One of the greatest strengths of comics as a form is its ability to communicate experiences with a profound eloquence in an often concise and deceptively minimalist way. Huda Fahmy’s Yes, I’m Hot in This: The Hilarious Truth about Life in a Hijab is a collection I discovered when looking for more titles to include in our Comics and Islam resource list at Broken Frontier. Fahmy has gone on to produce a number of other autobio books which we will look to cover in the coming months at BF but today we will start at an earlier part of her comics practice.
Yes, I’m Hot in This sees Fahmy largely using something of a traditional newspaper strip-style format of set-up, build-up and punchline, alongside shorter observational humour to communicate her experiences of life as a Muslim American woman. There are the misconceptions about Muslim life that readers will no doubt expect to see explored here but they sit side by side with some beautifully paced gags. Replying to a small child asking why she’s dressed all in black with the retort “Cuz I’m Batman” or a wonderful diagrammatic joke about what’s really under her hijab, which includes sweat wipers and theft-deterring snakes among other things.
The strength of Fahmy’s storytelling is that her strips can be cutting and to the point but are often framed with either such a gentle wit or with a world-weary resignation that they become all the more endearing for it. And yet, of course, there’s also the constant reminder of the prejudice she faces as a woman in a Hijab which she does not shirk from depicting. It’s this combination of the comedic and stark reality that ensures Yes, I’m Hot in This forges such a close link between reader and page. Muslim experiences at airports, facing constant microaggressions, family expectations, moments of solidarity, and the ever present question of “But where are you really from?” are just some of the experiences explored herein.
While Yes, I’m Hot in This is a little older than the titles we usually review at Broken Frontier our growing commitment to building up our socially relevant comics resource lists (a number of them are listed further down this article) ensures it’s a vital collection to give space to here. We will be returning Huda Fahmy’s practice again in the weeks to come.
Huda Fahmy (W/A) • Adams Media, £9.99
Review by Andy Oliver