by Pénélope Bagieu. First Second, March 2018. 198 p. ill. ISBN 9781626728691 (paperback), $17.99.
Reviewed June 2019
Olivia Piepmeier, Arts & Humanities Librarian, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, firstname.lastname@example.org
Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World is a collection of 30 short biographical comics. Each is about a woman who “did exactly what she wanted with her life” (196), including the author. This focus was inspired by something Bagieu’s mother said to her years ago and shaped her own life choices. The women featured in this book come from all over the world, from different time periods, and represent different sexualities and economic classes. While different races are represented, it’s worth noting that more than half of the women are white.
Each woman has anywhere between two to eight pages dedicated to her story, usually describing their early life and what events led them to rocking the world in their own ways. The art is typical of Bagieu - simple yet precise, detailed linework with blocky colors. The colors seem to be used to highlight the drawing versus color it, often with a color being used for one purpose (ex. hair color) on one page only to be different on the next page. This may seem disjointed but feels unifying. This is emphasized by her experimentation with the panels; sometimes they are formally blocked off with lines and sometimes they are blocked off with color (or lack of color).
This is an excellent fit for a collection that focuses on history, illustration, women and gender studies, and/or those that serve young adults.