When "you on your period?" has grown into somewhat of an insult used on women getting heated or emotional, it takes a certain level of pluck to draw and publicly share comics about menstruation. But that's exactly what illustrator Andeasyand did.
Six years on, here she is with her first published comic on women's experiences with their period and menopause. We dig deep on the little details of A Drip. A Drop. A Deluge: A Period Tragicomedy, and chat with Andeasyand about taboo topics, etiquette, and the UX of periods.
Q: The comic has six stories, each about a different person's experiences. So what is the one thing you hope readers will take away from A Drip. A Drop. A Deluge, and what about readers who do not have menstruation?
A: I hope readers realise that people who bleed experience it differently and sometimes it is beyond our control. I think this applies to both readers who menstruate and those who do not.
Q: We notice the only colours used are varying shades of red and blue. What was the thought process behind this?
A: In the focus group that I had, we shared the common sentiment on the misrepresentation of periods in mass media. We remember ridiculous advertisements that had a scientist figure pouring blue watery fluid on a pad and that could not be further from the truth!
Difference Engine (publisher of A Drip. A Drop. A Deluge) and I did not want to shy away from the true colour of periods, that is - red. As the stories took shape, there was a tenderness to it, which the blues offered While we toyed with the use of additional colours, after some deliberation, I thought the colours may take the attention away from periods which affect bleeding people regardless of religion, race or skin colour.
Q: Complete this sentence: If readers pay close attention, they will realise...
A: ... there are bits of humour in between!
Q: What was the hardest part about working on A Drip. A Drop. A Deluge?
A: For a while it was challenging because periods are very internal experiences. I think the parts of periods that affect a person most are the in-betweens. I did not want to rely on the stereotype too much.
So I tried to get the experience out in the real world through textures, through every second by second. I gave the little moments the attention and weight they deserve. In the grand scheme of life, a drop of red on your pants is nothing, but in the moment, it may be everything.
Q: I also noticed little jokes or references in the background, such as the newspaper with the headline “Salty Honey Found” etc. Could you tell us a bit more about them — are they little Easter eggs you scatter around your illustrations?
A: Thank you for noticing! I enjoyed adding these eggs all over. I deeply love puns and I love watching movies that have me do a double take. It makes the world we live in doubly meaningful and I wanted A Drip. A Drop. A Deluge to be that too.
In addition, when I was discussing periods with women, it was not all grave and tragic. Laughs were had and truth be told, all that is tragic is often comical in a few years. And I hope, any reader gets to take something away with them.
"I think the parts of periods that affect a person most are the in-betweens...I gave the little moments the attention and weight they deserve"
Q: What was your creative process like while making this, and what were your inspirations?
A: The process of creating this book started with a focus group and talking to several women and some men about their period experiences. This was then complemented with fact-checking and research on period organisations.
I found much of my inspiration from Jillian Tamaki‘s illustrations and mid-century illustrations. I also turned to young adult fiction because they are so great at explaining complicated things in plain words.
Q: You’re clearly very comfortable talking about menstruation, and other taboo topics. What is the one thing you wish you could be more comfortable or confident talking about?
A: For a while, I hesitated about talking about my experiences surrounding mental health but I’ve seen how it helps people and that is very encouraging. I am still trying to balance the nuances of it. Sometimes I think I am in my head so much that I feel like I’ve shared a story too many times and people may be sick of it haha!
Perhaps one other topic is faith. It is often seen in black and white but there are so many shades to it. The lack of artefacts for it also makes it hard to describe. With that also comes self-censorship. As a hijab-wearing woman, i find myself being careful with what I illustrate and share lest it is misconceived. This actually led to an avatar of the Bikini Girl that i had going on for a while.
An illustration of Bikini Girl
Q: What are your thoughts on people saying “You on your period?” when someone is being moody or irritable?
A: My default answer is now, “Yo, that’s not cool.” After living with a man, I think it heavily depends on the tone of the person saying it. Often it comes across as offensive because the other person tends to suggest that because I am on my period, I should know better and therefore should behave better, which I think is a problem of being born a woman?
On the other hand, I have a partner and some friends who would offer, “Is your period here?” as an opportunity for introspection and to cut some slack because truth be told, the hormonal fluctuations are beyond our control.
Q: We understand you’re a UX designer. From that perspective, what would be something you’d design/invent or improve, in relation to menstruation or menopause?
A: There are a lot of period apps out there and they’ve helped me with my periods, but there is still education and understanding required on how periods are different for different people.
I think the nature of an algorithm is that it taps on the regular submission of data so that it can serve you, but it differs for people. Given the opportunity, I would look into data for people with endometriosis or even menopause and see how we can provide information or data that helps. The truth is, an app would not solve a problem like education would, and I hope that is an area I can contribute to.