There have been other comics about a same-sex world — most notably, Y: The Last Man, which still wound up being about a guy — but Aminder Dhaliwal’s is the funniest and most pointed. Originally a webcomic, Woman World has been expanded with a color introduction, mostly of full-page images, that explains fewer men were being born, but (like climate change) no one took the science seriously until it was too late.
Explaining the basis for the setting isn’t necessary, but it sets the tone — although technically science fiction, the characters here are realistic reactions to what we’re living through now. (Except I still find it odd that the leader is running around naked.)
Most of the book is sparser, black-and-white work where the figures carry the gags about women not really needing men anyway. One recurring situation is a grandmother who remembers a world with them having a different understanding than her granddaughter, who only knows them through a copy of Paul Blart, Mall Cop.
Not all the jokes are gender-based. Early on, the women need to build a hospital and hire a doctor, so there are some medical jokes and puns. Some are about finding a forgotten artifact, such as high-heel shoes. A sequence shows how each character reacts to a rainy day, a charming device to compare and contrast. A recurring theme is unrequited love, as one woman loves another already in a couple. Relationship struggles are universally relatable.
The simplified art does a great job showing you just enough for the situation or punchline. Sometimes it’s just about the reference, as with an abandoned Blockbuster. As the book continues, it becomes more philosophical, tackling anxiety and building confidence. It can be a fast read, but it left me thinking, with the characters coming to mind at unexpected times.
The jokes are creative but grounded, not silly for their own sake. Dhaliwal has the imagination to view things we take for granted — like “that’s what she said” references — as weird as they really are, in a world without male dominance. It’s a particularly timely work, and the kind of humor I needed to read right now. (The publisher provided a review copy.)