All sorts of things are washed by the waters of the shallow seas. Fish, old packages, or lost items end up on the shores of this world. And what a surprise, even a woman. Anyway, Marie-Louis, a former sailor in Nogogodi, meets the three scientists who conduct their research at a meteorological station on the Kara Sea on this unusual route.
However, their expertise in one field cannot hide their true lack of knowledge in another: the history and life of women.
In several short episodes, Mary Louise conveys female cultural history to the Three Gentlemen. Transferring her wealth of knowledge around a campfire near a weather station forms the basic structure of the new graphic novel True Stories Mary Lewis Tells. (Parallelallee, 96 pages, 19 €) by Tina Brenneisen (“The Light That Casts Shadows”, “Bergstraße 68”, “The Hoodies”). The Berlin comedian takes up current debates in a satirical and exaggerated way and skillfully blends them with fiction.
At the same time, it creates a bewildering game of truth and lies. Because you can never be sure if a passionate narrator does not repeatedly try to deceive her listeners. However, this is not critical. The fact that the boundaries between fictional and invented reality are fluid is what makes the graphic novel so appealing.
First of all, after this mysterious discovery on the beach, stranded Mary Louise has to restore her health. Under a fishing net covered with mud, algae and shells, the three scientists found this unknown female creature. She is naked, screaming and kicking as the men try to free her.
“Do you like sculpting?”
Warmly dressed, with bread on a stick and vodka, Mary Louis soon became quite talkative and the three scholars heard her words. And they have many questions about women’s lives, such as: “Do you have dreams?” , “Do you like sweets?” or “Do you like sculpting?”
The tales told by Mary Lewis while she supposedly travels a lot, provide a cross-section of social issues such as climate change, food shortages, or the gender debate. Whether real or invented, fact or fiction – Brensen critically examines the roles of women and men in individual episodes and takes a closer look at the historical mechanisms of oppression. It sums up the conflicts of our time in a specific way, sometimes provocatively and sometimes with a touch of humor.
One story about Catherine and her life as a woman in icy regions. Associated with the legendary church, she doesn’t have much room for her own life plans. Childcare is left to her without being able to convince her husband to do more. Because it only offers sprat fishing and ice hunting. Well, the well-known argument: a man is indispensable at work, part-time is absolutely impossible.
In addition to this female character, the fictional country in which you live is also told. It is called Fjoresund and its inhabitants face very real problems: as nomads, they found a new country in each new place. Everything depends on the floating ice on which they live – literally their livelihood: if it melts, the little ones have to move on. The form of government also depends on its size and the corresponding duration of residence: only if the glacier continues underground for a long time, will the time-consuming democracy become viable at all.
In another episode, Brensen addresses the subject of rape quite explicitly. The men in the village cannot control themselves and constantly attack the women who are considered the most beautiful in the world. Women’s long legs are “so beautiful” that men cannot resist them. The blame, of course, lies with the women and their very short squatters, which annoyed the indigenous males of the village.
The only thing that helps is covering the whole body
The solution: the so-called “full cloth”, which is a full body covering for women. And hey Presto guy is totally in tune with his reasoning again. Brenneisen plays consistently what it means to blame victim: Women are frequently blamed when they become victims of sexual assault. When they are allegedly showing a lot of skin because the skirt was too short.
Biographical references can also be seen in the graphic novel. Because Brensen also brings up the topic of stillbirth and thus her traumatic experience. After several stillbirths, Evil, labeled infertile, is expelled from her home village.
With her short blond hair, the character is reminiscent of Berensen herself and the heroine of her autobiographical comic book The Light That Empty the Shadows. In it, the comedian addresses a stillbirth and the painful time after it. For honest and poignant work, which is also graphically impressive, Brenneisen received the Berthold Leibinger Foundation’s Comic Book Award in 2017.
[Mehr über aktuelle feministische Comics in diesen Tagesspiegel–Beiträgen: Ausbruch aus der Schönheitsfalle, Grundkurs in Feminismus, Die vielen Gesichter des Feminismus.]
In “True Stories” her handling of the subject shows that she has regained more lightness. The protagonist’s wrath, whom I initially yelled at the face of the rock, finally leads to a major coup: the invention of the bow and arrow – albeit at the expense of the villagers.
In addition to the complexity that arises from the different levels of narrative and imaginative treatment of socially relevant topics, the comedian also impresses with her artistic expression. Each story follows a different and distinct color scheme. The strong coloring and special perspectives, also in the picturesque scenes, reveal a real allure.
Brenneisen also creates expressive and lively shapes with simple strokes. In particular, Marie Louise’s unique and changing face with her pointy mouth and huge glasses seems to say a lot.