Laydeez Do Comics London, November 2013

Hi! My name is Ingrid Brubaker and I was kindly invited to act as guest blogger on the Laydeez Do Comics event on the evening of 13 November, 2013. A bit about myself for starters: I am currently undertaking my MA studies in International Journalism at City University London. In practical terms that means that this blog post will be a chunk of text sprinkled with illustrious words rather than drawings or photos, as I don’t really draw that much.

As for comics, I have been an avid reader of them since I was a kid (especially Calvin and Hobbes) but got more and more into them in my teens. Not that many years ago, really. But I’ve read my fair share and I also worked a few years in a comic book library in my native Oslo, Norway. I am also on the board of a nice little comic art festival in the same city, which you can check out here if you’d like! Oh and I have a blog myself. It is here.

So, Monday night at Foyles. You would think the concept of the Laydeez Do Comics project is good enough for having a great time – friendly people getting together in a bookstore gallery listening to artists who talk and explain their work for the audience – but no: Sarah Lightman and Nicola Streeten, the organizers and founders, in addition bring along homemade cakes and coffee and tea. It’s pretty much like there’s a comic art party in your living room. If your living room is a gallery and you have apple cake and chocolate cake (with Maltesers on top!) being beautifully served in a corner of the room.

Anyway, the night kicked off as I’ve learned it usually does – this was only my second time attending Laydeez Do Comics – with an introductory question, to make the audience, quote, “feel the fear of the speakers”. This is actually a great idea in terms of making people comfortable but the best thing is that you get to hear a lot of great (though sometimes pretty sad) stories. The question this night was “Has something unexpected happened to you?”, which was triggered by Nicola’s story from last week of her dog suddenly dying on the beach, mid-leap. The question resulted in a lot of different answers and stories: quite a large number of deceased pets and relatives but also pierced noses, a motorbike gift, climbing squirrels and phones lost down the loo.

After the question there was time for the guest speakers of the night: Brigitte Mierau, Gareth Brookes and ILYA, also sometimes known as Ed Hillyer.

Brigitte Mierau kicked off by presenting a few examples of her work. Mierau is a stitcher who creates beautiful pieces with thread and needle – some so detailed it’s hard to believe that it’s not pen on paper but thread on (and in) fabric. She explained that she found inspiration in bits of overheard conversations, to-do lists and shopping lists. She also told us she uses the stitching to tell autobiographical stories, such as her experiences in art school, and in the sewn book of essays she has made, Stitch it to the man (nicely). Right now she’s working on a project involving graffiti and Venetian tourist t-shirts.

(What she didn’t present, though she totally should have, was her notecards. I could see them over her shoulder before she got on stage. She’d written every word in a different colored pen! Amazing.)

In addition to presenting a slideshow of her work she explained her artistic process. All her stitching is done by hand, since, as she puts it, “I don’t like machines.” She explained her artistic happiness really nicely: “Just the thought of being able to stitch for hours on end makes me really happy.”

The second artist to talk this Monday night was Gareth Brookes, author of the 2012 winner of the First Graphic Novel Competition from Myriad Editions, The Black Project. He guided the audience through his life as an artist, from the start of “Banal Pig” that was rejected from the local tattoo parlor, to the stick-man “Man Man” and, as he describes them, beautiful drawings with horrible poetry on them. I’d like to see more of those, actually, that was spot on my kind of humor.

His graphic novel, though, is less funny and more beautiful, and slightly eerie. The Black Project tells the story of Richard who makes girlfriends out of household bits and pieces. The story is told through Brookes’ work with linoleum and embroidery, which looks very cool on paper but isn’t, as he says, a very efficient way of working. Brookes also presented a story published in Art Review called “Dead Things” which I found summed up his work quite well: Beautifully made, really nice to read, but pretty morbid.

When Brookes was done, it was time for ILYA’s presentation, which was set in a different format from usual. Instead of showing his drawings and talking about them the Laydeez themselves joined him on stage in a panel conversation. ILYA is the author of the newly released Room for Love, published by SelfMadeHero, but before he talked about that the conversation went through his work in chronological order: From the idea of “Super Jelly Eater” in his childhood to “Kid Savage” and his contribution to the Manga Shakespeare series, King Lear. In addition to all his comics ILYA – or in this case, Ed Hillyer – has also published a novel. The Clay Dreaming, a book which started out as a comic book but ended up as a novel,  published by Myriad in 2010. This illustrated a point Hillyer made throughout his presentation: Things take time. Ten years, in the case of The Clay Dreaming. Having worked in comics for 28 years, Hillyer stated, “You go to college too early in life”. He also pointed out that most people had no idea what to do with their lives when they were 18 or 19. Instead, he suggested, people should work things out and try going to university at the age of maybe 26.

In his newest book, Room for Love, the plot circles around a young homeless man and a middle aged woman and their relationship – ILYA calls it an “anti-romance” – and how they deal with life. ILYA talked the audience through how he had done the coloring of the book. Mostly he used subtle blues for the plotline of the woman and browns for the plotline of the man, mixing up the colors as their relationship grew more intertwined. I haven’t had the chance to read it yet but I am definitely planning to.

And after this talk, the Laydeez Do Comics was over for this time. I had eaten cake. I had talked to nice people. And I’d attended yet another good night for comic art and conversation. Until next time!

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Laydeez Do Comics Leeds 30th September 2013

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Blogger: Becky Kidner

Hi, my name is Becky Kidner, an artist (who unfortunately also has a full time ‘proper’ job!)  I gave a talk at the LDC Leeds in May 2013 which I thoroughly enjoyed! I talked about my main artistic practice which is my ongoing “Diary Drawing” project that I have been doing since September 2007, where I document every single day in drawings. I’m often quite behind, but I am determined to continue the project until I can no longer hold a pen! You can see the entire back catalogue of Diary Drawings from the very beginning, as well as other bits and bobs of my work on my blog: becky kidner.

This is a picture of me enjoying a cup of coffee!:

becky

I am a big fan of LDC, I think it’s a fantastic series of events and so inspiring! I was very honoured to be the blogger for this event in September.

It was quite a slow start to the evening, there was a bit of a low turnout which was a shame, but still – I got myself an Apricot Sam Smiths beer (which I hadn’t tried before), laid out my pens on the chair next to me, got out my little Moleskine sketchbook and started to document the evening…

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The regular ‘ice-breaking’ question this time around was “What would be on the postcard of your summer?” Some of the answers included: “Stuck in a Lab”… “Latitude Festival”… “Swimming in the North Sea”… “A Sun-Burnt Dad”…”Travels in Scotland”…  (see finished piece at the bottom of this blog post for more answers!)

First speaker of the evening: Julie Brown

Julie works at the University of Leeds and is conducting research on the varying effects and impact of a forum such as Laydeez Do Comics. Julie is collecting biogrophies through interviews and would like to hear from you! please email her at: e.j.brown@leeds.ac.uk

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Second speaker: Annie Lawson

I have seen Annie at all of the LDC meetings I have been to in Leeds. She is a fascinating lady whose work spans a variety of mediums, including: knitted bees (that she sold at craft markets in her early days!), politicaly focused cartoons, illustrations for the company ‘Lush’, writing novels, making animations & creating amazing rugs! She also spoke of being an activist and possibly being wanted by the MI5!

Annie Lawson’s website: http://www.annielawson.com/index.html

Final speaker: Mick Kidd

Mick spoke of the body of work he has created alongside the illustrator Chris Garratt. They have collaberated together for many, many years – including a regular slot in the Guardian newspaper.

I really loved the style of Mick & Chris’ work together, the way they recycle old magazines / comics and other images to re-appropriate really interests me. Some of it reminded me a little bit of Art Spiegleman’s work who I am a big fan of!

Mick Kidd & Chris Garratt’s work can be seen here: http://biffonline.co.uk/

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I’m very excited about LDC Leeds in November as Gemma Correll is speaking – I’m a big fan of her work so looking forward to that on 25th November!

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There was a little bowl of sweets on the welcome table, so I grabbed a cheeky Werther’s Original on my way out of the door, and walked to the train station to go back home. Whilst on the train home I drew this man sat across from me:

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This is the finished piece of work I made from my drawings of the evening, I put it together in a similar (if slightly looser) style to how I do my Diary Drawings:

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Laydeez Do Comics London, October 2013

cropped-header-for-ldc-wordpress1 About me – I was invited to be guest blogger at London’s Laydeez do Comics in October 2013, exciting! I’m Keara Stewart, a comics lover and maker. I graduated from Camberwell College of Arts (BA Hons Drawing) in 2007. Some of my first drawings to appear in print were my cut-out-and-keep entertainment collectors cards in ARTY #24, a Transition Gallery publication. I’m currently working on a comic pamphlet for Researcher Hannah Zeilig, as part of an AHRC funded project into Arts and Dementia. I’m also excited to be collaborating on an illustrated story with the remarkable Ravi Thornton. Also in October, my drawings were exhibited as part of Mirror Mirror at London College of Fashion. You can follow me on twitter and see my posts on tumblr.

Keara Stewart a.k.a Pippi Longstocking

Keara Stewart a.k.a Pippi Longstocking

My love of comics is slowly taking over my life (in a good way!) and of all the events and talks out there, nowhere has a more inspiring and supportive atmosphere than Laydeez do Comics. The evening began with the fabulous duo, Nicola Streeten and Sarah Lightman introducing themselves…

Nicola Streeten and Sarah Lightman

Nicola Streeten and Sarah Lightman, by Keara Stewart

..and then ‘The Question’, which this month asked us about something we have lost… As usual there was a range of answers, some hilarious, some painful! Answers included: “I think on Saturday I lost my dignity” “I lost my temper” “I lost five cameras in one trip! But it did mean I had to draw absolutely everything” “I always lose stuff in my hair”

Afro

“I always lose stuff in my hair” by Keara Stewart

Francesca Mancuso by Keara Stewart

Francesca Mancuso by Keara Stewart

Una black

Una by Keara Stewart

First to present was Roz Streeten… Roz Streeten is the creator of the hugely successful ‘Rosie Flo’s colouring Books‘. The idea for the books came out of endless drawing requests from her two daughters, Sophie and Sasha. It began with drawing after drawing of dresses to which her daughters could add heads, arms and legs. Roz knew that her daughters couldn’t be the only ones “who wanted dress after dress after dress” and so the first Rosie Flo Colouring Book was born!

Ros Streeten by Keara Stewart

Roz Streeten by Keara Stewart

From the very beginning the books have been self published. For the first book, Roz took a financial risk in printing 800 books, as although she didn’t know what the reception would be, this kept the unit price down. First stop was Daunt Books in Hampstead. The lady there asked what they were priced at and Roz said maybe £6.00. Daunt Books recommended £5.99 and bought 9 copies of the book, a result! Roz went on to 17 more bookshops and sold out – they have now been selling in the Tate Bookshop for over nine years! Ros has also taken The Rosie Flo Books to Camp Bestival and other events to publicize them. 14547_rosie-flos-colouring-book One of the unique selling points of the Rosie Flo books are the thin lines of the drawings. For younger children, they don’t have to worry about colour going over the edges, but because they do not have the thick lines of other colouring books they also appeal to older children up to about twelve years old. The different themes of the books include Animals (with various dresses including a fish dress with fins), Sporty (including a super shuttlecock dress) Arty (with a fabulous melting Salvador Dali dress) and Johnny Joe’s (including pirates, flying and diving gear). Though they do have girls and boys names, they are not prescribed as for being for particular sexes, with Roz describing in relation to gender stereotyping the books that “it’s really our own preconceptions”. She has found that although boys don’t use the Rosie Flo books so much, girls tend not to distinguish between Johnny Joe’s and Rosie Flo’s. Of all the colouring books, there are two that I am most drawn to, because of their material and concept. Firstly, The Rosie Flo Night-time Colouring book, which is printed on black paper with white line drawings. The second is the Rosie Flo Kitchen Colouring Book, (including sweet corn and broccoli dresses) which has some pages printed on baking paper to create different layers of the dress. Since then, The Rosie Flo Colouring Books have grown to include posters and colouring-in-kit-models including a catwalk kit. The kit that started off as a cafe was transformed, after a suggestion from Roz’s husband and co-director of the company, that she turn the lid into a pool – and so the cafe became a pool party! Roz describes how with the kits you can “create your own characters and then play with them”. In Japan, adults have also embraced the Rosie Flo Colouring Books and this led to a successful Rosie Flo Colouring Competition in the country!

Ros Streeten Japan Competition

From the Rosie Flo Colouring Competition, Japan

Although she was asked if she would ever consider a deal with a publisher, Roz Streeten continues to self publish (using offset litho for printing) as this gives her full control and is more financially rewarding. It was a great talk which gave us a real insight on how to follow through an idea into print. I urge you all to buy The Rosie Flo Colouring books as Christmas presents for any children in your life – I certainly have! Up next was Marina Magi…

Marina Magi by Keara Stewart

Marina Magi by Keara Stewart

Marina Magi has been drawing comics since she was 3 years old. She studied Fine Arts in Argentina and spoke to us at Laydeez do Comics about various projects. While showing images of her varied comic styles, Marina described to us her Manga and fashion influences.

By Marina Magi

By Marina Magi

Marina gave us an insight into ‘Romeos’, a story about human trafficking in Argentina and the conspiracies surrounding this, relating to the Argentine Government. Marina had been advised to make ‘Romeos’ erotic, rather than pornographic, but she disagreed – “I didn’t want to make it classy, I wanted to make it rough and I wanted to make it ugly because I think that must be the world that these people live in”. It is about a guy that works in a bar as a prostitute and who daydreams about being a musician. It is a ten issue comic, that is interconnected and tells the same story but told from different views. Marina explained her fascination with how the characters can tell you what they want to be, that she felt that the characters were guiding her in her telling of the story. She imagines what kind of music the character would listen to, for example. An exhibition of the Romeo drawings was also held in Argentina, which received great feedback.

By Marina Magi

By Marina Magi

In response to a question, Marina described some of the stories she came across through her research into trafficking nets in Argentina and across the world. She spoke about how living in this world as a female, you have to be careful, not to go out alone, but that this applies to males too, and her Romeos comic highlights this. Marina is currently working on a website, but until then you can follow her on twitter!

Mari Magi, photo by Keara Stewart

Marina Magi, photo by Keara Stewart

We then had the all important break to get to know each other and to eat Sarah Lightman’s famous cakes – the chocolate cake was the best yet!

Sarah's scrumptious chocolate cake!

Sarah’s scrumptious chocolate cake!

I took the opportunity to chat to the hugely talented Wallis Eates, who spoke at last month’s LDC…and to draw this gentleman who was talking to Katie Green, our final speaker…

Man with katie

Gent with Katie by Keara Stewart

Last to present was Katie Green…

Katie Green by Chris Bertram

Katie Green, photo by Chris Bertram

Katie Green, creator of the much loved zine, ‘The Green Bean‘ was invited to LDC to talk about her latest work, her first full length graphic novel, the stupendous ‘Lighter Than My Shadow’ (published by Jonathan Cape) and children’s book, ‘The Crystal Mirror’ (Vala Publishing), which she has illustrated. Katie’s love of animals and desire to be like David Attenborough played a part in her studying for a biology degree. It was her Art Foundation Course though, following her degree, that was more suited to her as she explained that she got to “animate bunnies rather than cutting them up!” With ‘The Green Bean’, Katie told us that “basically, I just love drawing”. Luckily for us, we get to share in her creativity, reading about her loves and interests and favourite books. ‘Lighter Than My Shadow’ is Katie’s first graphic novel which is 500 pages long and took five years to complete. It explores her life while suffering from anorexia and her recovery, “I was anorexic. I’m not anymore”. Many people have asked whether it was a cathartic experience writing the book. The Green Bean, Volume 4, Issue 1 focused on the process of creating LTMS which in every way was cathartic. This was not the case with the book itself. It was a difficult journey to recovery and is an ongoing process, “I used to think that recovery was closing the door and leaving everything behind”. If anything, Katie has experienced the opposite, especially as while writing the book her disease became part of her identity again. Once Katie was diagnosed with anorexia, she was frustrated to find that there were no books that were any help to her or her family. They either told you to think positively, snap out of it and you’ll be ok, or that you would never recover. Katie had drawn a picture to try and explain her disease to her family, which was later used to communicate with nurses and doctors, to try and articulate how she felt. This drawing was a starting point when she had the idea to write her own book, which she hoped would be “the book about recovery”. Physically and mentally, she went through many ups and downs which meant it took many years before she was able to begin work on the book. Katie has been brave enough to return to return to some painful memories in order to create a book that she hopes will help others. She wanted to write an honest book, “I really wanted to not shy away from the hardest things about it. But also show that you can recover”. Without a doubt, I feel she has achieved this and that her book will help sufferers and their families too.

Katie Green (LTMS)by Keara Stewart

Katie Green (Lighter Than My Shadow) by Keara Stewart

In the book, Katie’s illness is represented as a dark black cloud and as the disease gets worse, the cloud gets bigger, engulfing her whole family. After being sexually abused, the cloud changes shape, as she begins to binge eat. Binge eating is an eating disorder which is in many ways, far less understood than anorexia. Katie describes how as a culture “we slightly admire and revere anorexia… bingeing and abuse particularly, we are disgusted by”. This is something she wanted to address, her belief in the importance of changing attitudes and also to show that there is always hope of recovery. Katie’s talk generated lots of discussion, from who the book is helpful to, to issues surrounding her abuser and whether or not to report him and also how she managed her time in order to complete the book. Katie was able to secure funding from the Arts Council (following her time at the Arvon Foundation) which allowed her to focus solely on LTMS for the final two years. The grey colour of the paper along with the folded pages to create the panels make LTMS beautiful and unique in it’s physicality as well as it’s content, “you’re really held by this vision” (Corinne Pearlman, Myriad Editions). I couldn’t agree more. This grand tome was a great undertaking which Katie described as “kind of like making a film on your own”. It completely bowled me over. When LTMS was finished, Katie moved up to the light loft space in her home to begin work on the beautifully illustrated story ‘The Crystal Mirror’. This has now been published and I cannot wait to read it! Another fascinating evening at Laydeez do Comics, thank you All!

Meal post laydeez, photo by Keara Stewart

Meal post laydeez, photo by Keara Stewart