WE LADIES ARE OK ANA PENYAS Salamandra (Spain) | January 2018 | 112 Pages | Color
Foreign sales: France (Cambourakis) Winner of Premio Nacional del Cómic 2018 Winner of Premio Internacional de Novela Gráfica FnacSalamandra Graphic Autor Revelació del Saló Internacional del Còmic de Barcelona de 2018. 5 reprints, over 10,000 copies sold We Ladies Are OK tells about seventy years of quotidian struggles, silences, small and big acts of rebellion and resilience, thereby elegantly portraying the experience of many women. Ana Seyas uses the proximity and the universality of our elders’ experience to talk about who we are today.—Francisc Miró, El diario Maruja and Herminia, Spanish illustrator Ana Penyas’s grandmothers, are two widows well into their eighties. Both of them have spent most of their adult lives indoors, waiting for their husbands to come back from work, preparing food for their children, sweeping up floors, ironing out shirts and skirts, washing dishes so that the following day the rest of the family could go on about their day as usual. Maruja and Herminia are two lonely women whose sons, daughters, nephews, and nices live far away and who rarely visit them. Now that they are old, in need for assistance, and would have all the free time in the world to tell their life stories, nobody seems to be wanting to listen. That’s why Ana sets out to interview them—so that their experience of housewives in Francoist Spain would not be forgotten.
In the course of the interviews, as well as flashbacks that bring back the reader to the villages where Maruja and Herminia grew up and lived, a complex slice of life emerges. The oppressive routine, the claustrophobia of one’s home, the indifference of the children, the abuse of the husbands, the diktats of patriarchy— they are all there to take their toll on Maruja and Herminia. But Penyas’s goal is not to draw sympathy. Rather, to give two secondary characters—two women who, throughout their lives, have been referred to as someone else’s wife, someone else’s mother, someone else’s grandmother—the center stage. Thus, in the book, we discover for example why Maruja is such an obsessive-compulsive cooker; why Herminia, unlike Maruja, had always that way of acting so bohémien; or, how people would have sex in the Spain of the fifties.
A book dedicated to all “those exemplary Penelopes doomed to sewing, keeping quiet and waiting.” ANA PENYAS (1987) is an illustrator with degrees in Industrial Design and Fine Arts from the Universidad Politécnica de Valencia. In the past, she illustrated the book En transición (2017), which talks about the Spain's transition from dictatorship to democracy in the eighties, and Mexique, el nombre del barco (2017), which talks about the “niños de Morelia,” 456 children who left Spain in 1937 at the height of the Spanish Civil War and never came back.