Okay, so honestly? All cards on the table? I checked out this comic and thought "What.is.this.horror?!" and I wrote what you’ll read below. But when I went back to re-read the first few preview pages of the comic to see if I could find more information about its creator Z.M.Thomas I started to doubt my initial anger. I started wondering if maybe his extreme depiction of "the abortion war" was a way of sending a not-so-subtle (or maybe extremely subtle for folks like me?!) message about the ways in which abortion is publicly discussed in the U.S. – much like a football being violently flung across a field between opposing teams.
So, while I will include my obviously humourless initial reaction to this comic below (you all owe me for being such an open book), I want to actually be clear: I am not at all clear whether this comic is meant as a graphic anti-choice screech-and-holler fest or a challenge to both pro and anti-choice activists that the politics of abortion discussion may require a superhero to change anything. Is the writer/creator making fun of the way abortion providers are depicted by extremist, anti-choice activists (much like mad scientists)? Is this supposed to be a commentary on the current state of reproductive rights dialogue?
What do you think? I’d love to hear. Honestly. So, what follows below is my initial reaction – a reaction which is now tainted with uncertainty that maybe Z.M. Thomas and Trepidation Comics is trying to do something a bit more multi-layered than I thought.
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Oh, I am loathe to write about this. I have debated the relative merits of discussing this comic vs. keeping to myself. In the end, both misery and disgust love company, crave company and I feel that it is best to share the horror. It may be that we use this moment as yet another opportunity to educate on what the abortion procedure is and isn’t. Maybe we discuss the fact that regardless of politics or religion, women will never willingly release control over our own bodies. Maybe we rally together those who treasure comic book art and support our own excellent comic artists. I will leave it to our readers to mull over.
I am talking about a comic book recently released entitled Abe the Aborted Fetus. It was apparently (I am not joking here) first introduced on a children’s menu at a family restaurant back in 2004. A point of which, it seems, the comic company responsible for its creation is proud. Here is the synopsis:
survived an abortion at the hands of Doctor Choice, Abe finds himself
caught in the middle of one of the largest conspiracies ever conceived.
I can’t bring myself to include a preview of the images but you can find them at the link above. Amazingly, the creators use the image of a coat-hanger, an age-old symbol of illegal abortion as a "tool" of a physician who performs abortions.
Now here’s the thing. If you want to produce farcical comics with no roots in reality, go ahead. But it is reprehensible to create comics depicting physicians who perform abortions as monstrous and blood-thirsty, when you know nothing of the sort. It continues to blow my mind that those who know absolutely nothing about doctors who provide abortions can be so blindly and unapologetically vicious in the ways in which they characterize these human beings. Human beings who have children, spouses, parents, and friends. Human beings who provide abortions for women who are already mothers, who will be mothers. Human beings who assist women in times of need and sometimes in the face of tremendous challenge. Human beings who experience their own tragedies and glory. Human beings who, in the worst we can envision, are murdered by the very people who believe as the creators of Abe the Aborted Fetus do.
Of course, the comic is an absurdly false vision of what abortion is like because, well, people like those involved in the creation of material like this also know nothing about abortion. Of course. Yet they somehow become experts on this medical procedure, they become experts on what women feel. They become experts on what the physicians who perform abortions are like. They become experts on why women have abortions (because we don’t know any better). They become experts on what the embryo or fetus looks like, feels like and acts like in utero no matter at what stage at which the majority of women have abortions (prior to 6 weeks gestation, which makes abe-the-aborted fetus a projection of this man’s twisted mind more than anything rooted even remotely in reality). They decide that in the face of their own ideological zeal they are experts on anything and everything.
Surely it is the only way for them to produce such ridiculous images? They must justify their own hubris in order to leverage lies, push false images and encourage blind devotion to an even cloudier ideology.
Clearly this kind of a "comic book" is meant for those who are as extremist as the creators are. But if this should fall into the hands of some who do not have the means by which to critically dissect such images, it is disaster. It seems that it is being lumped in wtih other indy comics and is listed on the Indy Comic Book Week’s blog.
Instead, why not check out these amazing artists of the comic book and graphic novel variety who actually create based on what they know, based on their own lives, their own experiences or craft stories that don’t rely on violence, exploitation, lies and deception. Some of my favorite female artists:
Marjane Sartrapi (more of a graphic novelist than a comic artist but any opportunity to mention her should be seized)