Sharp Wit And The Company Of Women edited by Michele Abounader

A Wave Blue World goes from strength to strength with this, their latest comics anthology focusing on women, blades and sapphic love.

As with any anthology, there’s a broad range of subject and subjective quality, meant to appeal to all tastes while still revolving around the central theme. More importantly, Sharp Wit And The Company Of Woman does an amazing job of spotlighting upcoming comics writers and artists who might not yet have hit the mainstream but who are sure to make a big splash when they do.

For this review, I’m just gonna focus on my own favorites and go through them in order, so apologies for any repetition in my reasons for enjoyment — I could arrange everything thematically, but honestly my brain is a little fried right now from all the reading I’ve done this weekend. I personally felt that this volume only really got going with Joan, Nineteen by Lillian Hochwender, Filipa Catalao Coelho and Kielamel Sibal. While the opening comics were your fairly standard tales of tormented women warriors — if anything, the stories they were trying to convey felt underexplored and unfortunately limited by the short format — this was the first one that felt to me like a complete snapshot, perfectly conveying the struggles of a young girl in our modern age who can’t help comparing herself to St Joan of Arc, for very good reason.

I read the next comic, Starcrossed by Fell Hound and Kielamel Sibal, while listening to Nana Triste by Natalia Lacunza and Guitarricadelafuente. Despite the poetry of this entry not quite scanning in places, the combination of the art and the incidental music made the piece feel deeply moving. The “astral” panels are especially beautiful, and would likely have carried the tale even without my musical choices.

Speaking of music, Let Justice Be My Axe by Chris Mole, Lauren Knight and JP Jordan seamlessly blends ancient myth with modern music and band culture. I absolutely adored Iron Deficiency by Michele Abounader, Tench and Aubrey Lyn Jeppson, and would 100% read a whole novel, graphic or otherwise, featuring Bette and Margot.

A Partition Of Pride And Persistence: The Last Squabble by A James and Fiona Creates was probably my second favorite entry in this book. The gorgeous art was what initially caught my eye, but the excellent storytelling matched it beat for beat, with a really terrific resolution. And then came my absolute favorite story, Cadence by Keith Frady and Sarah Stern. In only six pages, this tale made me laugh, cry and genuinely fear for our lovers. It’s a perfect comic short, superlative not only in this collection but in any showcase of romance and heroism.

Birthright by Ari Pluchinsky and Sam Bowen was a solid fantasy installment with a big twist I didn’t see coming. Apranik And Her Talking Sword Shamsir by Kamiab Ghorbanpour and Pareefae was another terrific story with an excellent, if comedic ending twist: both these stories are ones I would love to see expanded into novels, despite the shorts being entirely satisfying already on their own. Pareefae’s art on the latter was also exceptional.

The twists in Cicadoko’s Stabbed felt much more telegraphed, but the characters are so darn endearing, I didn’t even care! More of this adorable central pair, please! Eva Cabrera’s art on the next story, Gal Gallant In “Dance With The Devil”, was an exceptional homage to Golden Age Comics, and likely my favorite in the entire volume. Ofc, Chase Bluestone’s colors and lettering played a large part in how gorgeously the story came out, perfectly complementing Joe Corallo’s tale of women more than capably taking care of the homefront while the men are away at war.

Conventional Weapons by Casper Manning had another odd couple central pairing, tho with the added twist of Esfelle being a lady knight who’s stepped out of time and into the modern world. It was effortlessly charming, and a tale I wanted to read much more of. Finally, Moll by Danny Lore, Skylar Patridge, Tench and Jodie Troutman brought us back to a Call Of Cthulhu-like milieu that was perfectly illustrated.

I loved how Ms Abounader’s stated aim throughout was to inspire readers to “Keep going, even if only out of spite.” These nineteen stories perfectly convey that message, and are valuable reading for anyone who appreciates strong women caring about other women.

Sharp Wit And The Company Of Women edited by Michele Abounader was published March 5 2024 by A Wave Blue World and is available from all good booksellers, including

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