6 funny, painfully honest comics about periods that tell it like it is.

Periods are a bloody mess, both literally and figuratively.

After all, part of the body is actually shedding itself. It's uncomfortable, sometimes painful, and often annoying. But for women, it's just life; billions of us deal with it on the regular.

And yet, discussing menstruation is still often considered taboo, impolite, or just plain gross. And this lack of open, honest conversation can cost people with periods a lot of money every single day.


In most states, pads, tampons, and cups are taxed like luxuries and not necessities. Eyebrow-raising myths, jokes, and stereotypes about pre-menstrual syndrome and menstruation continue to circulate. The big brands don't even show or mention period blood in commercials for products used to catch and absorb period blood. The shame associated with menstruation is, well, shameful.

Photo by iStock.

That's why Lily Williams and Karen Schneemann decided to spread some period-positivity with their weekly webcomic.

Williams, 24, and Schneemann, 35, met in art school and quickly became friends. Both have had a few frustrating and stressful experiences related to women's health issues. While the women knew they weren't the only ones, they also knew so something needed to be done.

"As we talked about it, we realized that we both felt that more information needs to be available and that periods are something that needs to be talked about more openly to de-stigmatize the whole conversation around women’s reproductive health," Schneemann writes in an e-mail interview.

Copyright "The Mean Magenta." All rights reserved.

The duo started publishing "The Mean Magenta" online in the summer of 2016. It's a heartfelt, funny, and delightfully honest portrayal of modern menstruation that features four characters, each with their own period ups and downs. Schneemann and Williams didn't schedule an official launch or lavish marketing blitz, so their fanbase has grown organically. Why does it work? Because, finally, there's a digital space to laugh, joke, and commiserate about having a period.

"What has been really cool has been seeing people warm up to it all. I have loved discussing our comic in person with people and almost always the first reaction is confusion or disgust but once I finish explaining, or they follow along online for a few weeks, they are also excited by 'The Mean Magenta' in the end," Williams writes in an e-mail interview. "That’s the point, right? Discussing periods openly makes the unknown more normalized."

There's a comic for every menstruation moment. Here are six of my favorites.

1. You never forget your first period, even if you'd prefer not to.

Copyright "The Mean Magenta." All rights reserved.

2. Before long, you prepare for each one like you're packing for a camping trip. ("Better safe than sorry.")

Copyright "The Mean Magenta." All rights reserved.

3. Which often leads to a little something accidentally tumbling out of your purse. It happens.

Copyright "The Mean Magenta." All rights reserved.

4. Periods are often uncomfortable. But most days, you just have to grin and bear it.

Copyright "The Mean Magenta." All rights reserved.

5. Even when you can stretch out, it doesn't mean you can find relief.

Copyright "The Mean Magenta." All rights reserved.

6. But no matter your experience, just remember you're not alone.

Copyright "The Mean Magenta." All rights reserved.

Whether or not you menstruate, you can do your part to be period-positive.

Don't shut down or shy away from conversations about periods. This comic shows that we need period-positive people now more than ever.

"Period positive people come in all shapes and sizes with all different temperaments. Take care of yourself, speak out in the way you can, and do not compare yourself to others in your learning process," Lily writes. "Someone may be out there spreading period positivity by shouting from the rooftops, others may be getting legislation passed, or making art with their blood. However, it is OK if your form of period positivity is discussing menstruation for the first time with a friend, or wearing a uterus pin in public. Period positive warriors come from all walks of life and every single one is important."

You can be a period-positive warrior without a tampon bazooka, but it doesn't hurt. Image by iStock.

Looking for other ways to help? Buy a box of pads or tampons to donate to a local homeless shelter. Talk to your elected officials about lifting the "tampon tax" and keeping birth control free and readily available. (It can do wonders for people with painful or inconsistent periods.) Or just be a friendly ear, a safe person to have open, honest conversations with.

"I think Lily and I both hope that our comic helps people to feel a little less alone," Schneemann writes. "We’re all in this together."

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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Simon & Garfunkel's song "Bridge Over Troubled Water" has been covered by more than 50 different musical artists, from Aretha Franklin to Elvis Presley to Willie Nelson. It's a timeless classic that taps into the universal struggle of feeling down and the comfort of having someone to lift us up. It's beloved for its soothing melody and cathartic lyrics, and after a year of pandemic challenges, it's perhaps more poignant now than ever.

A few years a go, American singer-songwriter Yebba Smith shared a solo a capella version of a part of "Bridge Over Troubled Water," in which she just casually sits and sings it on a bed. It's an impressive rendition on its own, highlighting Yebba's soulful, effortless voice.

But British singer Jacob Collier recently added his own layered harmony tracks to it, taking the performance to a whole other level.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less