Courtesy Grab Back Comics

Comics Review

These Comics Grab Back

A website about consent and sexual assault arrives on bookshelves.

The Seattle-area cartoonist behind Grab Back Comics, an industrious woman using the pseudonym Erma Blood, says that the website was born in those early, helpless days just after the 2016 presidential election. Blood took her wife on a vacation to celebrate their first wedding anniversary “and it was very sweet,” she says. “But my experience of the coverage of sexual assaults and harassment during the election had really taken a toll.”

That a man who openly bragged about committing sexual assault was now the president of the United States was too much for her. “It felt like it really shut me down,” Blood explains. Try as she might to enjoy her bride and her vacation, “I just didn’t feel like I was engaging in the way that I wanted to.”

During the trip, Blood dreamed of the website that would become Grab Back Comics—a place where cartoonists could share stories and resources on the topic of sexual assault. Once she got back, she set about building her dream on a WordPress site. Blood, a research scientist, started to link to existing comics about consent, assault, and recovery. Not so many years ago, Blood says, those comics tended to be educational, and they focused “very heavily on women, and particularly on middle-class white women.” But recently she’s been pleased to discover that “conversations around all of these topics of consent and sexual assault and child abuse have expanded to include all genders.”

Not long after the site launched, Northwestern cartoonists started to ask Blood if they could contribute their strips to the project. In the months since, Grab Back Comics has become an impressive storehouse of comics on a subject that not 50 years ago would have been too taboo to discuss in public. And Blood just published a print anthology collecting some of the site’s best work. In hand, Grab Back Comics: Acts of Love and Resistance is a beautifully designed book.

Read the rest of this review in Seattle Weekly’s print edition or online here at Seattle Review of Books. Paul Constant is co-founder of The Seattle Review of Books. Read books coverage at seattlereviewofbooks.com.

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