On the day six members of the US Supreme Court drew the curtain over a woman’s right to choose by overruling the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, FairSquare Comics announced the publication of a new graphic novel, no kidding, that offers a humorous view of two women’s contrasting takes on pregnancy. The coincidental timing of the announcement highlights exactly how much freedom and autonomy the Court majority has taken away from American women, and how the case is likely to affect the lives and relationships of millions of people around the country.
no kidding is a graphic novel by two French creators, writer Véronique (Véro) Cazot and artist Madeleine Martin, who is better known in the US under the name Marguerite Sauvage. Over the course of short vignettes and longer storylines, it tells the story of two young women, Jean and Lucy, as they navigate the decision to have, or not have, children in the context of stable relationships and their active social lives.
The creators don’t flinch from the most difficult conversations surrounding the topic, and the scenarios feel real to anyone who has ever given the subject of having children any serious thought. Each of the women struggles with conflicting personal feelings, anxieties, social expectations, the judgment of family members, and the practical consequences that having children would have on their lives.
Cazot, in her introduction, says the story came from her own realization that she was not interested in having children, and why the freedom to choose childlessness is so important.
For several years, I felt that people, close to me as well as strangers, were continually harassing and attacking me. I got the impression that society as a whole did not understand my choice. They judged it, criticized it, even denied any possibility that this choice existed.
Through this slight distinction that made me stand out, I realized how powerful and ingrained the precept to fit in with the norm was in our society. I also discovered that I was far from being the only one who could not see themselves in this almost imposed model of family life and that many of us felt excluded and judged. I wasn’t that unusual in fact. Just enough to be free. It gave me strength and above all legitimacy. And it gave me, as an author, the desire and almost the need to bring the subject out of the closet, to break the taboo and give a forum and a dialogue to people like me; if possible with humor and lightness to make the pill easier to swallow.
Throughout the work, the women struggle specifically with decisions around abortion. Cazot and Martin’s light storytelling touch bring these conversations out of the realm of theocratic absolutes and judicial ideologies that formed the basis of the Supreme Court’s opinion scrapping the 50-year old freedom enjoyed by American women (and their partners), and into messy lives and human emotions of real people. Reading these pages in the shadow of today’s decision brings home the consequences of the changes in the law better than a stack of closely-argued op-eds.
The first volume of no kidding was published in France in 2011. Now the story, with a new material from Cazot and Martin, is being published in the US by a relatively new company, FairSquare Comics, an imprint with a mission to promote and give more exposure to immigrants, minorities and other under-represented creators of the world.
The solicitation for the book, which will be published in September, was slated to go live automatically this morning. The timing is pregnant with irony.