Take It as a Compliment

Take It as a Compliment

4.29 (931 ratings by Goodreads)
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Gold medal winner in the 'Independent Spirit' category of the Independent Publishers Outstanding Book of the Year Awards 2016

"I was fifteen."
"I never saw him again."
"They chanted after me, 'Oscar the Grouch, Oscar the Grouch."

Bringing together the voices of males and females of all ages, the stories in this collective graphic memoir reflect real life experiences of sexual abuse, violence and harassment.

Each experience is brought to life by Maria Stoian's exceptional artwork. Her unique and varied styles powerfully reflect the tone and mood of the different stories and in just a few pages express the complex emotions felt by victims of sexual abuse.

Covering acts such as sexual violence, public sexual harassment, domestic abuse and child abuse, this is a reminder for survivors that they are not alone and a call for all of us to take action. The stories clearly show that assault of any type is not an honour bestowed on anyone. It is not a compliment.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 100 pages
  • 207 x 261 x 15mm | 558g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Comic-style illustrations throughout
  • 1849056978
  • 9781849056977
  • 224,764

Table of contents

1. "I was fifteen." 2. "I didn't go outside for weeks." 3. "The feelings of betrayal, guilt and self-hate cannot be described in existing words." 4. "I still wonder how I got there from ice-cream and pizza pops." 5. "I have never told so many strangers not to touch me as I did in Times Square." 6. "I was at a bus stop in Edinburgh." 7. "I was terrified and did all of these things I was too young to comprehend for fear of being yelled at." 8. "Maybe I am too nice." 9. "I never saw him again." 10. "I have no idea what could have happened if any of those things hadn't been in my favour that night." 11. "Something like this, you just don't forget. It lingers and kills you slowly, until you learn to move on." 12. "A little bird told me he didn't see what the big deal was." 13. "It's hard to describe the stare, you'd best understand it by how I felt: disgusted." 14. "They chanted after me, 'Oscar the Grouch, Oscar the Grouch...'" 15. "I don't know how old I was, but I was pre-pubescent." 16. "I didn't have any more words; I was too angry and too shocked all at once." 17. "I hope he listened." 18. "I chose a desk in the opposite corner from the door, hidden behind cubicle walls, in hopes I'd have privacy and she wouldn't find me. But she did." 19. "It's one thing to be harassed by guys in the street, but this was different." 20. "I just laid there on the ground beside my bed, numb, for a very long time."
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Review quote

What is present in every story is the lingering shame, loneliness and helplessness of its subject. Some of them are able to stand up for themselves, others aren't sure that their discomfort is valid, but all are given respect by Stoian in her attempt to raise awareness of aggressive behaviour that is often considered a societal norm (...) while her creative and varied illustrations are essential additions to the tone and power of the compilation, it is language that is Stoian's most significant achievement in this project. By having each story told by the person who survived it, she has conceived a method to talk about the effects of abuse, giving a voice to individuals that may have never had the opportunity to share their experience before (...) Take It as a Compliment is the furthest thing from a light read as it's possible to be, but its controversial content, whilst harrowing, it never off-putting. With composition as beautiful as the stories are ugly, the book challenges the reader to support social change through recognition and acceptance of what constitutes sexual harassment and abuse. The collection is an important step in reducing the amount of stories there are to tell. -- Steff Humm * Ink Magazine * Unfortunately, it's probably happened to all of us...Stoian's book clearly demonstrates exactly what law enforcement agencies the world over are now learning - that this kind of behaviour does not exist in isolation, but in dialogue with other types of abuse...reading about sexual harassment and assault is not meant to be a cushy, comfortable experience. Stoian's bold, honest illusions of each separate testimony are uncomfortable individually, but put together and read in one go they are profoundly unsettling. To my mind, this is the greatest success of this book - it is like being hit over the head repeatedly with stories of violence, harassment and stalking that are happening every day to all kinds of people and forced to take notice. -- Harriet Earle * Comics Forum * This work is exactly the right sort of material to bring the discussion regarding sexual consent and respect for others, in all its facets, into the light of the mainstream, where it needs to be, for people to be educated about their actions in this sphere and the consequences they will have on others. But above and beyond that worthy fact, it is also a gripping collection of biographical comics brilliantly illustrated which I found fascinating to read. -- Mental Health Today Take it as a Compliment is the furthest thing from a light read as it's possible to be, but its controversial content, while harrowing, is never off-putting. With composition as beautiful as the stories are ugly, the book challenges the reader to support social change through recognition and acceptance of what constitutes sexual harassment and abuse. The collection is an important step in reducing the amount of stories there are to tell. -- Bad Cantina blog Wow.
I had an idea what this graphic novel would be about based on the title, which is what caught my attention to begin with, but I was not prepared for how much this would take my breath away. It was eye opening to see all the different experiences told so openly and factually. -- Just a Lil' Lost blog I would wholeheartedly recommend this book to everyone. I also think it could be quite educational, as it brings to life several situations that some are thought to overreact about, but that really is a form of harassment or abuse. It also informs you that you're not alone. -- The Book Castle blog These twenty true stories of sexual harassment, abuse, and assault illustrated in comics form by Stoian are haunting, infuriating, and, while sadly all-too-familiar, powerful testaments of survival. In her graphic novel debut, illustrator Stoian is an art chameleon, adapting her style and use of color to each story. In the tale of a young girl groped on the subway, passengers are in plain black-and-white, while the hands reaching for her are rendered in nauseous greens and oranges. Stark black lines give way to sketchy pencils in a story of betrayal, and garish blocks of color depict a wordless story where the potential for danger looms as frighteningly as in any horror movie. Stories from women and men, submitted anonymously online or told to Stoian in interviews, reveal the many ways predators-strangers, friends, and intimate partners alike-take advantage of others' vulnerabilities. Included at the end is a guide to how to support survivors, get help as a survivor, and spot and intervene in instances of harassment or abuse. Eye-opening and lyrical. -- Publishers Weekly To put it plainly, it is a voice for the voiceless and one of the most important works in comics this year. ...I can't say it enough just how powerful this comic is. Would it work in another medium? Probably, but there's just something about it as a comic book that really gets the story out there in an impactful way. This may not be your typical comic book purchase, but it's definitely one that everyone, even non-comic readers, should check out. Score: 5/5 -- Comic Bastards Take It As A Compliment is a remarkable and moving collection of beautifully illustrated stories portraying the painful and lasting impact of everyday sexual abuse. Maria Stoian reveals herself to be a deft and inventive comic artist. Her colours are beautiful but also poignant, as she draws the lingering shadow of an unwanted touch. Take It As A Compliment is a very welcome and important contribution to the world of comics. -- Sarah Lightman, artist, co-founder of Laydeez do Comics, and editor of the multi-award winning 'Graphic Details: Jewish Women's Confessional Comics in Essays and Interviews'
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About Maria Stoian

Maria Stoian is a graphic designer and illustrator based in Scotland. She is interested in the way illustration and games can be a non-aggressive way of encouraging people to recognise when they might be biased. Take It As A Compliment was Maria's Master's project at Edinburgh College of Art.
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Rating details

931 ratings
4.29 out of 5 stars
5 44% (405)
4 45% (416)
3 10% (94)
2 1% (13)
1 0% (3)
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