On Loving Women by Diane Obomsawin

23rd Jul 2014

On Loving Women by Diane Obomsawin
Cartoonist Diane Obomsawin asked several friends and lovers about their coming out stories. Then she turned their memories into diaristic comics, and the results are adorable.

Canadian publishers Drawn and Quarterly are seasoned pros when it comes to finding some of the best talent in graphic novels, so hopes are high for this debut.

Diane Obomsawin is a former graphic designer from Montreal, who has been publishing comics since the 1980s.

This book is a collection of shorter stories which all follow the same theme of women discovering their sexual identity and falling in love (or lust) for the first time.

The characters are all anthropomorphic animals with the bodies of human women. The opening story features a schoolgirl who is obsessed with horses. She falls in love with her sister’s classmate, who has a horse face (an observation which Obomsawin depicts literally).

The comics range from the innocent tale of two young girls holding hands all night in a convent, to the story of a night out ending in an unexpected threesome.

Some of the stories are funny, some are heartbreaking and others uplifting. Some are about the confusion of adolescence while others focus on adulthood – which of course can be equally confusing at times. One relationship begins in infidelity and ends the same way.

Diane Obomsawin successfully captures these significant moments in various women’s lives without losing their individual voices.

The words and images are carefully chosen and fit together well. There are some amusing slapstick moments, such as a character being hit by a pan to show she is in a state of shock, and an action shot of someone dropping acid. The stories are brought to life by the small details Obomsawin chooses to pick out.

Significant moments in various women’s lives are captured without losing their individual voices. Each story has a distinctive tone.

The linework is simple and the colours are monochrome, without dramatic contrasts between the greys. The style works well with the sweet nature of the book.

Even the sex scenes have an air of innocence about them, portrayed as they are by cute animals with earnest facial expressions and simply-drawn human bodies.

The cuteness and surreal nature of the artwork does not take away from the realistic portrayal of events, but rather helps to make it a pleasant and overall uplifting read.

On Loving Women is a pleasant book to own both in terms of content and physical quality. A slightly rubbery finish on the cover combined with a convenient size means it’s satisfying to hold.

This is a sweet, understated and exquisitely-drawn collection. It is also important in that many young women may recognise themselves in its pages and realise that, rather than being alone, their experiences could just as easily be added to a book like this.