Title: Radium Girls
Release Date: 23 August 2022
Letter Better Publishing Services, Iron Circus Comics
It’s 1918 in Orange, New Jersey, and everyone knows the “Ghost Girls.”
The proud holders of well-paying jobs at the local watch factory, these working-class young women gain their nickname from the fine dusting of glowing, radioactive powder that clings to their clothes after every shift painting watch dials. The soft, greenish glow even stains their lips and tongues, which they use to point the fine brushes used in their work. It’s perfectly harmless . . . or so claims the watch manufacturer.
When teeth start falling out, followed by jawbones, the dial painters become the unprepared vanguard on the frontlines of the burgeoning workers’ rights movement. Desperate for compensation and acknowledgement from the company that has doomed them, the Ghost Girls must fight, not just for their own lives but the future of every woman to follow them.
A stunning graphic novel retelling of the shocking and inspiring true story.
This graphic novel did a good job of giving an inside look into the lives of “Radium Girls,” a group of women in the early 1900s that were instructed to point the tip of their paintbrushes with their mouth when painting dials, thus leading to radiation poisoning.
It is very grim to read about the working conditions women had to endure, and it’s very frustrating that they were lied to about the inks, being told they were harmless and not to worry about applying the brush to their lips.
The illustrations within are fairly simple and I think that allows the story to make quite a big impact. There are two colours used, greens and purples. I’m not sure I am a fan of the used of coloured pencils, and think perhaps the illustrations would have looked even better had the crayons been blended together. As is, the colouring looks a bit unfinished/unpolished but I still overall enjoyed the illustration style.
I recommend this to anyone who is interested in learning more about this topic. Before reading this book, I didn’t know that these events happened and I feel like I learned quite a lot about both the events that took place and the importance of having conditions in place that protects workers from these sorts of occupational hazards in the future.
Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for providing an e-ARC in exchange for a review copy. The expected release date is August 23rd 2022.
- Educational: reviews the lives of working-class young women who suffered radiation poisoning from painting dials on watches with self-luminous paint.
- Fighting for compensation/acknowledgement from the watch manufacturer company.
- Occupational hazards in the workplace.
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