For women around the country ― and around the world ― the election of Donald Trump wasn’t just disappointing. It was gutting. Most were expecting to welcome America’s first woman president, and instead they got a candidate with over a dozen allegations of sexual assault to his name. There was shock, disbelief, mourning ― and then, women got to work. As for women artists, they got to making work.
Resist! is a comic anthology comprised of work by women artists, LGBTQ artists and artists of color ― the communities most directly endangered by the President-elect ― that directly addresses the thoughts, feelings, fears, and actions of those who don’t quite fit inside Trump’s America, and don’t intend to stay quiet. The publication is edited by The New Yorker’s art director, Françoise Mouly, and her daughter, Nadja Spiegelman.
Originally, Gabe Fowler, the publisher of the comic newspaper Smoke Signal, reached out to Mouly, imploring her to create a special edition of the paper that addressed the issues pressing to those triggered and threatened by the election. “There was a need to be making something rather than sitting around feeling helpless,” Spiegelman told New York Magazine. “And this felt like a way of giving voice to something that needed to exist.”
Spiegelman and Mouly created a website for Resist!, complete with a call for submissions of half-page comics by artists of diverse and marginalized backgrounds. Only a few days later, they were flooded with images from artists all around the world. By their deadline, they had received over 1,000 images
Some illustrate the personal struggle of waking up in the morning post-election, and the feelings of fear and inadequacy that bubble up after months of listening to Trump speak. Others depict the hypocrisy thrust upon women from birth, refusing to stay silent regarding the discrimination that continues to shape our nation’s culture.
“The day after the election, I woke up in a daze, depressed and incredulous,” contributing comic artist My Ngoc To wrote in an email to The Huffington Post. “I realized that I had stayed silent, and that silence was deadly. So now, after the election, I cope by creating dangerously. As a Vietnamese-American woman, making art allows me to represent myself and my demographic with more accuracy. The works I make are intended to tear down whatever racism, misogyny, white supremacy, and patriarchy that has gained confidence after Trump’s election. It’s my way of screaming, only the sound remains permanent and unavoidable, informing audiences that I, too, am American.”
Although the publication never directly solicited money for funding, Resist! received $4,000 in donations through the website, enough to finance the distribution of 30,000 free copies of the printed publication on inauguration weekend, beginning January 20, 2017. Further distribution will occur at the Women’s March the following day, and after that as well.
Submissions are closed for the printed book, but artists are still welcome to submit their work to be included on the Resist! blog or potential future projects. Anyone is welcome to submit, though women are especially encouraged. The suggested theme for images is “not my president.”
As Moury and Spiegelman explained to New York Magazine, although Trump is the motivation behind the project, he is not the focus of it. While some images refer directly to Trump’s aggressively sexist quotes and beliefs, many discuss the ability of women to transcend hatred and fear, as well as their ability to organize together. Rather than simply bashing Trump, the artists focus on the immense strength and potential of women who stand together, speak up, and fight back.
While art is not the only way to fight back against a Trump presidency, for those blessed with the talent to communicate sharply through images, it’s a start. “I think that pictures have a way of searing themselves into your brain and cutting through the hypocrisy,” Spiegelman said. “And constant and immediate reaction through pictures is a necessary form of political resistance.”