Draw the Line Offers Inspiration with Broad Strokes

Draw the Line

Various creators, Myfanwy Tristram (editor)

Draw the Line is an anthology webcomic, in which “over 100 comic(s) artists present positive political actions anyone can take.” It recently won the Broken Frontier Award for best Web Comic in 2017, and it does indeed offer a wide array of positive actions aimed at a variety of people. Gathered into a couple dozen categories, links to lists of “actions that cost nothing,” “actions you can take if you’re a coder,” and “actions kids can take” are right next to links to lists of “actions that fight homelessness or help the homeless,” “actions that support minorities,” and “actions that help women.” You can browse by your own proclivities (I want something I can do from home with my kid!) or by the specific causes about which you are passionate. Click on any of these links, and you’ll see a list composed of beautiful individual themed artworks (most of which are not comics) by Draw the Line’s impressive roster of artists, each with a title advocating an action and a caption explaining it. A separate page of “Links to find out more” keeps the lists streamlined, and the focus on the art.

My personal preference is for the specific, and therefore my favorite entries were those that taught me about initiatives or organizations in other parts of the world that I didn’t know about already. I was glad to learn about the international “Wall of Kindness” phenomenon from Jaime Huxtable’s art, for instance and thrilled to learn about the Raging Grannies, [http://raginggrannies.org/] who save the world through filking. They have a song about protecting Planned Parenthood sung to the tune of Battle Hymn of the Republic and that, my friends, is what I like. And I love Rachael Ball’s artwork for that one, which reminds me cozily of Victorian political cartoons.

Raging Grannies, Rachael Ball, 2017

Frankly, not all of the actions advocated on Draw the Line are that well-informed or specific. Many of them function more like beautiful reminders of priorities rather than instructions on how to practically participate in making change. Lucy Knisley’s admonition to shop local, for instance, has an adorable illustration in her signature style, and encouraging words in the caption and links about some of the benefits of buying local, but not tips for how to switch your spending pattern to include local merchants if you are entrenched in Amazon Prime. Similarly, another artist’s admonition to start a petition is captioned with the phrase “Starting your own petition is really easy,” but doesn’t include or link to instructions for researching existing petitions or phrasing yours effectively. And annoyingly, a lot of the actions show up on multiple lists, which means that if you want to see everything (I always want to see everything) you’ll be seeing some things repeatedly.

As is true with many anthology projects, you’ll need to wade through a lot of reeds to find the gems that will inspire you, which will be extremely individual to what you, personally, are looking for. Since so many different artists are involved, there will be something for everyone, but also a lot that doesn’t appeal. The definitions of the words “political” and “action” vary from entry to entry almost as much as the art style does. Some of the actions advocated will not be appropriate for your situation, especially if you are not in the United Kingdom, where the administrative team for the project is based.

Overall, though, most of the entries in Draw the Line are reminders to do things like buy local, sign up for your electeds’ newsletters, listen when people talk, etc. Therefore, instead of sparking an idea or offering a blueprint about what action you might take to feel better about the world, the vast majority of these illustrations instead will function best as inspirational visual reminders of your existing priorities. That’s a good function! It is just not the one I thought I was going to see.

Emily Lauer

Emily Lauer

Emily Lauer lives in Manhattan with her husband, daughter and dog. She teaches writing and literature at Suffolk County Community College where she studies comics, kids' books, adaptations and visual culture. She is a former Pubwatch Editor for WWAC, and frankly, there is a lot more gray in her hair than there was when this profile picture was taken.