Author: Aditi Gupta
Illustrator: Tuhin Paul
Published: 2015 by Whisper
No. of Pages: 88 pages
Genre: Social-awareness (Menstruation)
With the world engulfed in “#MeToo” cries and India talking about the Akshay Khanna and Sonam Kapoor starrer Padman, we are at a point in time where gender sensitization is being discussed in huge amounts. In this scenario, the importance of the comic, Menstrupedia, which was published in association with Whisper, becomes paramount. The story of the comic is assumed to take place around 2014 – the same year the first print of the book was out. Menstrupedia is primarily a trove of information on menstruation, packaged as a story which plays out through dialogues between four girls.
Menstrupedia does an excellent job in conveying its intended purpose – to create awareness and educate readers, especially young readers, about menstruation. The content is arranged in four parts – growing up, what are periods, when is my next period?, and taking care during periods. The structure of presentation and portrayal of story elements are done in a straightforward way aiding the comic’s mission of communicating information efficiently.
The first section - growing up - details the developments in the body that lead to puberty and periods while the second section elaborates on what the event of menstruation means and how it happens. Logistical issues like tracking the next period and dealing with premenstrual syndrome is tackled in section three whereas section four focuses on how to take care during menstruation and includes basic know how of a sanitary pad, its disposal and hygiene. Each of the sections dissipate information either in the form of answers to questions or anecdotes. While doing so the comic also touches upon taboos associated with menstruation and presents these issues with the aim of educating the reader about the fallacy of taboos in a light hearted manner. The book is also highly culturally sensitive making it relatable to readers in India.
The technical choices adopted in the comic make it an easy read. The characters wear the same outfits throughout the comic. This doesn’t confuse the reader who is in short of time or the child reader in keeping track of who is who. Also the narration on puberty and periods is assisted by several pictures. The choice of dashed bordered panels for anecdotes within the narration compared to solid line bordered panels for conversations between characters, helps in easy transitions between the conversations and anecdotes. Medical tips and other important information are appropriately highlighted. The comic majorly focuses on sanitary napkins as the commonly used method during periods even though menstrual cups and other sustainable options are beginning to gain importance in the market. But in a country where awareness of menstrual hygiene is dismally low, education on menstruation with sanitary napkins is a good starting point.
This book, being a comic, can be effortlessly read by the avid reader as well as someone averse to reading. Menstrupedia, thus earns the merit of being a book that should be read by every child entering adolescence.
Everything is conveyed through a direct comical style, no specific symbolism is used.