me — I didn’t really get several of the colored passages representing when Nick makes a real emotional connection. Some of them felt like dream (nightmare) sequences, others were clearly meant to convey actual continuing conversation. Especially the ending, I wasn’t clear on and would have appreciated another explanatory sequence because the way I’m interpreting it doesn’t really make sense.

He seemed to think his only challenge was playacting his life when to me his emotional detachment and ennui reads as depression.

The artwork is great. The expressions are eloquent and the frequent bug-eyes Nick makes are entertaining. The black and white outline artwork used for most of the work contrasts effectively with the color segments — I just would have appreciated slightly less metaphorical for some of them.

Comics Fantasy

Read The Girl from the Sea

Read The Girl from the Sea by Molly Knox Ostertag

Fifteen-year-old Morgan has a secret: She can’t wait to escape the perfect little island where she lives. She’s desperate to finish high school and escape her sad divorced mom, her volatile little brother, and worst of all, her great group of friends…who don’t understand Morgan at all. Because really, Morgan’s biggest secret is that she has a lot of secrets, including the one about wanting to kiss another girl.Then one night, Morgan is saved from drowning by a mysterious girl named Keltie. The two become friends and suddenly life on the island doesn’t seem so stifling anymore. But Keltie has some secrets of her own. And as the girls start to fall in love, everything they’re each trying to hide will find its way to the surface…whether Morgan is ready or not.

Cute! I like the contrast in character design between Keltie and Morgan. Using group chats/ text conversations worked well. I liked the revelation of Kellie’s secret and how it resolved. The way her mom handled finding out she was queer was funny and sweet.

Comics History

Read A Bride’s Story 13

Read A Bride’s Story 13

Acclaimed creator Kaoru Mori’s tale of life on the nineteenth century Silk Road continues. Mr. Smith keeps on his journey retracing his steps, stopping next at a seaside village where he is greeted by a pair of enthusiastic young brides! Laila and Leily are eager to prove themselves as capable hostesses, but failing in the attempt could have serious social consequences. As the twins scramble in the kitchen, the discussion around the table turns to recent rumors of danger in the region. Mr. Smith now faces a difficult decision—turn back, or risk pressing on to his final stop?

Crafted in painstaking detail, Ms. Mori’s pen breathes life into the scenery and architecture of the period in this heart-warming, slice-of-life tale that is at once wholly exotic, yet familiar and accessible through the everyday lives of the characters she has created.

This was an enjoyable volume. I love Talas and was happy she got some feature moments in this volume. The twins are still mildly annoying but a little endearing in their earnest enthusiasm. I liked a bit more attention given to Ali and the bodyguard Mr. Nikolovski, who reveals a soft spot for kids.

Been a while since I read the previous volume: Read A Bride’s Story 12


5000 comics for Questionable Content!

Liked Questionable Content by Jeph Jacques (

Wow. 5000 comics. That is a much larger amount of comics than I ever expected to make.

I started reading this webcomic in 2004, when I used to read tons of webcomics, and nineteen years later this is the only one I’m still reading from those days. Cheers to Jeph Jacques for the milestone!