Guest blogger: Claire J.C. Stewart
“What is the oldest piece of clothing that you own?” Welp… Believe it or not, when you’re on the spot and away from the immediate vicinity of your own wardrobe (or floordrobe, in my case) this question is a lot harder to answer than you’d think. I was unaware that each LDCG event started with a full-audience participation ice-breaker question like this. Unaware because to my shame I had never been to one, until they asked me along to be this time’s guest blogger. I am Claire Stewart, a.k.a Nuke, @ClaireArtStew, a.k.a reclusive illustrator and comics artists via Nuclaire Art.So, as we sat down with our coffees and our teas, and our wee marshmallow top hat cakes, my brain thought frantically about what was my oldest piece of clothing, while I also stolekeen glances around the room at all the faces I knew, and all the faces I didn’t. The ice breaker/room-intro served as a great device, beyond putting us on the spot to come up with quirky and personable answers, by reminding me, and all of us, just how diverse and keen and intelligent the comics scene here is in Glasgow, in our own tiny part of the world. We spent about twenty minutes reminiscing equally on our old attires, and then each our links into comics. After that, I settled in to enjoy the evening’s talks. First up we had Malcy Duff. Of the three speakers we were treated to that night, Malcy was the only one I had not heard of, or knew anything about the work of prior to being here. Perhaps because he’s Edinburgh based and I’ve not been on the Edinburgh art scene in over four years, since graduating from art school there. And Malcy did remind me fondly of my art-school days in the capital. A comics creator who relishes in experimenting with and pushing out from the norms of‘traditional’ sequential art. Very much a non-conformative and a deliberate and subversive thinker. Through discussing Robots, Malcy’s ongoing period anthology, he showed us how he put into practice his desires to break down the traditions and usual respects for linear comic book form.This included designing characters by pulling shapes out of existing drawings, photocopying and printing and repeating art, re-copying and mark-making on acetate, and working with smudges and ‘happy accidents’ to create non-formative narrative. Again taking me back to my own art school days, and the feeling of a more personal, definitely most unique, approach to comic-making overall. I will also give Malcy an accolade for being the only person I know, or have ever witnessed, making a comic with video as the medium and an unsuspecting lettuce as its subject matter (see: Snowcone.) Gill Hatcher was next, and I think it’s hard for anyone involved in comics in Glasgow to not know who Gill is, and to not admire her abundant work and her enthusiastic presence in comics here. Most recently Gill has had a successful publication, with the charming Avery Hill Publishing, of her newest book The Beginner’s Guide to Being Outside. It is as quaint as the title would suggest, but also far much more, with a depth to its writing which makes it worth reading more than once. Gill discussed the evolution of the story, the influences behind the art, and her own history with nature, being outdoors, and what inspired her to make this accomplished book. Gill also talked fondly of her personal history with comics; which was started by making some for herself and friends in school, and reading the likes of The Beano and Twinkie. A history that I think a lot of independent creators can relate fondly to. Although Gill is often synonymous with the esteemed Team Girl Comic anthology, it was great to hear her talk asides from that, and to know that she plans to continue in the near future with solo publications of her own art and writing. Lastly we had Mhairi Stewart, and Roller Grrrls. I feel like I should stop the blog for a moment to write a separate disclaimer here: I am a roller derby girl with Glasgow Roller Derby. I am currently, as I write, covered in derby bruises, and I even have a skate name. Thus, I am under high suspicion that it was a deliberate conspiracy to align my being asked to be the LDCG guest blogger with asking Mhairi to come along and talk about Roller Grrrls. I was already familiar with Roller Grrrls prior to this night, though almost entirely from speaking about it with the comic’s artist Gary Erskine. So it was great to hear Mhairi, the comic’s co-creator, on stage instead giving us the introductions to some of its protagonists, their traits and glimmers of their back stories. Gary and Mhairi’s loud and proud mantra with Roller Grrrls has always been “strong female characters”. Strong, diverse, representative, all in the spirit of this highly unique sport; and the comic, long been and still anticipated for release, already looks to be delivering in full all of that in its concept art and preview strips. I am personally excited to see the sport that I love, for all its glory and wonderful inclusivity, represented in comic book form. Mhairi also spoke enthusiastically about future ideas to bring comics forth as education tool into her native field of science, and beyond. Here’s hoping anyway for a 2015 release of Roller Grrrls and all that is to come after from Mhairi and Gary.