PIFSLoves is an ongoing series of media recommendations from the PIFS team showcasing the many feminist perspectives in our lives.

Image: Top Left to Bottom Right “Woman World – By Aminder Dhaliwal”, “Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World – By Pénélope Bagieu”, “Lucky Penny – Ananth Hirsh/ Yuko Ota”, “The Adventures of Superhero Girl – By Faith Erin Hicks”, “Strong Female Protagonist – By Brennan Lee Mulligan/ Molly Ostertag”, “The Trouble with Women – By Jacky Fleming.

Woman World – By Aminder Dhaliwal

Woman World started as a small webcomic series that imagines a semi post-apocalyptic world where the entire population of men has been wiped off the planet. The series follows a small society of women navigating this new world. But unlike previous takes on this genre, (ie “Children of Men: or “Y: The Last Man”) Dhaliwal takes a much more slice of life approach that brings forth a certain whimsy to what it means to exist when words/phrases such as ”manpower”  or ”Man-up” become irrelevant when the patriarchy vanishes. Personally, despite the bleak premise, I have foundDhaliwal’s take on the apocalypse to be just… whimsically hilarious.

Notes: Woman World is available for free as a Webcomic here www.webtoons.com, or support the artist and get the collected series at your local bookstore!

Strong Female Protagonist – By Brennan Lee Mulligan and Molly Ostertag

Strong Female Protagonist is an ongoing webcomic that dissects the mythos and repercussions  of being a superhero in our modern world. The story follows Alison Green, a superhero of epic physical strength (think Superman level powers). An unexpected encounter leads Alison towards an existential crisis that ultimately leads her to decide to retire her superhero antics. Instead, she pursues college to gain a better understanding of what it means to tackle social justice problems through non-violent means.  Throughout her adventures, she’s often forced to deal with philosophical and ethical dilemmas inherent in the social realities of the world. When issues like poverty, illnesses or systemic oppressions can’t be solved by punching, how do we work towards dismantling and recreating the structures that cause people suffering on such a humanistic level?

With the advent popularity of media like the Marvel Cinematic Universe, we are arguably in the golden age of superhero cinematic popularity. Yet SFP is by far one of my favourites takes on the ethics and complexities of social change. I find that the book really hits its stride by around the third issue, wherein the book really analyse the morality and necessity of Superheroes, both in its societal fascination, and in its benefits versus detriments. I have really enjoyed how SFP has really flipped the idea of what it means to be a hero on its head, by well, not being a superhero.

Notes: SFP is available for free as a webcomic here www.strongfemaleprotagonist.com or support the artists! The first two volumes has been collected into two books and should be available at your local bookstore.

The Adventures of Superhero Girl – By Faith Erin Hicks

If “Strong Female Protagonist” is a little too heavy for your taste, veteran comics writer Faith Erin Hicks takes a much more lighthearted and humorous approach to the superhero genre. Hicks’ character deals with much more mundane tribulations of our world. Such as: what do you do when your superhero gig doesn’t help you with the measly $7.52 balance in your bank account? Or what happens if you put your cape in the wash, and it shrinks in the dryer? Hicks artwork and storytelling strikes the perfect balance of charm and cuteness. Be sure to also check out Faith Erin Hicks’ other works, like her ongoing “The Nameless City” series, or her other entries in famous franchises, like “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, or “Avatar: The Last Airbender”, or my favorite of hers, “Friends with Boys”.

Notes: “The Adventures of Superhero Girl” is available for free as a webcomic here www.adventuresofsuperherogirl.com  or support the artist! “The Adventures of Superhero Girl” has been beautifully collected in a full colour hardcover version and should be available at your local bookstore.

Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World – By Pénélope Bagieu

“Brazen” is a non-fiction collection of mini biographies of women who throughout history have defied social norms. The artwork is fantastic, and each entry is coloured in a simplistic screen print style that evokes a sense of history importance and nostalgia. Bagieu doesn’t shy away from historical figures who have a chip or two on their shoulders. The book does sometimes go into the abuse that some of the women have endured to achieve what they had to in their respective lives, This is definitely one of those books that don’t try to glorify or present a shiny exterior to the history of these women, and for me, it made them every bit as admirable and humanistically complex. This beautiful graphic novel would be a great addition to any feminists’ bookshelf!

Notes: “Brazen” is available in paperback or hardcover form at your local bookstore

****Trigger Warning: This book does sometimes deal with sexual trauma or violence

The Trouble with Women – Jacky Fleming

“The Trouble with Women” is a hilariously satirical funnies about women. If “Brazen” was an attempt to showcase women who were erased from history, then “The Trouble with Women” is it’s attempt to explain why. This book is a nice short read, and despite Fleming’s use of humour to highlight the ridiculousness of the many patriarchal struggles women have had to encounter throughout history… You will likely be wanting to bang your head against the wall after this read out of sheer frustration. That said, this book is a hoot, and a fantastic read.,

Afterall, you can trust me. I am a MAN, who Charles Darwin (highlighted in this book) believes has a higher intellect than women as the result of our “clearly” larger noggins. HAnd he was a “genius” -, so everything that he said was true, right?

Notes: The Trouble with Women is available in hardcover form at your local bookstore.

Lucky Penny – By Ananth Hirsh and Yuko Ota

“Lucky Penny” is a cute little graphic novel that takes on the classic girl meets boy trope. As a sucker for a cute romance, I was smitten with Penny Brighton, Hirsh and Ota’s titular character. “Lucky Penny” subverts a lot of the many romantic tropes, like the “manic pixie dream girl” or the classic “damsel in distress”. Ota and Hirsh have managed to bring a witty and cute story reminiscent of Bryan O’Malley’s “Scott Pilgrim” series, and yet inject a new life to the story of relatable human disasters. And oh, did I mention that it’s cute?

Notes: Lucky Penny is available for free as a webcomic here www.johnnywander.com or support the artist, as Lucky Penny will also be available at your local bookstore!