In her first book of comic strips, French cartoonist Emma reflects on social and feminist issues by means of simple line drawings, dissecting the "mental load"—all that invisible and unpaid organizing, list-making, and planning—that so many women carry through daily life.
French cartoonist Emma raises issues of inequality within French society with humor and humanity, using short statements accompanied by disarmingly charming cartoons that point out the absurdities of some common social conventions and beliefs ... whether or not you are convinced by her arguments, at least after reading her work you will be aware of some assumptions behind the official version of how things are and you will be made aware that alternatives exist ... Reading Mental Load is rather like reading a chain of Twitter threads accompanied by illustrations. I mean that in the most positive way possible because I love Twitter threads ... Emma combines personal experience with the testimony of others, sometimes citing academic research as well. In her comics, based on matters that are likely to be in the public record, there's enough information for you to research the subject yourself, should you be so inclined.
The somewhat flat illustrations are simply drawn figures set against extensive white space, yet they convey a remarkable amount of information through body language and facial expressions. The intensity and universality of the issues can feel overwhelming, but the gravity is tempered somewhat by pointed humor. What is so clearly evident throughout is the physical and emotional toll extracted from women and people of color by societies that continue to value white men above all others. Timely and necessary.
Although Emma covers an impressive range of topics, her treatment is heavy on anecdote and opinion, light on in-depth analysis or factual information. The strongest section is the final chapter, 'The Holidays' a personal piece on childbirth and adapting to the stress of life with an infant; it manages to blend the personal and the political with precise, honest insights. Most of the book, however, feels underdeveloped, typical perhaps of a web-posted piece but not as well adapted to a larger print volume. That said, the timeliness of the book and its easy reading poise it to be a likely gift buy to mark feminist friendships.