Stand in your Power by Rachel Smith
Published May 2019 by Rachel Smith
“I wanted to stay in that bed forever…I really don’t know how I’m going to get through today…let alone the rest of my life.”
Stand in Your Power is a collection of autobio comic strips that comic-creator extraordinaire Rachael Smith made after going through a breakup and attempting to get on with her new, single life. The comics deal with loneliness, figuring out who you are, moving on, dating, friendship, depression, love, and many other super-relatable things.
I first came across Rachael while wandering the isles of MCM Comic Con a few years back now I think and I was having trouble dealing with a lot of the crowds so I made my way over to the comic village (which has since become my absolute favourite part of London MCM) where it was a little quieter and I remember seeing a stall that had comics and the main thing that drew my eye, pin badges with a cute grey kitty that said “you got this” and I went to take a closer look and picked up a copy of “Flimsy’s Guide to Modern Living” and it was about Flimsy the cat that I’d seen on the pin badge just trying to get through life even when things didn’t feel great, it was full of cute and really great affirmations for things like, “Decide every morning that you are in a good mood” and my personal favourite, “Feeling sad? OMG eat cheesecake.” It was fun and silly and Rachael signed my book (because obviously, I brought it) and was lovely to chat too which helped me feel less enclosed by the crowds and really helped. I’m feeling so honoured to have received a copy of her newest book “Stand in your Power” to review! The first thing that always stands out to me with all of Rachael’s work is her distinct, emotive art style and use of a big, bold yet warm colour palette, it’s utterly eye-grabbing and inviting and Stand in your Power is no exception. On the cover, I especially love the spotlight over Rachael and the two dark creatures that symbolise her depression etc surrounding her. This graphic novel is also in full colour and the colour really gives the artwork an extra zing, it’s an absolute treat for the eyes. I feel like the clean, almost simplistic style makes every scene feel comfortable and easy to read as well. This panel is one of my absolute favourites.
Stand in your Power doesn’t follow what I would call a strict story, instead, it consists of different moments and realisations throughout the breakup and recovery with Rachael’s overarching narrative tying it all together so that it doesn’t feel like some comic strips just thrown together and it really works, it’s enjoyable and it feels like a journey you go on with Rachael. The art and writing are very emotive and highly relatable whether you’ve been in a similar situation or not, there are experiences with mental health and depression, break ups, moving house, dating, friendships, finding yourself and honestly just being an adult which is much harder than the more adultier adults give us credit for. Trigger Warning for self-harm but Rachael has approached this brilliantly and not only given a warning but also colour coded the pages so it can easily be skipped over if needed. There are some really fantastic moments throughout Stand in your Power, and I nearly cried a few times at the kindness of Rachael’s supportive friends (Heather and the advent calendar especially!) I also found this trick remembering to take your meds stupidly helpul, this is actually something I’ve actually done since and let me tell you Jiji is not a forgetful cat.
Stand in your Power is available in softcover now and you can buy it at Rachael’s Etsy store here as well as her other books! Rachael Smith’s debut graphic novel House Party came out in 2014 with Great Beast Comics to critical acclaim. The Rabbit, released by Avery Hill Publishing in 2015, is her second graphic novel and was nominated for Best Book in the British Comic Awards 2014/15. Rachael is also the creator of Flimsy the Kitten and One Good Thing, Wired up Wrong, House Party and more including Stand in your Power. She is also currently running a funding campaign via Unbound.com for her next book Isabella and Blowden which you can check out here.