What does Belle Starr, Rosa Parks, and Ma Barker have in common? In “Tuff Ladies,” a new work in comics by Till Lukat, they are part of his kaleidoscopic tour of women in history. This is a most unusual book and quite a page-turner. Lukat has assembled 24 portraits of significant women. He calls his choices “remarkable” but, perhaps “colorful” is a better catch-all word. Or maybe “provocative.” It’s a fascinating collection.
There is certainly a subversive sensibility at play here. It’s not so much that Lukat is glorifying each and every woman he’s profiled. It’s more like he’s presenting each figure as a compelling character from fiction. Each woman here is depicted in Lukat’s energetic woodcut-like style. Each profile has its own crazy urgency: a bold portrait followed by a brief comic strip and topped off with some brief text.
The most controversial inclusion is Ulrike Meinhof of the Baader-Meinhof Gang, a left-wing terrorist group that committed several murders, kidnappings, bank robberies, and bomb attacks. The overall theme is that all these women made a huge impact. Not all of them are well-known. In fact, Lukat pretty much avoids obvious choices. One of the more poignant ones is for Miep Gies. Thanks to her, the Diary of Anne Frank was kept safe from the Nazis to go on to be known throughout the world.
This book is a treat. It’s a perfect gateway for further exploration. It’s odd, artful, and most refreshing.
“Tuff Ladies” is a 64-page hardcover published by Centrala. For some of the most unique works in comics, visit our friends at Centrala right here.