Broad Appeal
by various artists & writers
(Friends of Lulu, 2002)

"Womens is frickle," says Popeye, and he is right. But the one-eyed sailor doesn't generalize enough. Women are also intelligent, kind, loving, loyal, industrious, nurturing, and social -- very, very social.

Broad Appeal is a paperback anthology, a social gathering of words and art about the lives and thoughts of women. It is published by the Friends of Lulu, a "national not-for-profit organization dedicated to promoting the works of female cartoonists and involving more women in the readership of comics." That is a worthy mission but one with an inherent problem that, when reversed, leaves women yelling at men. Despite a cover blurb that reads "An Anthology ... for Everyone," everyone may buy, but only women cartoonists are allowed inside.

Friends for Lulu is a discriminatory organization. A discussion on equality must wait for another time.

A discussion of style, however, is appropriate here, but difficult. Why? The word "broad" can be an insulting comment on a woman's anatomy or mean "wide, full, complete." Broad Appeal is stylistically wide and full. The art in each one-to-four page piece ranges from a minimalistic doodle to a polished, realistic style. Overall, it looks like a '60s underground comic book, and no one will either like or hate every style represented.

Its content is what will separate the men from the boys from this title. Don't expect much adventure in the broadest (sorry, I couldn't resist) sense of the term. A tiny sliver of the superhero, SF and fantasy genres does little to diminish a huge pie about female relationships.

This is a chick flick on paper.

But wise men know that unless you understand the gender, you will never enjoy the fruits of the list that began this review. And that list is far from complete.

Broad Appeal is recommended for women of all ages, and for men with the courage to want to understand women of all ages.

- Rambles
written by Michael Vance
published 5 June 2004