Redrawing women’s later-in-life desires

Representations of ageing femininities, intimacies and the promise of happiness in graphic novels

This article explores representations of ageing femininities, sexuality and intimacy in graphic novels. Sara De Vuyst has analysed two graphic novels: ‘Bloesems in de herfst’ (Blossoms in Autumn, 2018) by Zidrou and Aimée De Jongh and ‘Bingo Love’ (2018) by Tee Franklin and Jen St-Onge. Comics and graphic novels are a form of popular culture that lend themselves well to the exploration of subversive ideas about older women and sexuality, as they are an important site for the exploration of feminist sexualities and ‘unruly’ intimacies. Moreover, with their typical formal structure based on panels, frames and sequences, they provide an ideal context for rethinking ideas about ageing and playing with alternative views on the passage of time. The study shows that some of this potential has been realised in graphic novels. Both offer a unique perspective on women’s intimacy in later life that is often invisible in mainstream representations. In some ways, however, the graphic novels reproduce stereotypes about ageing bodies and beauty.

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