Laydeez Day Festival by Isabel Rafferty and Esme Bow MacLean

Laydeez do Comics awards, Emma Burleigh, the first Female-Identifying Prize for Unpublished Graphic Novels in Progress at an all-inclusive day festival in recognition and celebration of the UK-based talent of women in the comic industry.

Picture1 team and shortlist

Held at the Free Word Centre in East London, the inspiring day showcased all works submitted in the form of zines. It saw a panel discussion with the shortlisted artists, provided support through review sessions with six notable female cartoonists, and announced the winner; Emma Burleigh, author of ‘My Other Mother, My Other Self’.


Supported by the Arts Council England and through Crowdfunder, the first women’s prize for comics awarded £2,000 for the winner’s prize and £200 to each of the shortlisted artists; Akhila Krishnan, Cathy Brett, Emily Haworth-Booth, Sarah Ushurhe and Rebecca Jones.

Shocked and pleasantly surprised with her prize, Burleigh expressed that the experience of the Laydeez comics in-progress prize feels like ‘a dream come true’, and ‘a way of connecting, bringing people together and creating a supportive community’.

Emma Burleigh plans to open new LDC branch in Bristol

Alongside co-founders Sarah Lightman and Nicola Streeten, Burleigh announced that her next steps are to finish working on her compelling graphic novel and expand LDC to a new branch in Bristol. After working on her story for some years, and keeping an eye on the female-led forum, she felt like LDC was the best fit for her work:

“This is where I want to belong in terms of community and support. It’s just an amazing opportunity to be able to get support and motivation. Even if I hadn’t of been longlisted, it would have still been a good experience because it motivated me to polish up some pages.”

‘My Other Mother, My Other Self’ is an autobiography of Burleigh’s journey in meeting her birth mother and experiencing the challenges that came with opening her own ‘Pandora’s box’.

“There are quite a lot of different myths and stories that came to mind, but I think the Pandora one felt most rich. One of the things is that my birth mother herself said to me at a certain point, ‘well you have opened Pandora’s box now, and you could hurt a lot of people’,” says Burleigh, explaining the creative process behind her work.

“I think another metaphor in the book, on so many levels, is finding my voice, being able to tell my side of the story and being able to articulate that visually and in writing and being able to communicate that. As we are speaking, I can feel a sense of letting go in my throat.”

Laydeez do Comics and feminism

Since 2009, LDC- the first female-led graphic novel forum in the UK- has provided platforms globally for emerging and established comic artists to test new works and ideas. The Laydeez renowned sense of welcoming community was alive at the festival as attendees conversed and socialised over wine and cakes layered with printed feminist quotes.

Passionate about reflecting a diversity of people, LDC is conscious that a gender-specific prize is not the solution, but feel it is necessary for the graphic novel industry’s progression towards equality by promoting women’s work in a male-dominated field. Sarah Lightman explains:

“It can be paralysing thinking that there is no-one interested in your work, but there is always an audience. The graphic novel world can grow and expand as much as we want it to, one way we can ensure this happens is to demand that the gatekeepers are truly diverse.

“Those who decide what gets published, what or who gets funded, and who gets prizes and opportunities to speak at Comic-Cons, conferences, and literary festival, must reflect the widest spectrum of society.”

A female-led forum accessible to all

The event attracted a range of ages, backgrounds and cultures. Joe Stone, a guest at the Laydeez festival, commented on how it was nice to see a diverse selection of people, particularly in age, and how it has encouraged him to progress his comic work further. “It makes me want to go back and draw better comics by comparison,” he says, “it’s motivating.”

In an impassioned speech, Lightman said: “Artists, your works that we have displayed in zines in the Laydeez Lounge, have challenged what people here today think comics are capable of. Through your drawings and what your work is about, you are all trailblazers. You are all making a path for others to follow which they will then turn into their comics journeys.”

Although the inaugural prize has passed, Laydeez do Comics continue to revolutionise the graphic novel industry, and we can expect to see similar milestones in the future. No matter your gender, whether you’re at the beginning or end of your comic career or are merely interested in seeing what all the fuss is about; you can attend their monthly meet-ups and keep updated here and signing up to their newsletter.


London Laydeez Sept 2017 by Pam Kaur Gibbons

Hi! I’m Pam Kaur Gibbons, a comic enthusiast and a teacher of English to international students based in London. I tweet @kaurgibbons

LDC at The Cartoon Museum was exciting as ever:

  • The Question: Something interesting/funny about your name OR you’re favourite plant
  • The audience was packed with floral names: Fleur, Poppy, Lily to name a few.



  • Comic artist
  • Illustrator
  • Focuses on the formula of life experience + creativity = what?
  • Loves drawing mugs of tea: “keep going for hours”
  • “Why write autobio comics?” Comics lend themselves to autobiographical work in that they can leave a legacy for posterity. Also, important for working in the Here and Now and wanting to change something in the current society
  • Aware of the stigma around mental health and wondered how is this illustrated?

‘The Butterfly Stage’ Graphic Novel

  • Trying to be truthful in the images being used
  • Really important to tell it through a true story
  • Took a while to feel comfortable to tell the story
  • ‘Worrying’ represented in a cyclical way
  • Often the images associated with psychosis are horrendous and sensationalised and did not depict her personal experience
  • Use of images as a symbolisation of psychosis but wanted to be careful that they would not cause a trigger
  • Use of the flower: “something alive is happening in my mind”
  • Being truthful and not a cliché
  • It focuses on transformation



Education Director at Positive Negatives

Positive Negatives:

  • Director: Dr Benjamin Dix, Senior Fellow at SOAS
  • Founded in 2012
  • Ethno-graphic research non-profit
  • Make comic animations about real-life stories
  • Due to human rights’ implications and security issues, turn photos into graphic illustrations
  • Capture people’s stories whilst protecting their identity
  • Focus of comics are humanitarian issues, social issues, race, natural disasters and more
  • Use comics to transform policy makers’ research or statistics to be more accessible
  • Comics humanise the statistics and bring to life the issues
  • Get the wider general audience to critically engage with the issues
  • Work with a wide range of artists from around the world to be culturally appropriate to the story being portrayed
  • Use mixed medium such as real photos mixed with illustration to further the impact of the story being represented

Participatory methodology:

  • Go out to meet refugees / individuals / activists all over the world
  • Work with same-sex interpreters
  • Work with same-sex artists
  • Take lots of photos from field work as most researchers are not artists
  • Take contextual information for the artists, if they are unable to come out for field-work
  • Write the script
  • Take that back to the respondent and get them to check for accuracy
  • Do the same for the storyboard
  • Take the draft storyboard to the respondent, to ensure visual accuracy
  • At the end of the process give the respondent a hard copy of the work
  • Talk about the process to the respondent, and ask them “What it’s like seeing your story in front of you?” and “Has there been any effect on the community?”

Why Comics? Educational Charity

  • Established in 2016
  • Focus on the UK education national curriculum
  • Over 60 published lesson plans that are available free
  • Teachers can filter by: age, topic, length of lesson
  • Up to 10 contextual links within each lesson plan, such as maps, research, infographics, and videos, to bring the issue to life.

LDC March 13 in New York

There was a special pop-up LDC in NYC in March, hosted by Karen Green, in her fabulous flat.

It was a wonderful night featuring local talented and inspiring comic artists and comics scholars:

Karen Green, Curator of Comics and Cartoons, Columbia University Libraries
Ellen Lindner Black Feather Falls, Undertow, Editor of The Strumpet
Bonnie Millard Comics Artist and Graphic Designer

as well as a remarkable lemon and courgette/zucchini cake by Ellen! Deelicious!


ldc 1LDC 2LDC 3ldc 4

Thank you to everyone for coming and a big thank you to Yael Michaeli ( who, as you can see is a rising star at 11 years old!) for these wonderful blog drawings of the night.

Let’s do it again soon NYC!!!

January 2017 – Laydeez Do Angouleme!


This month the Laydeez of London, Leeds and Birmingham joined forces with Ladies Night Anthology, the Comic Book Slumber Party, and FEMSKT and took Angouleme by storm. You can read a full account of their adventures on the Broken Frontier website on the link below. Contributions by Wallis Eates, Megan Byrd and Hannah K Chapman.

I’ll never look at Sting the same way again…

Hello, I’m Jane Porter, your guest blogger for November 24 2016.  I’m a children’s illustrator & author, but I am also reviving my teenage interest in making comics – a current project is a graphic novel retelling of ‘Moby Dick’, set on the river Wandle in south west London. Start small! You can see more about it here: and I’m posting new drawings on Instagram at @janeporterillustrator and Twitter at @TheJanePorter.

I’ve been along to LDC a couple of times before and it’s always inspiring, and November was no exception. The blogpost is illustrated with some pages from my comic diary…

We started with The Question as usual:


Next, two speakers who were united by the extraordinary things they can do with a pencil. First up was Hannah Eaton. She talked about the love of British folklore that underpins both her debut graphic novel, Naming Monsters (Myriad Editions, 2013), and her new project, which sounds as if it will be epic.

Hannah was funny, modest, and made me want to rush straight home and Up My Game. Her range of references is huge, from Robert and Iona Opie’s classic ‘Lore and Language of School Children’ (she has 2 copies) to Twin Peaks and other David Lynch works, to the Usborne Book of Ghosts which seems to have been a very formative experience. And not forgetting the ‘rich pickings’ of an archive of family photos going back to the 1920s.



Next was Amber Hsu – “she’s terrifically talented, and has worked in a morgue” – what better introduction does anyone need?

Amber described her own evolution from photographer to sculptor, to comics artist, publisher of Tiny Pencil and founder of the One Pound Poems project. Her tale of meeting a stranger on a train, and eventually hearing all his deepest darkest secrets was very moving, and the poems she showed on screen were very moving, and often funny at the same time – something that’s difficult to achieve. She also told a lovely story about writing a poem for an unborn baby, and months later, the mother brought the baby to meet her.


JP_LDC3.jpgFootnote: I bought a copy of Naming Monsters and was so absorbed reading it I almost missed my stop on the way home, and was nearly late for work next morning as I couldn’t resist finishing it. If you haven’t seen it yet, get hold of a copy: it’s dark, funny, original and very moving, with gorgeous artwork too.