"Wayward Sisters" Graphic Novel Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by TO Comix Press
Edited by Allison O'Toole
2018, 224 Pages
Monsters come in all shapes and sizes. Regardless of who you are, there is a monster for you, something you can identify with in some way. This is the basis of Wayward Sisters, an anthology by women and non-binary creators focused on supernatural and mythical creatures. Although these elements are usually frightening, here they're used for a refreshing message of acceptance.
The sheer variety of stories in Wayward Sisters is impressive. There is something for every monster fan. Ghosts, zombies, werewolves, mermaids, and orcs are just some of the creatures on display. There are also a bunch that I don't even have names for. Each tale is unique with its own style too.
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There are some stories that don’t quite work, but the great ones more than outweighed them. That's usually the case with anthologies anyway. The one I most identify with is “Bad Hair Day” by writer Cassandra Khaw and artist C. Ann Gordon. It follows website designer Soo Ying, who keeps to herself and doesn't socialize much. She's plagued by a horrifying mouth that lives in her hair, constantly putting her down with insults and telling her she's not good enough. This gives physical form to low self-esteem in such a powerful way. Throughout the story, Soo tries to fight back and practically collapses. It culminates in a brilliantly framed shot of her speaking to a friend and colleague through the door of her apartment, showing the brightness and happiness that awaits her on the other side.
Most of the stories have some great twists to them, re-framing everything you've seen up until that point. You might think it's going one way and then the creators pull the rug out from under you. Instead of scaring the crap out of you, there's a feeling of contentment as the threads come together to reveal the full picture. There's a definite tone of positivity.
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While most of the tales lean towards good nature, there are a couple that are rather unsettling. The one that immediately comes to mind is “White, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant” by writer BC Holmes, artist Dee Williams, and colorist Meaghan Carter. If you want to see a good twist, look no further. This starts out as a Craig's List ad for a couple looking for a man to help them conceive and quickly takes a dark turn. There's a disturbing quality to the story from the beginning and it only gets stranger and creepier as it goes on. This is a chilling read and well worth the price of admission.
Wayward Sisters is perhaps the most inclusive anthology comic I've seen. Sure, there are some terrifying monsters out there, but they're not all going to eat you alive. They're different and that's OK. Everyone should learn how to embrace their own weirdness.