Vigilante kills sexual predators in new graphic novel by Calgary author
By Robyn Welsh, Publishing Editor
This article discusses sexual assault and suicide.
Think back to when sending emails was the thing to do. A viral email went around claiming to contain prison interviews with charged sexual predators. The email was full of victim-blaming claims: these predators looked for women wearing short skirts and acting drunk. Author Hayley C. Gislason found this email in her inbox in grade 11.
“My first thought for whatever reason was: if I do these things, then in theory it would make the creeps come out of the woodworks,” she said. This is when she first got the inspiration for The Demons of Angels. After four years in the making, Gislason released a graphic novel is about the entrapment and murdering of sexual predators.
Another point of inspiration was the sheer number of times she would hear people threaten to kill sexual predators if they dared lay a finger on them or a loved one. Gislason says that while conversations regarding sexual assault have increased tremendously due to movements like #MeToo, there is still a long way for the conversation to go.
Gislason, while she does not condone violence and murder, said she drew inspiration for the protagonist, Karael, from herself over the years. Her struggles coming to terms with faith and sexuality are mirrored through Karael.
Being raised in a small, predominantly-white and conservative town in Saskatchewan, Gislason says that the mindest was completely different from that of Calgary. Gislason says that over the years her views on religion have changed substantially.
“Just because you were raised in one way of thinking doesn’t mean it’s necessarily the best one. So you have to really find what works for you. For me I found spirituality and that works for me, and I’m kind of pulled away from the catholic religion because in no way shape or form do I see […] being gay as being a sin.”
In the novel, the media refers to Karael as Bloody Mary, a vigilante who murders sexual predators out of belief that murder and rape should be held in equal regard.
The Demons of Angels touches on the magnitude of the problem of sexual assault while drawing inspiration from history. Fraternity and bro-culture are painted in a disgustingly accurate light.
Fifty per cent of proceeds for The Demons of Angels will be donated to local sexual assault support services and prevention programs. “The book is quite dark and it touches on issues that could be quite triggering so I wanted to do something to counter that by having some sort of support for survivors.”
Please note: several depictions of assault in the graphic novel are graphic and could be triggering to some readers.