Title: Not Funny Ha-Ha: A Handbook for Something Hard
Author & Illustrator: Leah Hayes
Publisher: Fantagraphics Books
Publication date: 11 August 2015
Genre: Comic / Graphic novel
Fitting into the growing genre of graphic medicine, this graphic novel is a window into the lives of two women who both decide to have abortions. It describes the practical decisions they have to make, such as choosing a clinic and deciding who to tell, and explains the physical procedures of both a medical and surgical abortion.
The straightforward, non-judgemental nature of this book is what makes it work. Its focus it very much on the practicalities, which can be both difficult and unknown, rather than the reasons why the women decide to have abortions. Whereas other literature on the subject is obscured by the moral and political arguments, Leah Hayes succeeds in avoiding these debates and provides straightforward, practical information on a subject that is rarely talked about openly.
The book doesn’t sensationalise the women’s experiences, but recognises the physical and emotional impact abortion has on them. The illustrations are simple and sensitive, and the colour pink is used subtly throughout to reflect how the women are feeling.
While its intention is to help girls and women who find themselves in this position to make good decisions for themselves and to feel less alone, I think everyone should read this book. Even if you think this is something you will never have to experience or consider, it encourages vital empathy and understanding. Please do not be put off by the (arguably insensitive) title, it has no relevance to the content.