I heard of RESIST!, the (somewhat unofficial) newspaper of the Women’s March on Washington online. It was from one of the many posts about the then impending march and stood out amongst the ready to rumble excitement as women and their allies were readying their shoes to walk all over President Trump’s xenophobia. To be exact, it was social media that alerted me of RESIST!, a special issue of the comic anthology Smoke Signal, but its one-time print of 58,000 copies would be available through paper-only distribution.
I was excited to get a copy from the Harvard Book Store in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Once I got home to sit with it, atop of my plaid blanketed bed, and hours after the Women’s March, the first few pages made it clear that this was the zeitgeist of the march encapsulated through illustration. I’ve always stated, under butthurt circumstances, that the ability to draw was a skill I could never manipulate. I’m aware that there are classes to teach you. But something about drawing, slightly more than acting (minus Denzel, Viola, and Meryl), and possibly rivaling singing, that exerts itself as a purely inbred talent.
To take a pen or pencil and just draw? And for someone like me who can’t and through the works of others, am able to decode exactly what these drawings are supposed to be, whether an owl or a terrifically dressed, disenfranchised teen…What magic I do not possess in bringing that to life through pen and a surface. I am forever jealous.
What is awesome (and comforting) about RESIST! is that in exhibiting the chosen, final selections from a motley of 1,000 submissions, the illustrations scope the spectrum. They are black and white, white and gray, or colored in. Sparse in detail, or loaded with touches. Betwixt “professional” illustrators that regularly fire away for The New Yorker and 1870 are amateur cartoonists as young as thirteen. From the nation’s capital to Germany and Mexico. There are ten frames, sometimes one for a story, while outlines are clean or scraggly in another, and words are justifiably biting or tender in tone.
From “The Editors”, their one-page note was full of gratitude for the artists that showed bravery and grit in their work: “As editors, we sought only to create a distillation of the powerful collective voice that came flooding in through our website. In sorting the submissions, there was an immediate sense of a woman’s voice as distinct from a man’s voice, and we chose to include both. In the images of women, we saw women: women’s bodies, their ovaries and uteruses, the expression of their emotions, women talking to each other, women talking to other mothers and daughters and grandmothers, crowds of women linking arms.”
Likely thanks to social media, feminism in the last year has mobilized as a truer stance for women across races, cultures and sexual identification to bond together. Antecedently, women of color, particularly Black women, voiced concern and anger at how White women eagerly bear-hugged the title “feminist” but rarely acknowledged the often higher levels of danger and prejudice ensued upon Black, Latinx, and Asian/Indian women. This type of behavior pushed the birth of womanism back in the 1970s and the eventual study of misogynoir before the in vogue trend of pro-Black girl Instagram accounts and blogs. At the Women’s March, it was a movement within a movement that White women were being called out (or “dragged”) as 53% reportedly voted Trump. Some of that agitation was espoused by young White American women themselves, wanting to be unfettered from embarrassingly ignorant rhetoric.
In RESIST! no woman is left behind and the former house of rose-colored, one-sided feminism is shattered through these amazingly thoughtful illustrations and cartoons. Reading RESIST! felt like a new friend I had just met days ago, yet talks as if we’ve known each other our whole lives. I imagine that to think our friendship might’ve begun perhaps over a shared commiseration of the lack of girl groups in music (save for Fifth Harmony and Little Mix but remember The Donnas?)
The cartoons presented are the personal afflictions and revelations endured after Trump captured the election. The pain and disbelief aim right for the heart if you bemoaned those same results. The auspices of this newspaper are, however, extremely hopeful and truthful in a good “now you know better” spirit. RESIST! is such a unique experience. It is an emotional, worthwhile adventure to witness all the different ways artists expressed likewise feelings.
“To create is to resist, to resist is to create.” – Stephane Hessel
One comic, drawn in muted gold and an interesting hue of taupe was called “Americanist” by Liz Anna Kozik. As an artist in Wisconsin, she was one of the many states that were ultimately steered red during the election, though through her comic, she alluded to not having voted for Trump. She shared an emotional rebuttal, asking through her protagonist that while it is easy to group all the red states as “Dumbfuckistan“, what about the voters that were not swayed by bigotry? Early in RESIST!, “Americanist” was sui generis for green lighting how the other, other side feels. A blue voter that was rebranded as red.
Another, “#HEXtrump”, was a one frame drawing of a female fetus with a pink hair bow tie, holding a cleaning spray in one tiny hand, and a spoon next to a mixing bowl in the other, as lipstick, a knife, and bleach targeted her. In her intersectional feminist cartoon, Dame Darcy, of Savannah, GA by way of New York, challenged: “If all we’re supposed to be is house-cleaning, baby-making Barbies, then let’s just go full throttle and institute a law requiring all female fetuses must get a nose job, a lobotomy, and skin whitening before they are born so we can be spared having to deal with this crap our entire lives. Love, Dame Darcy.”
“New Monsters, New Rules” was a powerful comic that traced the cartoonist’s, Joan Reilly, heartbreak of recognizing she may have known people that voted for Trump, how devastating it was that in short hours Hillary Clinton‘s chance went from full of light to fade to black, and that right now, it is not at all easier to stand against a malignant President, but imperative to not back down. Reilly’s comic reminded me of the first shown on page 2 called “Women’s Voices” by Amy Camber. As a survivor of sexual assault, she recalled the first time she heard the audio of Trump saying “grab ’em by the pussy.“
“Beyond The Safety Pin” was an uproarious gift by Dana Jeri Maier of Washington, D.C. The artist gave innermost thoughts to four common tools we as humans don’t even give a second consideration to because they are inanimate such as the paper clip and bobby pin. The introspects of Kitty Cat Barrette (“Smiling on the outside, bursting into tears on the inside”) and Thumbtack and duct tape (“Juuuust might stab someone if I read another Medium post saying Hillary’s policies weren’t ‘easily digestible enough'”) had me in genuine Laugh Out Loud mode for five minutes.
I read on and more colorful recollections that were humorous, somber, and acerbic continued. “Miriam” by Glynnis Fawkes was in tribute to her fellow archaeological friend in Homs, Syria. “Melt” took on the issue of sexual harassment online, by Maggie Brennan of Brooklyn, NY. Danica Novgorodoff, also of Brooklyn, spoke on nature and reflected in a Standing Rock inspired strip titled “Used.”
The most arresting one frame cartoons included “ReSISTERS” with women of various skin shades and hairstyles by Kate Moon of Australia. By Julia Breckenreid of Toronto, Canada, a naked woman had her wrists chained to a board like they did when they were going to behead someone during Trump’s favorite era, the Medieval times, and there was an open space cut out for a seemingly pregnant belly. “I Am the Sovereign of My Body” is a gorgeous drawing that looked as if it was floating like quicksilver, by Ana Juan of Madrid, Spain. And “Stiletto Revolution in a Pantsuit Nation” by Jessie Herzeld, advocated for the inclusion that female sex workers are not left out of the Women’s March discussion. They are so many great cartoons in RESIST! I want to list them all.
What I gained from reading RESIST! is that the hurt and distrust that rose like heat in one’s body after an intense workout was not limited to one group of people, women, or a fragment of one’s bloated imagination after viewing one last news update before they gave into a belated bedtime on the morning of November 9, 2016. There were real emotions felt so passionately because of how one man chose to ride his entire presidential campaign on a torrent of falsehoods, fear, and hate. It is heartily reassuring that post-Women’s March and now #NoBanNoWall that Americans opposing President Trump are serious in combating his malicious regimes every which way. There is no denying that for many of us, and the many that have lived to tell the day after 9/11 and the years of the Great Recession, that the era of President Trump is a level of fascism we haven’t seen in America so gallantly before. Movements and revolutions are longer regulated to the history books of our childhood. History is repeating itself as we live and breathe in 2017.