Wayward Sisters – An Anthology of Monstrous Women (Ed. by Allison O’Toole)

Wayward Sisters is a comic anthology edited by Allison O’Toole.
Finished on: 31.3.2018
[I got a review copy of this anthology. You can get it here.]

After the beautiful cover by Alise Gluškova and a nice, short foreword by Faith Erin Hicks, Wayward Sisters gives us a collection of wonderful short comics, created exclusively by female and gender non-conforming artists and featuring almost exclusively female monsters. As usual with anthologies, not every story will hit you hard, but I found that Wayward Sisters was one of the most consistently strong anthologies I’ve ever read. It features stories as different in tone as in art style and there should be something there for everyone. For me, there were several somethings that hit me in various sweet spots.

After the jump, there’s more about each of the stories separately.

Love and Fury, written by Aimee Lim and drawn by Sam Beck

Balancing love and fury is no easy task, not even for Furies who have had a lot of practice.

I liked that the Furies in this case are Asian women and their relationships become very vivid, even though the story is so short. That’s only possible because of the expressive art. The only thing that I would have liked is if the second time the narrative jumps to a different point in time, this would have been more clearly marked – for a second there I was very confused.

Miss Monster, written by Stephanie Cooke and drawn by Cara McGee

Who is going to be crowned Miss Monster of America? It’s a tough competition.

The idea here was fun and I liked the name puns (Ava Pocalypse, Franka Stein, Dee-Dee Form’d), but above all I liked the art that was rather unusual and not your typical comics style, but going in the direction of watercolors.

Low Tide, written by M. Blankier and drawn by Helen Robinson

Miss Clara takes on a post as a governess in a remote location, but circumstances are much different from what she expected.

Low Tide tells a haunting story that I would have loved to read more of – especially with the evocative art that is scarce in colors but definitely not in the atmosphere it creates, perfectly fitting the sad melancholy of the narrative.

Low Tide

Zira and the Little Fire, written and drawn by Katie Shanahan

Zira is an orc on a journey, but she’s been travelling alone for too long. That’s when she stumbles on a new companion.

Zira and the Little Fire tells the cutest story, with a good truth at its core. The art fits the story very well, even though it didn’t speak to me as much as the art of the two stories that came before it.

Tinseltown, written by Allison O’Toole and drawn by Emmanuelle Chateauneuf

Hollywood has a habit of chewing people up and spitting them out. But Sam has managed to hold on for quite a while. And when he meets Isadora who is completely new, she might help him get over Mary.

Tinseltown didn’t work that much for me, although I liked the black-white-red art and I’m generally a fan of werewolves. But the punishment doled out left me with more questions than I would have liked (making somebody else like me isn’t all that much of a punishment, is it?).

Skin Deep, written and drawn by Elodie Chen

Izzy is dead, but not really. She’s also the (heavily made-up) face of a non-profit fighting for a treatment. But it’s not easy.

I liked the story – it was interesting and surprisingly thought-provoking. The art wasn’t so much my cup of tea, at least on an aesthetic level. But it was very expressive and managed to convey emotional states of the characters extremely well.

The Way Home, written by Lorena Torres Loaiza, drawn by Sabaa Bismil and lettered by Nikki Powers

Miss Barichara glows. Literally. That makes her a special person in her community.

I absolutely loved the fantastic coloring in this one. And I loved the reveal at the end. If you take the entire thing as a metaphor for disability, it becomes especially interesting, although one would hae to question the usefulness angle.

The Way Home

Lost & Found, written and drawn by Saffron Aurora

Frankie works several job while studying to invest the money in body parts. But overworking might not be the best idea.

This comic leans stylistically on video games which I loved, but mostly I loved the end with its message. I can apply that very much to myself.

Solid Shadows, written by Rachel Simon and drawn by K. Guillory

Solid Shadows had me at the first page. I didn’t even know yet what the story was going to be and I was already in love. Of course, I continued to read it so I can say the story is shorter than the rest, but it’s incredibly sweet and beautiful.

Solid Shadows

Inheritance, written and drawn by Gillian Blekkenhorst

Genevieve and Mira move into a new home, but things aren’t right.

Damn, this story was creepy and sad and queer and lovely and it made me FEEL THINGS. And while I didn’t love the way the characters were drawn (although I loved it more with every page), the lettering was truly astounding.

Inheritance

Bad Hair Day, written by Cassandra Khaw, drawn by C. Ann Gordon

Soo Ying has a secret that keeps her from most social engagements. But when Siti asks her out, she is tempted.

I thought Inheritance made me Feel Things, and then Bad Hair Day came along and gave me the rest. It’s beautiful, both the story and the art, and I may have shed a tear or two here.

Leon’s Return, written and drawn by Zoe Maeve

It’s been many years that Leon left home, but they decided that it’s now time to return there.

This is an unusual comic and it took me a bit to adjust to the artistic style but it’s a story about a non-binary (or maybe trans?) lion filled with dragons and strange creatures, how could I not love it?

The Purrrfect Solution, written and drawn by Mandy James

A young witch is just trying to help, but her help isn’t appreciated as intended.

This one was fun and really does give the perfect solution, at least for more misanthropic moments. The art was also really sweet.

The Wife’s Shadow, written and drawn by Janice Liu

Xiao Yan is a good wife and daughter-in-law, but she has trouble sleeping, hearing things nobody else hears.

There’s a softness to this story that I appreciated a lot. It’s a story that makes do without a villain and still is about rebellion. And at the end, I just wanted to cheer for Xiao Yan. I also liked the art style that calls on Liu’s Chinese ancestry and looks stunning.

The Wife’s Shadow

Ugly Cinderwench and the Very Angry Ghost, written and drawn by Xavière Daumarie

A Demon is summoned from hell to banish an angry ghost there. But the demon has her own plans.

While I’m not so sure about a French artist taking on Japanese legends for her work, I have to admit that the story made me laugh and punch the air in glee, so I’d say that it’s a win.

The Insect, written and drawn by Zavka

The Insect lives all alone and she’s so very lonely. That’s when she finally meets others.

The art here is quite psychedelic and the story is very sad, albeit predictable. The latter worked for me, the former not so much. But it was interesting.

Either/Or, written by Lea Shepherd and Laura Neubert, drawn by Laura Neubert and lettered by Nikki Powers

An actress shooting in San Lorenzo, having recently adopted two Filippino kids, draws the attention of local spirits – and not in a good way.

I got a little confused during the showdown of the story as to what was happening and I did feel like they danced around the topic of racism and cultural appropriation that runs through the story. But I did like the moral of it all: “Monsters are like Families. They work a lot of different ways.”

Cold Call, written and drawn by Xia Gordon

Eve works for a sex hotline, a job for which she may be uniquely suited.

Cold Call was a shorter story again and it was simply gorgeous. It’s also pretty astounding on how many issues it touches in such a short time – sex work, racism and its intersections. Plus a monster.

Cold Call

Doilies and Demons, created by Michelle Gruppetta and Fleur Sciortino

Nanaa got something for her granddaughter Emily, but it turns out that it may have been the bigger gift for her.

Doilies and Demons features the most adorable monster I’ve ever seen in a supercute story with a bittersweet ending. Lovely.

The Alligator at the End of the World, written by H. Pueyo, drawn by Dante L.

Cuca works hard and has little to show for it. She just needs a little more money to get her fortune-telling off the ground. So why not strike a deal with the devil?

The Alligator at the End of the World wasn’t bad, but it didn’t blow me away either. I did like the twist at the end, though.

Best Boo, written and drawn by Megan Kearney, lettered by Nikki Powers

April and her friends have plans in the cemetery.

Gah, how can a story be so SWEET? I want to cuddle this story. I want to tuck it in with a nice, soft blanket. My HEART.

Best Boo

White, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant, written by BC Holmes, drawn by Dee Williams, colored by Meaghan Carter, lettered by BC Holmes

A couple are looking for a man to help them conceive their baby. Terms and conditions apply.

For a story that pretty much builds on a pun, this was really excellent. And I liked how unapologetic it was, as well as the colors. But I didn’t fall in love with it.

Date Night, written by Allison Bannister, drawn by Ronnie Ritchie, colored by Meaghan Carter, lettered by Nikki Powers

First Dates are difficult, especially when you’re a T-Rex.

This story was funny and sweet and has a bi dinosaur protagonist. What else could I possibly ask for?

Date Night

Light Pollution, written and drawn by iguanamouth

I’m a follower of iguanamouth on tumblr (I just love their unusual dragon hoards), where they actually posted this comic, so I knew it already. But that doesn’t make it any less gorgeous and cute.

Light Pollution

Moonless Sea, written and drawn by Casandra Grullon

By searching for fish, a fisherman also found mermaids. And he has plans for at least one of them.

Moonless Sea was a strong finish for the collection, albeit not my favorite (but I would be hard-pressed to name a favorite anyway). It felt a little too traditional for me, but it was good.

Summarizing: an overall fantastic anthology.

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