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This cartoon is another collaboration between me and the wonderful Becky Hawkins. As well as political cartoons, Becky and I collaborate on the webcomic SuperButch – hey, did I tell you folks SuperButch won a Prism Award? – and of course please check out Becky’s solo work.
My favorite parts of this cartoon – the extreme perspective in panel 2, the red panel, and the spiral lettering – were all Becky’s ideas.
That’s the best part of collaboration, for me – seeing the ideas that Becky comes up with that I hadn’t even considered when I wrote the script. Becky and I work well together because we think about comics similarly in many ways – but its our dissimilarities I enjoy the most.
This cartoon is about what’s (sometimes derisively) termed “microaggressions.” Quoting Wikipedia: “brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioural, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative prejudicial slights and insults toward any group, particularly culturally marginalized groups. ”
In some ways, microaggressions are actually more stressful to experience than flat-out aggression. For example, if someone yells “hey fatso!” at me out of a passing car, that’s easy for me to categorize and deal with. I give the car the finger, and later on I sneer about it to my friends, who I can be sure will take my side. Microaggressions, on the other hand, are mentally stressful. Should I say something? Will I seem oversensitive if I complain? Will anyone take my side?
That stress – and the time and mental energy microaggressions can cause us to lose – is what this cartoon’s about. For all of my readers who have experienced and been bothered by microaggressions, I hope this cartoon makes you feel a bit seen.
TRANSCRIPT OF CARTOON
This cartoon has five panels.
We can see five people around a table in a business conference room (although there are probably more people around the table, we’re only seeing part of the table). All the people are wearing business clothes, and there’s a whiteboard at one end of the room, showing a growth chart. There’s a glass of water in front of each person.
At the end of the table, a gray-haired man is standing, addressing the room, grinning as he speaks. Everyone else – all men – is laughing uproariously (there’s a “ha ha ha ha” sound effect). Except for one woman, in the foreground, who is not laughing and looks subtly alarmed. She’s wearing glasses and a pink business blazer.
GRAY HAIR DUDE: They scampered like frightened little girls!
EVERYONE: Ha ha ha ha
GLASSES WOMAN (thought): Oh God that was so sexist what should I do?
The same scene, except now shown in more dramatic perspective, with the woman with glasses in the extreme foreground looking at her colleagues.
GLASSES WOMAN (thought): I could say something but I need my colleagues to like me.
This panel shows the woman’s nervous face, looking straight out at the reader, floating in an abstract face. A spiral of words – her thoughts – are superimposed over her face, going around and around her.
GLASSES WOMAN (thought in a spiral pattern): It was just a joke! I don’t want to see shrill and humorless but this wasn’t the first “joke” … If I speak out would anyone take my side? But it’s not just me, it’s all the women in the office! But I don’t wanna be the office buzzkill. But if I don’t say anything then…
A narrow panel, all in red, shows a very tight close-up of her determined face.
GLASSES WOMAN (thought): I’m gonna say something!
The room is dark. There’s no one in the room but Glasses Woman, who looks surprised, and a woman in a janitor’s uniform who’s mopping the floor.
GLASSES WOMAN: Hey, where’d everyone go?
CUSTODIAN: They went home an hour ago.