Go With the Flow
Go With the Flow marks just how prevalent female readers and authors have become in comics. As one of the characters says, “Fifty percent of the population gets a period… but it’s like this HUGE secret we can’t talk about?” This book would not have existed several years ago.
As it is, it’s a good starting point. It’s a lengthy book, over 300 pages, because the authors touch, if only briefly, on a wide variety of related subjects. (I believe Lily Williams wrote and drew it, and Karen Schneemann co-wrote.) However, as with many projects that set out to make a case for a certain point of view, the story takes second place. I was frustrated that several of the conflicts needed to move the plot forward are not resolved here.
Abby, the redhead, is an artist and rabble-rouser. Sasha is the new girl at school who meets Abby and her friends when she gets her first period and doesn’t notice, although others do and make fun of her. The other girls sweep in to help her get what she needs. Noticing that the girls’ restroom has no supplies, and that even if the machine was stocked, they’d be asked to pay for the necessity, angers Abby, who spends the rest of the school year trying different approaches to do something about the unfairness of the situation.
The two friends are less well-developed. Christine is the blunt truth-teller. One of the many sub-plots involves her guy study buddy trying to ask her out (and being a typically idiotic adolescent boy about it), while she seems to prefer Abby. That latter part comes late in the book and isn’t sufficiently established for me to know exactly what was going on there.
Brit has painful periods and is missing a lot of school because of them. Unfortunately, we don’t find out in this book why that is. There are also some mean girls who exist as a plot device and don’t get the comeuppance that would be more dramatically satisfying.
The book is monochrome, with the art colored in shades of (obviously) brick red. The illustration style is effective in getting the job done and conveys the girls’ emotions. I’m glad to see the book, and it should spawn a lot of good, useful, important conversations. As a graphic novel, though, it works better as a conversation starter than a story.