Created by Maria Stoian
Published by Singing Dragon
Hardback/Full Colour. £14.99
Comics can cover all kind of subjects, a fact that I am sure I don’t need to tell you. Consequently, they can instil different feelings in the reader through the skills of the creators. Take It As A Compliment from Maria Stoian and Singing Dragon successfully had me feeling both sadness and anger throughout its stories. However not for any bad reasons relating to the craft of the book. This is after all one of the best books I have read in quite a while and I will be shouting about it to anyone who listens. It made me sad because of the heartbreaking tales it tells, all true to a man or woman. It also made me angry because these people have suffered these assaults and abuse in a society that I (and you) call home.
It’s not a fact that escapes us. That sexual, physical and verbal abuse occurs in the cities , towns, villages and countryside of the UK and beyond – and is something we all know about (or should do). It is a fact that is brought home so solidly by this comic. It speaks volumes about society and the nature of certain people existing and propagating within it. The comic never minimises the hurt and harm of even the shortest or smallest encounter and treats each account like a hammer to crack the terrible, laddish, disgusting and loutish behaviour it depicts. I hope that it means more than a few readers feel regret at past actions through reading these pages.
When Singing Dragon sent me Take It As A Compliment, I read it immediately. The stories are real from real people and translated onto the page by Maria in differing styles that suit the particular account. No names are given of the victims or the aggressors. But their emotions and feelings ring out like bells in my head as I read onwards. Quite simply put, this book is an education, a reminder of what it is to be a victim. The self blaming, the victims guilt, and most importantly the help that can be gained by communicating your feelings and experiences to others.
This book should be given out at schools, colleges and universities, nightclubs and pubs… in fact anywhere that large groups of people of all ages gather and interact. An awfully large bunch of people need to know the implications and effects of their actions – an act that is so eloquently conveyed in this comic.
I had not heard of Maria before, but her storytelling abilities are fully formed and impactful. The art style jumps between pages that reminded me at times of artists as differing as James Kochalka to Victor Hussenot to Jeffrey Brown. It is in full colour and in palettes chosen to exemplify the hurt and suffering in each and every story. It is magnificent and will draw a tear from the most hardened of readers.
The last few pages of the book give advice of what to do if you are affected by the stories or have had something horrible happen to you personally.
• If you have been affected by anything I have written above or just want someone to chat to I cannot recommend the Samaritans any higher. Contact them in the UK or Ireland by calling 116 123 – sometimes just talking about it will help
Many thanks for reading.
Antony Esmond is a comic reviewer and writer – his hips don’t lie.