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Graphic Reproduction: A Comics Anthology

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This comics anthology delves deeply into the messy and often taboo subject of human reproduction. Featuring work by luminaries such as Carol Tyler, Alison Bechdel, and Joyce Farmer, Graphic Reproduction is an illustrated challenge to dominant cultural narratives about conception, pregnancy, and childbirth. The comics here expose the contradictions, complexities, and conflue This comics anthology delves deeply into the messy and often taboo subject of human reproduction. Featuring work by luminaries such as Carol Tyler, Alison Bechdel, and Joyce Farmer, Graphic Reproduction is an illustrated challenge to dominant cultural narratives about conception, pregnancy, and childbirth. The comics here expose the contradictions, complexities, and confluences around diverse individual experiences of the entire reproductive process, from trying to conceive to child loss and childbirth. Jenell Johnson's introduction situates comics about reproduction within the growing field of graphic medicine and reveals how they provide a discursive forum in which concepts can be explored and presented as uncertainties rather than as part of a prescribed or expected narrative. Through comics such as Lyn Chevley's groundbreaking "Abortion Eve," Bethany Doane's "Pushing Back: A Home Birth Story," Leah Hayes's "Not Funny Ha-Ha," and "Losing Thomas & Ella: A Father's Story," by Marcus B. Weaver-Hightower, the collection explores a myriad of reproductive experiences and perspectives. The result is a provocative, multifaceted portrait of one of the most basic and complicated of all human experiences, one that can be hilarious and heartbreaking. Featuring work by well-known comics artists as well as exciting new voices, this incisive collection is an important and timely resource for understanding how reproduction intersects with sociocultural issues. The afterword and a section of discussion exercises and questions make it a perfect teaching tool.


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This comics anthology delves deeply into the messy and often taboo subject of human reproduction. Featuring work by luminaries such as Carol Tyler, Alison Bechdel, and Joyce Farmer, Graphic Reproduction is an illustrated challenge to dominant cultural narratives about conception, pregnancy, and childbirth. The comics here expose the contradictions, complexities, and conflue This comics anthology delves deeply into the messy and often taboo subject of human reproduction. Featuring work by luminaries such as Carol Tyler, Alison Bechdel, and Joyce Farmer, Graphic Reproduction is an illustrated challenge to dominant cultural narratives about conception, pregnancy, and childbirth. The comics here expose the contradictions, complexities, and confluences around diverse individual experiences of the entire reproductive process, from trying to conceive to child loss and childbirth. Jenell Johnson's introduction situates comics about reproduction within the growing field of graphic medicine and reveals how they provide a discursive forum in which concepts can be explored and presented as uncertainties rather than as part of a prescribed or expected narrative. Through comics such as Lyn Chevley's groundbreaking "Abortion Eve," Bethany Doane's "Pushing Back: A Home Birth Story," Leah Hayes's "Not Funny Ha-Ha," and "Losing Thomas & Ella: A Father's Story," by Marcus B. Weaver-Hightower, the collection explores a myriad of reproductive experiences and perspectives. The result is a provocative, multifaceted portrait of one of the most basic and complicated of all human experiences, one that can be hilarious and heartbreaking. Featuring work by well-known comics artists as well as exciting new voices, this incisive collection is an important and timely resource for understanding how reproduction intersects with sociocultural issues. The afterword and a section of discussion exercises and questions make it a perfect teaching tool.

30 review for Graphic Reproduction: A Comics Anthology

  1. 4 out of 5

    Dave Schaafsma

    Graphic Reproduction is a comics anthology that is part of the great Graphic Medicine series, a book that focuses on women’s varied experiences with a range of topics not always addressed in mainstream childbirth and pregnancy books. Topics include abortion, miscarriage and stillbirth, homophobia, infertility, and postpartum depression, told by a range of authors reaching back to the seventies, including Lyn Chevley's alt comix "Abortion Eve," Leah Hayes's "Not Funny Ha-Ha," and an excerpt from Graphic Reproduction is a comics anthology that is part of the great Graphic Medicine series, a book that focuses on women’s varied experiences with a range of topics not always addressed in mainstream childbirth and pregnancy books. Topics include abortion, miscarriage and stillbirth, homophobia, infertility, and postpartum depression, told by a range of authors reaching back to the seventies, including Lyn Chevley's alt comix "Abortion Eve," Leah Hayes's "Not Funny Ha-Ha," and an excerpt from A. K. Summers’ Pregnant Butch: Nine Months Spent in Drag. The styles are vastly different, but also included are stories by comics greats such as Carol Tyler, Alison Bechdel and Joyce Farmer. The idea is to share stories and visual representations of women’s experience vs. medical perspectives that tend to focus on useful but technical information. There’s also a man’s contribution, “Losing Thomas and Ella: A Father’s Story” by Marcus B. Weaver-Hightower. Edited by Jenell Johnson, her intro situates the history of women’s reproduction comics in the now growing field of graphic medicine. I just recently read Lucy Knisley’s Kid Gloves, the story of the often difficult and at times anguishing story of the birth of her first child, which I actually appreciated more after reading this book as Knisley’s memoir gives you the story of some experiences you may not read about in more mainstream pregnancy and childbirth books. I also listened to Maggie Nelson’s story of her childbirth, The Argonauts, which she configures as a queer angle on the topic. The idea here is to hear the word pregnancy or childbirth and not just think of one narrow image or outcome.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    I respect the hell out of parents, but reading about birth makes me lightheaded. I really appreciated the stories about miscarriage, which are open and frank, and don't sugarcoat feelings of loss and guilt. I wish parents who experienced loss weren't pushed into shame, and this book feels like a great starting point. I respect the hell out of parents, but reading about birth makes me lightheaded. I really appreciated the stories about miscarriage, which are open and frank, and don't sugarcoat feelings of loss and guilt. I wish parents who experienced loss weren't pushed into shame, and this book feels like a great starting point.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Bri

    Not so much a graphic *novel* as a collection of excerpts from other comics. For a mother of young children, some things were hard to take--abortion, stillbirth, and other topics were somewhat distant, such as infertility. But on the whole I did find it interesting and challenging. Not sure if I plan to read any of the authors who contributed to this volume/books from which they were excerpted; Pregnant Butch, maybe.

  4. 4 out of 5

    C

    A comics anthology of stories relating to reproduction, whether that is abortion, infertility, miscarriage, or pregnancy relating to same-sex relationships. The first story was written in the 1970's, and goes over - pretty thoroughly - what the process of abortion is like from the patient's point of view. It does not give a great deal of detail on the physician's side of the encounter. It follows a group of different women who have all come for counseling about abortion, all for different reason A comics anthology of stories relating to reproduction, whether that is abortion, infertility, miscarriage, or pregnancy relating to same-sex relationships. The first story was written in the 1970's, and goes over - pretty thoroughly - what the process of abortion is like from the patient's point of view. It does not give a great deal of detail on the physician's side of the encounter. It follows a group of different women who have all come for counseling about abortion, all for different reasons. They inform and support each other through the process. Pros: There are great points raised about prevention and birth control, and situations we might not think of. It is informative, and it makes it clear what your rights are, and that there are options. Cons: it reads like heavy handed propaganda at some points, it is dated to 1970's, and there are more options out there for women now than there were back then. Another story follows a woman's experience with infertility, the pain and disappointment, the grief of miscarriage. All too often, we expect that if we just persevere, we will succeed, but this is not always the case with infertility, and this is captured well here. Miscarriage is something we don't really talk about or explore in terms of the complicated and confusing grief that follows, the fear instilled in the parents if/when they get pregnant again. I found this informative, and one of my bigger incentives to share about this book, as I know that the grief of miscarriage is underrepresented. Another story follows the loss of premie twins, and a father's experience of grief. Another, home birth with a midwife (and how to behave at the hospital later). Another portrays a butch woman's experience of pregnancy, and another, a lesbian birth party. All are stories that are often out of the general sphere of information, and the forward to the book is excellent in and of itself. There was much in it for me to reflect on and I felt I gathered information from the reading, as well.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Weekend Reader_

    Wow this graphic novel opened my eyes to a number of reproductive conversations. It focused mostly on whether or not to have children but was done as nuanced as possible. The introduction alone was well done. The first panel-story showed it's age and I could have done without it but as Johnson points it was one of the first reproductive comics so it was almost paying homage. I didn't care for it though. There was one comic I read before but I'm not sure if it was shortened for the anthology but Wow this graphic novel opened my eyes to a number of reproductive conversations. It focused mostly on whether or not to have children but was done as nuanced as possible. The introduction alone was well done. The first panel-story showed it's age and I could have done without it but as Johnson points it was one of the first reproductive comics so it was almost paying homage. I didn't care for it though. There was one comic I read before but I'm not sure if it was shortened for the anthology but it felt incomplete in this collection. I don't remember thinking so previously but in this collection something was off. There are no content warnings so I would be cautious bc some of the panels are very graphic (birth and miscarriages). Images are on page so if that's something you aren't able to view then check the titles bc you can know what's ahead. The one thing that I think I would be more mindful of is the language I use around not getting pregnant. After reading some of the panels I realize how harmful that can be for someone who is actively trying. Especially since the grieving process can have good and bad days. Lastly, I didn't realize that home births were so polarizing or giving birth due to healthcare professionals' care can be so traumatizing. All in all a tough read but eye opening read!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jamie

    I love the times we are living in. No longer are we content to allow the white, middle class, able-bodied, heterosexual narrative dominate. Books like Graphic Reproduction are very intentionally broadening the scope for how we look at life experiences, in this case reproduction and child birth. No longer is the Spiritual Midwifery stress-free in the woods birth the focus. In this book we’re talking about abortion, infertility, butch pregnancies, still births, postpartum depression. In this book I love the times we are living in. No longer are we content to allow the white, middle class, able-bodied, heterosexual narrative dominate. Books like Graphic Reproduction are very intentionally broadening the scope for how we look at life experiences, in this case reproduction and child birth. No longer is the Spiritual Midwifery stress-free in the woods birth the focus. In this book we’re talking about abortion, infertility, butch pregnancies, still births, postpartum depression. In this book we are not always happy, perfect new moms; we are sad and lost and not sure what comes next. Follow this with Lucy Knisley’s Kid Gloves.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Tim Butzen-Cahill

    This book is so solid, IMHO. I love how it's positioned as a start to a broader discourse and that it's obviously missing important narratives and voices and challenges the reader to identify and fill those gaps. It's also positioned as a feminist work that challenges the medicalization of reproduction. Because it draws on comics from a variety of time periods and contexts, the types and expressions of feminism vary greatly. At times, I was entirely uncomfortable but that's when I knew this was This book is so solid, IMHO. I love how it's positioned as a start to a broader discourse and that it's obviously missing important narratives and voices and challenges the reader to identify and fill those gaps. It's also positioned as a feminist work that challenges the medicalization of reproduction. Because it draws on comics from a variety of time periods and contexts, the types and expressions of feminism vary greatly. At times, I was entirely uncomfortable but that's when I knew this was an amazing collection. 

  8. 5 out of 5

    Aurora

    By this point I’ve read more than a few graphic medicine memoirs that cover fertility issues, and I felt like those were better at covering the subject than this book (indeed, some of them were even excerpted here…). Also, for an anthology I would’ve expected something more… balanced. It seemed like the editors mainly chose stories where terrible things happened.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Bethany

    I was blown away by the up close and personal nature of this anthology. Definitely in my top 10 of books read this year.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Mitchell

    Good! Although some of it made me sad. It was very honest though. Could definitely see how this would be a good textbook.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Delanie

    This should be required reading for every high school or college sex ed class. I learned more here then from my college health counselor.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Ellison

  13. 5 out of 5

    Kate

  14. 4 out of 5

    Crystal

  15. 4 out of 5

    Dipesh

  16. 5 out of 5

    Sam (RiverMooseReads)

  17. 4 out of 5

    Casey

  18. 4 out of 5

    Robyn Rosencutter

  19. 5 out of 5

    Renee

  20. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca Laycock

  21. 5 out of 5

    Cai Barrows

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kelsey

  23. 5 out of 5

    Emily

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jules Wolfers

  25. 4 out of 5

    Fiona Chen

  26. 5 out of 5

    Quin B.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Farien

  28. 4 out of 5

    Devon

  29. 5 out of 5

    Frances A.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ilyana

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