It's a handbook for something hard, artist Leah Hayes writes on Kickstarter. It's a "very special illustrated book," she adds. It's a "graphic novel illustrating the lives of two young women who decide to have a certain procedure," she continues on her Twitter page.
Even the title, "Not Funny Ha-Ha," is somewhat vague, grabbing our attention because we feel like we might know this story. The last description alone is enough of a hint: Hayes' self-published graphic novel is about two women dealing with two different abortions. Illustrated in subtle, monochromatic imagery, the story begins with a decision to have an abortion and follows the characters as they deal with the personal, cultural, familial and financial "aftermath."
"NOT FUNNY HA-HA does not address the events leading up to the pregnancy, or even the decision-making before choosing abortion as an option," Hayes writes. "It simply shows (with an understanding wink) what happens when a woman GOES THROUGH IT, no questions asked."
With the release of Jenny Slate's abortion rom-com "Obvious Child" has come another wave of reinvigorated dialogue surrounding a woman's right to choose. And this time, it's happening in a sphere more familiar and casual to the average person -- the world of pop culture. Hayes' book seems to be aiming for a similar spark.
"The main thing for me is that I don't really want to offer this graphic novel as a political stance on abortion," Hayes explained to HuffPost. "I have my feelings about it, obviously, but that was not my intention. In fact I make a point to start the book where the girls find out that they are pregnant, and I don't address how or where or why. It doesn't matter in this book. I wanted to illustrate JUST that time, from when you make an appointment to when you are 'done' and going back to every day life. A lot happens during that period of time that is not political, just doing what you need to do, and dealing with the emotional ups and downs of having surgery."
Hayes has worked as an illustrator for publications like The New York Times and The New Yorker, and taught illustration at Parsons School of Design. Having written two books for Fantagraphics already, this particular project was inspired by her own experiences, watching her friends face hesitations and repercussions surrounding abortion. "I also wanted to write something that a friend/partner/sister/mother/whatever could give a woman that she is close to, to help her feel better," she added.
"Not Funny Ha-Ha" hopes to raise $20,000 before July 3. Those funds will go to printing the book, distributing the work to independent bookstores and conducting a small book tour across major cities. Head over to the campaign's homepage to learn more, and check out Hayes' Twitter for a deeper preview of the books' illustrations.