Laydeez do Comics July by Cat Neligan

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Eliza Fricker  + Dana Walrath

On the hottest day of 2016 so far, we gathered in the relative cool, comic-adorned crypt of the Cartoon Museum.

The Awkward Introductory Question: Who would you get sweaty with?

Unsurprisingly, there were some cartoon characters that popped up from the audience – seemed appropriate.

Soon enough, we settled down to Eliza Fricker’s show-and-tell about her graphic novel, Just Getting Old.

Eliza Fricker – Just Getting Old

One half of design duo Baines & Fricker, Eliza wasn’t new to illustration but this particular project came from a deeply personal place. She began by telling us the story of her mother’s illness, which I quickly assumed to be early-onset dementia.

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But over the course of the talk, we were made aware that this was something even doctors failed to diagnose correctly. Eliza’s clarity, raw honesty and strength shone through the entire talk, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who was riveted – and close to tears at times – throughout.

Her story made me really think about how mental illnesses, and illnesses of all kinds, affect the lives of the families and carers of those suffering. It also made me consider what makes us, US.

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At one point in the story, Eliza breaks down in a medical appointment, exclaiming “She’s not my mother anymore!” She also made me consider the loneliness someone experiences who is going to visit a loved one in hospital, and the impact of this on every aspect of their life.

I don’t want to ruin the plot, but I will say that Eliza’s story is a must-read for anyone, not just those directly experiencing the pain of caring for someone with an illness.

Dana Walrath – Aliceheimers

Up next was Dana Walrath, who came with another story about the impact of mental conditions on not just the afflicted, but everyone around them. Dana Walrath is a medical anthropologist who taught at the University of Vermont College of Medicine, as well as an accomplished artist and writer.

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Aliceheimers is her second book and has received great acclaim. She continues to speak worldwide about the role of comics in healing including talks at TEDx Battenkill and TEDx Yerevan.

Aliceheimer’s is about the period in Dana’s life when her mother came to stay with her and her family, having been kicked out of her apartment and in the throes of Alzheimer’s disease. Dana’s relationship with her mother wasn’t the best to begin with, and one would assume this period would have put even more of a strain on their relationship.

Instead, Dana told us through her wonderful whimsical pictures of Alice – as well as some utterly beautiful musical interludes (including an ‘Alzheimer’s theme song!) – how much the experience transformed their relationship. Like Dana described it, this is not a ‘zombie story’, like the typical account of someone suffering from Alzheimer’s.

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Her aim, which I believe she excelled at achieving, is to remove the stigma built up around the disease. It’s de-humanising, and unhelpful. Instead she helps us see how reframing these experiences, we can find growth, forgiveness, positive change, rebuild relationships and work through difficulties.

I hope it’s obvious by now, but both these inspiring laydeez have created books that will undoubtedly change how you see mental illness and serve as beams of hope for anyone who is has a loved one with an illness.

Background on Cat Rose:

My background is in design and a up-and-down-and-up illustration business, and now I’m on a mission to help fellow creatives, mostly introverts like myself, who struggle with the ‘icky’ feeling that comes with self-promotion.

I’m currently researching the links between personality types and how we can use our self-knowledge to make the most of our creative style and strengths.

You can get an idea about the stuff I talk about at: http://thecreativeintrovert.com/ or say hi @creativeintro on Twitter!

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Laydeez Do Comics Leeds April 2016

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Edie Owczarek-Palfreyman, a.k.a. Edie O.P. (a much more Google-friendly name, she explained) talked about her ‘sunny side of sinister’ approach to story-making.  When she is running low on creative inspiration, she goes on bus rides, long walks, or watches films, usually of the horror genre.

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This is John Whitaker, curator at Wakefield Musuem.  He was here to introduce us to The Extraordinary Life of Charles Waterton, a retelling of the bizarre life of a very strange man from Wakefield.  John himself was the writer of this comic, and champions the use of comics and graphic novel formats in museums.  We can expect to see more historical comics commissioned by museums in days to come, and not a jot too soon.

His biography was broken down into three parts, with one artist commissioned for each stage of Waterton’s life.  John Welding is up next, but he did the first “cheeky Charles” stage.  Staz Johnson pencilled the next action-packed stage, and finally nature illustrator Richard Bell made the jump to comics making art for the end of Waterman’s life.  All artists are in the Wakefield area.

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John Welding lives and illustrates from a coal yard in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, according to his blog.  There are lots of drawings for you to see there.

This was written and sketched by Hannah McCann.

LONDON 

NEXT MEETING: Monday 25 April 2016

Time: 7.00-9.00pm

Venue: House of Illustration, 2 Granary Square, Kings Cross, N1C 4BH
Run by Rachael Ball and Wallis Eates
info@laydeezdocomics.com

Our guest artists shall be:

Nicola Lane

‘Beryl the Peril’- Controversial feminist strip of the 70’s and 80’s

http://www.unfinishedhistories.com/perils-in-bethnal-green-2/

Artist/Cartoonist/ film maker

Naniie Bim

www.naniiebim.co.uk/

Cartoonist/Illustrator

Both artists are currently exhibiting at the House of Illustration’s Comix Creatrix exhibition

You will also be able to gain half  price admission to the ComixCreatrix exhibition on the night

Places are free, but space is limited.

Please RSVP  the HOI to book a place:

http://www.houseofillustration.org.uk/about/contact-us

 

 

Laydeez do Comics Birmingham, 8th February 2016

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Art by yendraws, who is also hosting a #draweveryday challenge on instagram! Guest Speakers were Lucie Ebrey, Verity Hall & Alex McCarthy.

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Sketches of Lucie by Caroline Parkinson

1st Guest speaker was Lucie Ebrey, aka Muggyebes.

She hated visiting her Grandmas as a kid, because there was nothing to do there! No toys, no books…but she would go to the library to see what graphic novels they had. She sort of liked superhero comics, but they didn’t quite scratch an itch she had for something more…it was at the library where she found Maus.

It was totally different than anything she’d come across before, and she realised comics can be more than action filled bam pow snap kinda strips.

She also came across the work of James Kochalka, who had kept a daily comic diary up for 14 years!

She was so impressed she decided to give it a go herself, and so began her own comic diary.

(fun fact: She called it Muggyebes, a nickname from her childhood, and draws herself as a dog because she’s always felt like she didn’t fit in,  and so she chose to visualise that, though in hindsight she feels like she probably should have gone for a rabbit).

She’s currently working on a joint-project called “Werewolf Social Club”,  about an epidemic where only women were turning into Werewolves. What would they do? Where would they go? This is a lady to watch! : )

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Sketches of Alex by Caroline Parkinson

2nd Guest Speaker was Alex McCarthy, who has just published her first comic “1 in 100”, about a young girl with Autism dealing with everyday life with her sister. She’s currently studying Illustration at University.

There are hardly any comics out there with girls with Autism, and she was inspired by the visualisation of the anxieties in Katie Green’s Lighter than my Shadow. She decided to go create her own comic.

1 in 100 is part of her animation from university, and did an accompanying video with it.

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Sketches of Verity by Caroline

3rd Guest Speaker was Verity Hall who talked to us about her recently published comic “Mystery Circus”.

She graduated in 2014. Her main aim in her comics is representation, and Sophie Campbell‘s comics are a huge inspiration in that respect.

“There’s always a risk writing a character like Mal, a trans WOC because I am neither, and I do worry about writing it well but I’m very aware I’m coming from an unfamiliar background. So far I’ve not written anything I would consider offensive but you never know how people might read something. I would happily listen to what someone has to day and try and improve, but in the end it depends on what they’ve taken issue too I suppose.”

She decided to take the leap last year and attended MCM Expo with her work. It was thwarted by her printer running out of ink, but she went along anyway and met the co-ordinator of Laydeez do Comics Birmingham.

She’s looking forward to doing more comic collaborations with her friends from Uni.

Laydeez do Comics London, 18th January 2016

Hello!

What a great meeting for the chance to be the LDC blogger – a Broken Frontier Special – woo hoo!

My name is Bryony Attenburrow and I’m and illustrator and comics artist.  You can take a peek at my work at: www.bryonyattenburrow.com or follow me on https://twitter.com/attenburrow_b

(Btw I think the pressure of writing the blog got to me on the evening and some kneejerk school girl reaction kicked in and I sat scribbling down notes as though I was going to be given a grade on my ability to answer questions on the evening (I did manage to take some photos though.))

So this is more text focused than I’d imagined for but I’m really happy with the results and found it a fun challenge to recreate the dynamism of the speakers and bring their words to life.

You can find out all about the wonderful work of Broken Frontier and Andy Oliver at: www.brokenfrontier.com

https://twitter.com/AndyWPOliver

Rozi Hathway’s beautiful work can be seen on her website or her twitter account:

www.rozihathaway.com

https://twitter.com/angelsallfire

Danny Noble’s world of fantastic characters is to be found via the following links:

www.dannynoble.net

https://twitter.com/MundyMorn

http://dannynoble.tumblr.com

Hope you like reading it and thanks to Andy Oliver, Rozi Hathaway and Danny Noble for a wonderful evening!

 

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Well said Danny! x

Laydeez do Comics London, 14 December 2015

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I arrived in a complete Mcflurry which betrayed my attempts to melt into a spare seat near the front of a packed room full of shelves, people and comics. This was a trinity of firsts for me; I had never been to a “Laydeez Do Comics” meeting, this is my first time guest-blogging and, in fact, blogging in general. As usual, no pressure.

Wallis Eates, London’s co-host with Keara Stewart was facilitating the proceedings with a customary warm up. This was in the form of an open invitation, “Tell me a good deed you have done”. The invitation to divulge was a counter point to the previous session’s, “Tell me a bad deed you have done”. Apparently only Wallis had done a bad deed that week, but that’s a different story for a different guest blogger. Everyone had a chance to respond with good deeds zipping round the room. When we were done, I told myself that I really aught to do more good deeding.

Now warmed up and focused, we were ready for the first guest speaker, Mike Medaglia. A calm man with a fine Italian name, not too dissimilar from the creator of Hellboy (my favourite comic). He looked every bit the cool Canadian boutique comic artist: slick, cropped short dark hair with a scooping bit at the front – I tried not to display my quiff envy. As you will see, he has been very busy and quite prolific.

Mike’s gentle and warm manner set the scene. He had spoken at LDC 4 years prior and was no stranger to Gosh! Comics, a place where he ran a reading group, worked, and met friends – even his agent and publisher. Gosh! was the real beginning of his journey.

Mike gave us an overview of what he had been up to since. And went on to present his earlier works which included:

“Wet Ashes” his first crack at making a graphic novel; “Wu Wei”, his first attempt at blending spirituality with the comic medium; an anthology that was web based; “Seasons” which are stories about the seasons in the year and how they relate to the seasons in a life; “Wu Wei 2” a spirituality anthology of different artists and an opportunity to editorialise; “Last Days” a story about the last sad days of Vincent Van Gogh; “Blue Bottle Mystery”, a comic book he adapted with the wonderful Artist Rachael Smith, based on the novel by Kathy Hoopman; and comic strips for Huffington Post. These deal with a Zen Buddhist koan (story, statement, question or dialogue to provoke introspection in the reader). Mike refered to them as infinite canvas comics.

It is clear that Mike’s interest in spirituality and Buddhist philosophy is a driving tour de force behind his creativity. His current book, “One Year Wiser”, is his biggest novel to date. The premise is that there is an illustrated quote for every day of the year. The concept is strong, matched by the execution. The ink lines are well balanced. He draws satisfying compositions which are part pattern, part surreal, part metaphor but all good. The colours on each page work together like a team of shaolin monks. wisdom wafts out of each page, facilitating introspection, reflection and a sense of well being.

Mike also works 2 days a week as an editor at Jessica Kingsley Publishers developing a line of comic books based on themes of aspergers, autism, trauma, sexual abuse, arts therapies and other such health issues. This is an area where I see comics performing a much needed social service.

Mike is currently working on the sequel to Blue Bottle Mystery, called “Lisa and the Lace Maker” about a young girl with aspergers.

 

 

 

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For more information on Mike and his comics visit http://mikemedaglia.com/

From the enlightened spiritual to the engaging personal…
Rachael Ball was our next guest speaker at once grounding us in her captivating talk. Matching Mike in noir attire and glasses framing her curly dark locks, she traversed the boundaries between cool and elegant, rocking it like a boss. We were in the presence of a formidable force. Her manner appeared to me to be honest and eloquent. You could anticipate that she was going to emotionally move all of us in that intimate comic space.

Rachael worked in cartoons 20 years ago, working for a comic called “Deadline” for 4 years, she went on to do an illustration MA at St Martin’s School of Art, then becoming a full time teacher.
After being diagnosed with breast cancer 4 years ago she decided to make some massive changes in her life. 7 months after her treatment she felt able enough to begin making her recent experience into a comic of some sort. Initially 13 blog episodes became a 17 chapter graphic novel called, “The Inflatable Woman”.

Her characters in the book range from ones that are supportive, comical or they freak out the book’s protagonist Iris. Some were fictional whilst others were based on real people. Rachael introduced us to them:

Iris a zoo keeper who is diagnosed with breast cancer while she develops a supportive online relationship with a lighthouse keeper, creating two kinds of tensions that run throughout the book. Part of Rachael’s inspiration for the book came from her experiences through internet dating.
Maud representing Rachael’s best friends Sally and Lucy who were supportive through her treatments.
Cat a funny cat character who does the household chores.
Penguins at the zoo, they are part of her zoo, they behave like kids at school.
A surgeon called Dr Vida, a very compassionate doctor.
Nurse Bobby, a thick skinned nurse who gradually becomes more evil, representing the paranoia felt when going through the cancer treatments.
Dr Magic based on Rachael’s surgeon, a showman.
Grandma Sugs, a character who says things in the wrong moment.
Mr and Mrs Death, foreboding characters based on two strange staring tube passengers who Rachael kept bumping into on three separate occasions after her diagnosis.
Sailor Buoy is Iris’ internet date and love interest.

Rachael then talked about some of the visual metaphors in the book using moths, paper dolls, a poem about a sick child, dark trees with tumours (which later blossom), and rounded off the talk by explaining some of her process.

She did not spend a lot of time thinking about the plot but made lot of long lists of things that she could remember over each month. Rachael spent a lot of time coming up with characters.
Rachael is a skilful renderer. The drawing style is pencilly with its heavy shading and textured areas balanced with sparing lines and white paper. All used to good effect in all the right places. The charcoal black pages are not overcrowded having 1 or sometimes 2 per page . Allowing for a well paced story. A true page turner. Poetry pops up every now and then adding to the atmosphere and feeling. The dark aspects of the book are masterfully blended with humour and dreamy sequences.

Rachael’s current book is called “Wolf Man” which is about a family whose father dies and how they cope with the loss.

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For more information on Rachael and her comics visit http://rachaelball.tumblr.com/

After a nice round of questions from the audience, I simply could not help myself. I picked up copies of both books from Mike and Rachael. I was, after all, in the best comic shop in town.

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This blog was created by Neil Emmanuel.

You can see more of Neil’s work at neilemmanuel.com and you can buy his book here: Hunting for History: Saxon Gold.