Tomorrow, Tatiana Gill will release her new comic Wombgenda at the Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery as part of the Comics & Medicine Conference. Over the last couple of years, Gill has become one of Seattle's best, and most prolific, autobiographical cartoonists, and Wombgenda collects some of her latest work — most of it related to women's health, but with some current events mixed in.
The three long pieces in Wombgenda address Gill's journey to developing a positive body image, her abortion story, and an account of getting a new IUD at Country Doctor. Her style in these strips is very reminiscent of Seattle cartoonist Roberta Gregory's autobiographical comics from the 1990s — simple figures, little to no backgrounds, and a lot of words packed into every panel. They feel something like handwritten letters from a friend — confessional, intimate, exuberant, and heartfelt.
Most of Gill's stories are about discovery: learning she's not alone, figuring out what to do to solve a problem, looking into the basic day-to-day processes of a doctor who specializes in women's health. If you are a woman wrestling with body image issues, or unwanted pregnancy, or other health issues and these comics land in your hands at just the right moment, they could easily be the most important comics you'll ever read in your life. If you are not any of those things, Gill's specificity — her confident voice and strident curiosity — can help put a face on an issue in a way that might change your perspective. And isn't that what non-fiction comics are all about?
The other material in Wombgenda mostly hews to political spot illustrations drawn from the tradition of American World War II propaganda posters. (I like the one of Lady Justice and Lady Liberty flipping a rich guy's chair over with the caption "Let's work together and overthrow the patriarchy.") She also includes a page of love notes to cartoonist women from Seattle who influenced her, giving the comic the air of a 1990s fanzine.
Maybe one day, Gill will get a fancy book deal from a big New York publisher to do a graphic memoir and she'll disappear for a few years while she works on her magnum opus. But for now, we're lucky to have her out in the streets of Seattle, attending our protests, telling the stories of women, capturing everyday life in a city that's always changing. She's telling this city's stories, and we're lucky to have her.