In August 2017, ComicMix launched their Kickstarter for Mine!, a comics collection benefiting health services organization Planned Parenthood. Mine! features contributions from Eisner-Award winners and nominees to independent creators and up-and-coming artists, aimed at celebrating freedom and choice, and to help dispel myths and misconceptions about sex, gender and reproductive health. Fortunately, the Kickstarter was a success, raising nearly $60,000 for the collection’s production. All proceeds generated by the book will go towards Planned Parenthood, of which is ever at risk of being blocked from receiving federal Medicaid funding by President Trump’s administration. This is particularly concerning as the organization provides health care, medical screenings, education, and resources for reproductive and sexual wellness to people from all walks of life.
In this interview, I spoke to Justin Hall, one of the many wonderful people who contributed to this collection. Justin is a cartoonist who is best known for his work on No Straight Lines, a scholarly overview of LGBT comics of the previous 40 years. When not appearing at conventions and talking on panels about LGBT comics, he also teaches at California College of the Arts. For his contribution to Mine!, Justin collaborated with his mother, Margaret Miller, relating her personal story of a pregnancy scare when she was just a poor student studying in France.
How did you get involved with the “Mine!” project?
Joe Corallo, one of the organizers of the project, asked me to come onboard. Then I asked my mother to collaborate with me!
Obviously, this is a personal story of your mother’s, Margaret Miller. Has she ever shared this story with you? How was it to illustrate the story?
My mom has told me this story many times over the years, about her pregnancy scare while she was an impoverished college student living in France in 1964. At that time, the pill was illegal and the only place in Europe where abortions were legal was Sweden, but she didn’t have the money to get up there… If things had gone differently, she would have had a much more difficult life, hemmed in by a sexist French boyfriend and the need to raise a family before she was ready to do so. This was a formative moment for my mom, and she now volunteers for the Blue Ridge Abortion Assistance Fund, which assists poor women in Virginia with obtaining and paying for abortions.
It was amazing to work with my mom on this story! We worked on the script and page layouts together, and she sent me pictures of her and her friends from back when they were nineteen, living in Bordeaux, to use as photo references. The collaboration went perfectly smooth, though she did demand that I redraw her in one panel where she claimed I made her face look too chubby and her hands too gnarly (haha).
I would assume you and your mother have the sort of relationship that allows for “very-open” dialogue. Would you describe it like that?
Haha! My husband is constantly horrified by how much my mom and I overshare with each other. We’re very close and she’s honestly one of my heroes; her courage, strength, and wisdom have been a guiding influence for me throughout my life.
As a gay male, it’s understandable how your feelings/experiences would be different from the women that your mother helps though the Blue Ridge Abortion Assistance Fund. That said, in which ways is Planned Parenthood important to the gay/bi/trans community with the services they offer?
Planned Parenthood is a wonderfully inclusive and welcoming organization, providing health care, support, and advice to LGBTQ people as well as the rest of the population. I love the information they provide on their website, for example, where they break down in thorough but simple terms the relationships between sex, gender, and sexuality. They cover trans and intersex identities, and provide links and information for everything from queer youth support groups, to coming out to your doctor, to handling homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia. This is a remarkable resource and I have no doubt has saved many LGBTQ live over the years!
Mine! Is projected to be coming soon, sometime this month. Preorder your copy of Mine! or contribute to Planned Parenthood at http://bit.ly/2gzl2bb
Nicholas Eskey is an avid reader and writer. When not contributing to The Beat, he works on his personal projects, the latest being a fantasy novel called “My Personable Demon.” He lives in San Diego, California, and is frequently bossed around by his cat.