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Don’t Tell Me to Smile

Comic, Dana Kearley,,, $5

I don’t know what it is about summer (maybe it’s the pollen, maybe it’s the 99 cent fountain drinks, maybe it’s the way my face and body are not wrapped in layers of down, wool and Gortex) but every year around this time, I start to hear from strange men who have suggestions about what I should be doing or not doing. It happens other times of the year, too, but there is something about summer that makes every rando with a mouth decide he needs to interrupt my day to share his opinion of my appearance or behaviour. One of the most frequent and most annoying suggestions is that I smile. If I’m in an environment where it feels safe to do so, my most frequent response is, “Go fuck yourself.” I ran out of patience for this shit 20 years ago, which might be why I’m much more aggressively direct than the women in Dana’s comic.

Read an excerpt from Don’t Tell Me to Smile

There are women with a thousand eyes who say, “Go away,” and tug their mouths wide with middle fingers, “Smiling 4 U,” as something dark and oozing drips from the corners. The people in the collection of single-panel comics are rendered in crisp line draw-ings with stark captions and I love Dana’s understated yet intricate drawing style. My favourite was a hand with long dark fingernails clutching a hot dog with the words, “If you sexualize my veggie dog, I will squirt you with ketchup.” Bless you, Dana, I’ll never feel weird about eating a hot dog or banana in public again as long as I have condiment packets at the ready. (Mary Green)