Tuesday , December 5 2023
Cover Woman World

Graphic Novel Review: ‘Woman World’ by Aminder Dhaliwal

Woman World by Aminder Dhaliwal, published by Drawn + Quarterly, stands humbly tall in its genius mixture of science fiction, humor, drama, and philosophy. An experiment in online storytelling, Woman World served originally as a biweekly webcomic, which feeds its episodic nature growing storylines while having no dedication to a particular length. This style lends itself well to realism, giving portrayals of some days that pass by quickly with a few fun jokes while others are fraught with tension and adventure.

Woman World begins like a hard sci-fi novel. A scientist discovers that the statistical balance of having more women than men in the world is not just happenstance: men are actually dying out, generation by generation. While politicians continue their focus elsewhere and most people worry more about natural disasters, the generations winnow away human males until it truly becomes a woman’s world.

All of this serves as background for the true story of Woman World, the all-women village called Beyonce’s Thighs. It is populated by nudist leader Gaia; artist Ina; blacksmith Yumi; wise Ulaana, who remembers the days of men; youngsters like Naomi and Emiko who have never seen a living man; and numerous others who make their living in a mostly calm post-apocalyptic land.

Life continues by carefully controlled sperm stocks that allow a new generation. Although there is always a sense of quiet impending doom with no one quite sure what will happen when the supply runs out. In the meantime, there are plenty of opportunities to crack wise.

Woman World blends wider philosophical pondering with hilarity that pops out at the reader. Searching the nearby ruins, Emiko finds an old artifact, a DVD of Paul Blart, Mall Cop, whom she takes as a heroic role model and inspiration of the perfect male specimen.

Her grandmother Ulaana does not have the heart to tell her otherwise and instead feeds her with encouragement. New religions form up when stashes of Oprah media are discovered. A Blockbuster store is shown as a dilapidated storefront, identical to how it stood decades before the calamity.

Other jokes in Woman World are quick gags as suitable for the Internet age, such as the doctor finding a note reading, “Please examine my enclosed stool sample,” leading her to an actual four-legged stool while pranksters giggle outside. Ulaana makes up ridiculous rules to a game she assures the children is baseball, which involves giving grandmas kisses and yelling “Baseball!” Plenty of other laughs come from wordplay, such as comparing manpower and girl power in terms of force.

Yet Woman World is not just comic of jokes. The characters grow while the relationships between them develop. Much of the comic is dedicated to the interworkings of the younger women, going in and out of relationships, carrying crushes, and dealing with gossip.

The confident mayor balances maintaining her political position with inspirational speeches while not wanting to play herself up. Yumi struggles with anxiety, showing that, no matter the apocalyptic circumstances, people are people, which is the core truth of Woman World.

About Jeff Provine

Jeff Provine is a Composition professor, novelist, cartoonist, and traveler of three continents. His latest book is a collection of local ghost legends, Campus Ghosts of Norman, Oklahoma.

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