comic books

The Strangest Phrase

“If you don’t want to include a graphic illustration of rape in a graphic novel about rape, that’s understandable. But I’d be interested to hear victims of sexual assault weigh in on what they believe a graphic representation of rape might look like, and I suspect that it wouldn’t be the jaunty exploding star that in 100% of the world’s comic strips denotes exaggeration for the purpose of humor.”

Mary Adkins

Three words: Rape education comics.

‘Nuff said?

Alright, then. Your turn.

Last week the Dallas Observer reported that Dallas County will print a series of graphic novels to teach kids in juvenile detention about rape. The Project on Addressing Prison Rape at American University, Washington College of Law is behind the comics, which are available in full on the project’s site.

Rape Ed TriptychA warning: they’re weird. Not just because you’re reading material designed to educate kids about rape, but because of the way in which the choice of form—a comic strip—seems to inherently turn what is a very serious thing into a lighthearted romp. This isn’t parody for the sake of stressing the weightiness of the issue; it’s not about placing a horrific phenomenon in a playful genre in order to highlight its grimness via juxtaposition. This is exactly what it purports to be: a set of traditional comic books (or graphic novels—same thing) with sexual assault plots. The panels where rape happens read: BAM!

If that isn’t already unsettling, here’s the other thing. The series conveys problematic messages like: you should be concerned whether being raped by someone of the same sex makes you gay; you should expect your superiors not to believe you when you report an assault; and even, ironically, you should expect to be raped if you wind up in juvenile detention.

So, yeah. Right. Your turn.

I have no idea what goes here; the (ahem!) “rape ed comics” have about them a spectral weight that makes it difficult to muster the courage to read through them.

So … no. There is no review or critique to go here, though Adkins’ consideration is worth a read. And, yes, ’tis true, “rape ed comics” is perhaps the strangest phrase I have heard in … er, yeah. The notion is transcendent.