Aminder Dhaliwal received her Bachelors of Animation from Sheridan College in Toronto. She then moved to Los Angeles where she served as a storyboard director at both the Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon. She is currently a director at Disney TV Animation. Her debut graphic novel, Woman World (Drawn & Quarterly, $24.95), began as a biweekly Instagram comic in 2017 that now has more than 120,000 followers.
What inspired you to write Woman World?
I was going through a dark place, personally. In late 2016, I had just finished making a pilot at Nickelodeon, and it was passed on. The pilot felt like it had gotten away from me. I was upset that it had been passed on, but I think I was more upset that my voice had gotten lost. I decided that I would take a break from television and work on comics just to reestablish my voice--even just to remember what my humor was.
Eventually, three or four months later, I went to the Women's March with a couple of friends and we all made signs. I saw all of the "The Future Is Female" signs and thought it would be pretty funny if that was true. Later that day, friends were posting their signs from the Women's March. A lot of those friends are webcomics people, so they have large followings. There was a backlash, asking why we marched. And I was just like, I'm going to make this comment. It will be for me, like all the other commentators had been making. I text-messaged my friends and sent them the first one, and they're like, yeah, go for it. And then it was, wow... it's resonating with people. That's really cool.
In mythology, Gaia is the Mother of Earth and Giver of Life. In this book she walks around in the nude except for one panel. Was that a conscious choice? Was there any hidden meaning behind that?
So there is quite a lot of backstory to the worldbuilding which isn't actually in the comic themselves, but it was good for me to know. It was 2017, and there was a lot going on in the world. I decided that politicians in this world are all nudists because they believe that in order to be a politician or a government official you need to believe in the naked truth--transparency. So they're all nudists. That's the starting point, and it's worked out for me. There has to be some humility and humbleness to be in that spotlight, in a powerful position. She's [Gaia] the mayor and also being slightly vulnerable. That was something I liked.
In the book, women are self-sufficient. They know what they want. They're doing all the male and female jobs. Yet there's this yearning from Emiko, the young girl. She wonders what man was like. Emiko's grandma skirts around the questions with jokes. Do you think a world based solely on females could, or would, survive?
I never wanted to make a comic that was man-hating. If man really died, we wouldn't all be celebrating. A lot of people jump to that joke. But it would be really awful, really sad.
There's a yearning there, just the same way I currently yearn to see a real dinosaur. There's a reason Jurassic Park is a movie. On the scientific side, they haven't been able to do it yet. With certain animals they have been able to take female bone marrow and create female sperm. Women could become asexual creatures and reproduce on their own. So it is actually possible. But I don't have my characters worrying too often about reproduction because in their world, they have something else for that option.
In your world, you have Her-story set apart from His-story. If we talk about general history, it is usually from the male perspective. So what does Her-story look like in this accidentally utopian world?
I don't know if I could answer that because in this world, there has been this destruction that destroyed a lot of the records, so they no longer have that male perspective on a lot of things that happened. I want to hope that it's a kind view back on things that happened, one that comes from a place of understanding.
Is there a sequel to Woman World in the works?
I'm already making the new comics now. There is a whole other version I'm working on. It's a little more of an arching story. I do have an alternate version which I would like to work on and which one day I can put out as well. --Nancy Powell, freelance writer and technical consultant