Get Ready for Emilia Clarke’s Superhero Comic about Periods. Yes, you read that right.
Emilia Clarke is switching her successful acting career, for the time being, for her first three-issue comic book. Clarke describes her decision to create and write a comic book as something that was purely a “selfish” experiment. However, seeing as comic book shops are stereotypically male-only spaces and comic books are gendered towards those who identify as male, Clarke has created a comic specifically designed to empower those who menstruate – something that is unique and certainly not a traditional superhero comic. So even though Clarke claims this is a “selfish” pursuit, it’s clearly something that is much needed in today’s society.
So what’s so great about this comic?
Clarke wrote this comic with an all-female creative team: Marguerite Bennet (co-writer) and Leila Leiz (artwork) both contributed to this soon-to-be-released work. This all-female creative team is particularly ground-breaking given the universally acknowledged fact that both DC and Marvel aren’t exactly great at hiring females.
Despite the ever-growing talented female creators, the current statistics of female creators that work for DC/Marvel is between 16-17% – it used to be just 10%, as reported by Beat Staff’s ‘Women in Comics, By the Numbers: Summer and Fall 2018.’
Moreover, only 26.7% of DC and Marvel characters are female and only 12% of the main superhero comics include female protagonists, according to Amanda Shednruk’s ‘Analyzing the Gender Representation of 34, 476 Comic Book Characters.’ Evidently, there is gap in the market for Clarke’s new comic book, given the incredibly low statistics of female characters and creators in the comic book industry.
Clarke’s new comic book, ‘MOM: Mother of Madness’, follows single mother Maya and her difficulties of balancing work life and looking after her child Billy – all while fighting villains.
Clarke commented during a Zoom call with press:
“We were talking about how mums are like superheroes, women have this incredible ability to have so much going on and managed to achieve all of those things…It’s almost superpowered.”
Significantly, Clarke’s comic focuses around menstruation – a subject that is largely untaught and unspoken. I think what is so refreshing about Clarke’s comic is the fact that periods are glorified instead of shamed and ignored.
This celebration of menstruation is highlighted by the fact Maya’s superhero powers activate during her period. So all the things that you feel during your period are what gives Maya strength. Clarke stated, “The bloating, the hair growth, the mood swings, the [acne]…” are used to make periods appear as a “unique, crazy superhuman thing that happens in our body”. For example, “When Maya is scared, she goes invisible, when she’s angry, she has superhuman strength…”
I think what’s one of the most interesting aspects of this comic is that Clarke notes Maya is “so ashamed of her powers at the start”.
Clarke compares Maya’s embarrassment with the shame you experience when a “tampon falls out of your bag”. If and when this happens in public, there is an undeniable sense of embarrassment and humiliation at the now-not-so-secret period product on display. This is as a result of the fact that periods are effectively treated as a taboo subject, even though it’s a natural and an unpreventable process.
Consequently, Clarke uses this embarrassment as a source of power for her comic, and I think it will be a must read, especially for those who menstruate and indeed for those who don’t.
But wait, there’s more to this untraditional comic.
Within the comic, Maya repetitively breaks the fourth wall – a technique where a character addresses the reader so that they’re included in the narrative. Clarke’s choice to include the technique of the fourth wall, something that’s not particularly common with comics, is as a consequence of the ‘Deadpool’ movies being her source of inspiration.
When Ryan Reynolds breaks the fourth wall in the ‘Deadpool’ movies, by talking to the camera, Clarke comments:
“You get an emotional connection to it, so I wanted to just like, hone in on that as much as possibly by having Maya actually talk to the reader, which I think is quite fun when you get to speak to the person in the moment that they’re reading it, it kind of then lives outside of time, which I really like”
As a result of Clarke’s theme of menstruation, combined with the inclusion of the fourth wall technique this clearly suggests that Clarke’s comic will be a work of art. I think there is tendency to think that celebrities who enter into different career paths (such as Clarke entering into the world of comic books) do it for the money. However, you can clearly see that Clarke has done this to create conversations about menstruation and female creators for comic books. Choosing a controversial and inherently unspoken topic and the fact its been created by three women – evidently demonstrates this is a must-read.
The first issue of this all-female written comic will be released on July 21st – make sure to get yourself a copy!