In the MAW

A first look at what I've been working on. Also, some scary fish.

In the MAW
That's never good. Line art from MAW #1 by the amazing A.L. Kaplan. 

I pitched Maw to BOOM! Studios in the summer of 2019. It was the first comic script I ever sold, though not the first I attempted. I used to write them in college, thinking I knew enough visual artists to maybe get one off the ground, and one of them — an admittedly dopey X-Men meets Ms. 45 thing, with a vigilante telepath hunting down rapists in dark alleyways  — took up several weeks of a summer, long enough for me to get attached.

“You can’t just have some woman murdering shitty dudes,” my then-boyfriend said when I showed it to him. “You need to have a story.”

To this, I say: Maw will be available in comic stores across the nation, starting on September 15, 2021.

Maw is, in fact, about a woman murdering shitty dudes. It turns out that’s a story — a whole genre, actually. Maw is also much more than that, because my boyfriend (a nice and patient man) was right. Stories do need more than one idea. Maw wound up containing some of the more urgent ideas and questions I've covered in my past decade of writing about sexual violence and gender politics. For example:

What does “justice” look like for sexual assault survivors?

What is the legacy of the feminist second wave?

What does it mean to “hate men?”

What role do feminist men play in patriarchy?

Why do we treat traumatized people as monsters?

Is anything cooler than witchcraft?

Why are fish bad?

Why is the “wellness” movement so important to so many women? What are those women getting from Gwyneth that they’re not finding elsewhere?

Why was being pregnant so gross?

Seriously. A live being grew in me. Am I allowed to find that gross? Is that weird?

What do I hate about “being a woman?”

Do I hate "being a woman?"

Is it normal to hate being a woman? Is this connected to how gross pregnancy is? Am I just... okay. Hang on a second.

Am I a woman?

Have I been saying "woman" when I mean "trauma?"

Can trauma turn you into a monster?

What would I get, if I got revenge?

Perhaps not all of those questions are relevant to your personal situation. You may not have the same answers I do. But what I’m proudest of, about Maw, is that it’s not a didactic work. There are five main characters in Maw, and each of them has a very different set of answers to these questions. Letting those five people work things out amongst themselves allowed me to cultivate multiple points of view, enjoy complexity and contradiction, not always rush to some deceptively simple conclusion. Hopefully, as you read it, you will be able to answer those questions for yourself. (Except the one about me being a woman. That’s a hard no.) Maw won't tell you how to feel. It'll just give you some feelings to take back into your life, where you can use them.

In the coming months, I plan to write more about what went into Maw. I’ll cover movies and horror stories that influenced the script, and post after each of its five issues go on sale to explore the five characters at its center and the bits of history or theory that I’m trying to address through their arcs.

For now, though, please enjoy these covers, each of which gives its own answer to the question all of us must one day answer: Why are fish bad?

From Ariela Kristantina, the main cover artist for the series – I love how delicate and fairy-tale-inflected her work can be while also still being gross.
A riff on "Picnic at Hanging Rock," by Megan Hutchison. I very much dig the "I'm not like other girls. I'm an unthinkable abomination" vibe.
UNTHINKABLE ABOMINATION. Excellent body horror courtesy of Abz J. Harding
I love the clammy, drowning feeling in this Tiffany Turrill cover: Slowly falling to the depths, with the whale skeletons, where all the fish live. Fish are bad. 

MAW's first issue goes on sale September 15, 2021. You can start requesting it at your local comic shop now, and I hope you will – if you don't buy them, they won't let me make any more, and I truly loved writing this comic.

The caption for the header image may not be visible in all editions of this email, so, just to be sure you see this: The line art in the header is pre-color line work from MAW #1. It's by the great A.L. Kaplan, whose comic Full-Spectrum Therapy you can read here.