The comic book medium is far more powerful than anyone gives it credit for. Take It as a Compliment is a series of personal stories pulled from interviews dealing with the subject matter of abuse: sexual, psychical, mental and verbal. They’re stories from both women and men, but as many of you might suspect, mostly women.
To put it plainly, it is a voice for the voiceless and one of the most important works in comics this year. There are twenty stories in total and while they share a connecting factor of abuse, each story is different and worth reading on its own.
The stories are incredibly sad. It’s sad to see that so many people have stories like the ones captured in Take It as a Compliment. It’s a scary thought to think that more than likely there’s at least one or more people in your own life that have been affected by some kind of abuse and if we’re honest with ourselves, we’ve all experienced a degree of abuse. That’s the incredible thing about this book. It’s not comparing stories and saying “this person has it worse”, but rather showing that all kinds of abuse are destructive and affect people no matter what.
The artwork for Take It as a Compliment is incredible. Maria Stoian changes her style and presentation to fit the story and it’s powerful. There’s never an odd fit and she does an incredible job of making the story come to life and very personable. One story in particular stayed with me and it was about a woman being psychically abused by her boyfriend. This story had the least amount of images which is why the imagery was so powerful. Instead of showing the abuse Stoain focused on showing how the person felt after the abuse; i.e. loading the dishwasher and a giant red hand covering the person’s face. It showed that even after the hit this woman was still feeling it. It was still there almost haunting her. It was powerful and drove home the abuse in a way that Stoain’s other illustrations wouldn’t have been able to with this story.
You’re probably not going to feel good after reading Take It as a Compliment. It’s a quick read for the most part, but you’ll find yourself stopping while reading because of the weight the stories carry. It’s hard to believe in humanity when your read stories about abuse, particularly the ones about sexual and physical abuse. I have a newborn and books like this remind me as a parent how important communication is. To communicate to him that he should never be abused or abuse others and that he has a voice. I feel like the people whose stories were brought to life in this book now have a voice when maybe they didn’t before.
I can’t say it enough just how powerful this comic is. Would it work in another medium? Probably, but there’s just something about it as a comic book that really gets the story out there in an impactful way. This may not be your typical comic book purchase, but it’s definitely one that everyone, even non-comic readers, should check out.
Take It as a Compliment Creator: Maria Stoian Publisher: Singing Dragon Price: $24.95 Release Date: 11/21/15 Format: Hardcover; Print