WAYWARD SISTERS: AN ANTHOLOGY OF MONSTROUS WOMEN by TO Comix Press
Art
Story
Characterization
Summary
Along with its sincere commitment to diversity, the exceptional art of this anthology sets it apart as one you should definitely pick up for yourself and your ghoulfriends.
91 %
A VISUAL POWERHOUSE

In WAYWARD SISTERS: AN ANTHOLOGY OF MONSTROUS WOMEN, TO Comix Press has a horde of skilled creators take on what it means to be a monster.

After a successful campaign on Kickstarter in November, WAYWARD SISTERS is finally ready. This 224-page anthology contains 25 different comics, each presenting a unique vision of femme monstrosity. The forward by Faith Erin Hicks not only unifies the entire anthology but is moving in and of itself. In it, she writes about how she has always felt like a weirdo. Despite her affinity for Disney princesses, she never felt like she could truly relate to them. Enter Marrow from X-MEN, who Hicks describes as “angry and not pretty,” just like her teenage self.

WAYWARD SISTERS
Image courtesy of TO Comix Press.

Hicks’ aside is pretty meta. It not only shows the value of diverse representation, but specifically the value of diverse representation in comics. And that’s exactly what WAYWARD SISTERS is all about. This is an anthology for those of us who are a little more monstrous than we are graceful. It’s an anthology for those of us who could never fit into that “princess” mold no matter how hard we tried. It’s also for those of us who refused to even try in the first place.

Speaking of representation, WAYWARD SISTERS establishes itself as an inclusive volume from the start. Any description you see of this anthology will tell you it includes women and non-binary characters. Why? Because non-binary people know all about trying to fit into molds that just won’t work for them.

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“Monstrosity” in WAYWARD SISTERS

WAYWARD SISTERS draws from a diversity of folk traditions. It even includes that crocodile that spawned a million memes. Some of the monsters are totally original as far as I can tell. Furthermore, some of the comics are exactly what you’d expect from “AN ANTHOLOGY OF MONSTROUS WOMEN.” Others are totally unexpected. Some are funny, some even made me cry. There’s a lot here, and it’s hard to do the sheer span of artistic vision justice in a single review. 

Many of the comics within WAYWARD SISTERS play with identity and self-esteem. They do this by stretching our idea of what it means to be a monster. Can we look like a monster but not be one? Or can you be a monster and not look like one? The answer to these questions is “yes.” Monstrousness is on display here in a number of ways. Some of the characters are violent, some are wicked, but most are just plain misunderstood.

WAYWARD SISTERS
Image courtesy of TO Comix Press.

In this regard, I wish some of the creators would have pushed themselves to be just a tad more horrifying. Don’t get me wrong — some of these comics are pretty disturbing. “The Insect,” specifically, reminds me of when I had a bad reaction to medication and hallucinated as a kid. However, a lot of the comics are more cute and spooky than they are actually scary. To be clear, I do not think WAYWARD SISTERS was ever intended to be read like a horror comic. Still, it would have been cool to see the genre represented a little more robustly. After all, the title uses “monstrous” as a self-descriptor. In the end, I walked away still a little bloodthirsty.

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Second to None Visuals

WAYWARD SISTERS is one of the most impressive showcases of artistic talent I have ever seen in an anthology. WAYWARD SISTERS showcases a stylistic range that I can hardly put into words. Some of the comics, like “Best Boo,” “Skin Deep,” and “Bad Hair Day,” are pretty traditional looking, but still stellar. Others, like “Leon’s Return” and “Cold Call” contain artwork that pulls from established visual traditions to create something wholly new. Regardless, the quality of the art and the coloring are top-notch in almost every single comic. This anthology presents a delicious tasting of what the medium of comics offers visually.

WAYWARD SISTERS
Image courtesy of TO Comix Press.

However, I do wish there were fewer characters who were conventionally pretty. Too many female characters had the bodies and facial features we expect from trite depictions of women in comics. Still, I think this reflects how artists learn to draw women rather than any individual artist’s standard of beauty. I did genuinely appreciate the depictions of queer people, plus-size people, and other marginalized groups within WAYWARD SISTERS. But the anthology could have taken this further, especially given its apparent commitment to diversity. After all, I think one of the most “monstrous” things you can do as a woman is to refuse to conform to beauty standards.

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Final Thoughts on WAYWARD SISTERS: AN ANTHOLOGY OF MONSTROUS WOMEN

WAYWARD SISTERS is one of those comics that offers a little something for everyone. Its diverse line-up of creators embodies everything good about what’s happening in the comics industry right now. It pulls off a surprisingly perfect mixture of spooky, cute, and empowering. Seriously, if you have friends that do not read comics, buy this for them. Show them what they’re missing. Even for veteran comic fans, I can’t recommend this one enough.

WAYWARD SISTERS: AN ANTHOLOGY OF MONSTROUS WOMEN can be purchased here.

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