Take it as a Compliment

Author(s): Maria Stoian

For Survivors | Graphic Novels

"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.

This collective graphic memoir tells real life stories of sexual abuse, violence and harassment and acts as a call to action for change.


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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'

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.

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."

General Fields

  • : 9781849056977
  • : Jessica Kingsley Publishers
  • : Jessica Kingsley Publishers
  • : November 2015
  • : United Kingdom
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Maria Stoian
  • : Hardback
  • : 362.880922
  • : 100
  • : Comic-style illustrations throughout