Laydeez Do Comics Glasgow – 12th May

Guest blogger: Jules Valera

I am a comic artist and illustrator and you can see examples of my work here http://julesvalera.daportfolio.com Fact and fiction came together in the second Laydeez do Comics Glasgow this month, as Heather Middleton, Sha Nazir, and Evy Craig stepped up to talk comics.

LDC Glasgow May 1

First up was Heather Middleton, Team Girl Comic contributor and comics historian charting the life of French cartoonist Isabelle Émilie de Tessier, better known as Marie Duval, one of the first female cartoonists in Europe and recently recognised as co-creator of the well known 19th century cartoon character ‘Allie Sloper’. While her work was often credited to her partner Charles Henry Ross and her signatures removed from works that were reprinted later when Allie got his own magazine, Marie was seemingly undeterred, authoring her own book Queens & Kings and Other Things in 1874 under the pseudonym Princess Hesse Schwartzbourg, and taking to the stage as infamous English robber Jack Sheppard in the French play Les Chevaliers du Brouillard. Heather talked about the difficulties of trying to track down biographical information on a woman who seems to have played many different characters at once, as well as the “sisterly thing” of women rescuing other women’s stories from being lost in history. (An example given was the recent collaboration between Mary & Bryan Talbot and Kate Charlesworth, Sally Heathcote: Suffragette.)

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Next was Sha Nazir of Black Hearted Press, comic artist and organiser of the upcoming Glasgow Comic Con. Sha told the story behind his comic Mega Penguin, made at a time when he was under incredible stress at the office. BHP intern Paul Hamstead issued a challenge- “let’s draw!”- and the two spurred each other on to complete their own short comics on the side. Sha described the process- getting up each morning and getting straight into pencilling pages before the emails started rolling in- dispensing with the usual stages of blocking and blue pencils. “It was like a cool breeze of calmness”. He compared it to the experience of completing 24 Hour Comics- a stretch to see what you’re capable of under pressure, a reminder of what you can do. Unlike his other ongoing comic with Jack Lothien, Laptop Guy, where Sha explains that he only appears as a character, Mega Penguin is more of an autobiographical venture. Who wouldn’t want to be a giant, city-destroying penguin?

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“I am Mega Penguin… It’s my song to myself.”

Last was pop artist Evy Craig, fresh from her recent Glasgow exhibition ‘Tickling Sticks at the Ready’ celebrating British comedy legends through her unique portraits. She launched straight into an introduction of her ever-expanding cast of characters, seemingly produced from thin air from a brain-shaped studio, although apparently friends can attest to certain autobiographical qualities popping up from time to time. Of these characters, the most loved is Grunt, the jaundiced, booze-loving, friendly yellow guy who may be too fond of his bevvy but always wears fresh pants. Grunt’s popped up in issues of Team Girl Comic and made an appearance on the front cover of issue 4.

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“People are always asking me, “How’s Grunt doing?” I dunno, huvnae seen him in ages…!”

The panel closed with some positive discussion of comics and their ever-expanding readership, as well as the age old question of “is it art or is it literature?”- a nice way to wind things up before we headed off to the pub.

Thanks, Glasgow Laydeez! See you again in August!

– Jules Valera

@Lieabed

 

 

 

 

LDC London March 2014

My name is Craig Fitzgerald, and drawing has been a hobby of mine since almost as far back as I can remember. I have been fond of visual storytelling mediums in the creation of comic strips, stop-motion sequences, and short films. I completed a BA in Game Cultures  at London South Bank University in which I explored the avenues of video game development.

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Guests this evening were:
Eva Megias: www.evamegias.com
Sue Cohen: http://www.occupymytimearts.yolasite.com/
Jessica Martin: www.officialjessicamartin.com

 

Leeds. Jan 2014. Joanna Wilkinson. James McKay. Chella Quint.

Leeds. Jan 2014. My first ever Laydeez Do Comics meeting. I jumped on the train in Manchester – my heart aflutter. I am new to the world of graphic novels. I am a little bit frightened; I am a whole heap excited.  My name is Sui Anukka. I am writer. I am currently developing MIRA – a comic about a female, Asian Superhero saving the day in Manchester.

Speakers on the night were printmaker Joanna Wilkinson, comic artists James McKay and comedy writer, performer, designer and artist Chella Quint.

Jo-2JOANNA WILKINSON shared her influences and gave us an insight into her creative process when producing her exquisite, limited edition micro books (Zines), including  ‘Oranges are the only fruit’, ‘Bingo Voyeurism’ and ‘The Lady Garden Book of Holes’.

A bit about Joanna:  She is the daughter of a Vicar. She is half-Scottish. She grew up in Cumbria – spectacular views, but not a great deal to do. Life was austere. Her mum had strict rules about the television; no tele before 4pm = lots of time to for reading, drawing and flights of fancy. Little Joanna used to make her own comic strips and books. Joanna has a sister.

Early influences: Beryl the Peril, The Orr Wullie comic strips from The Sunday Post (The Scottish paper), The Family from One End Street and Posy Simmonds.

Joanna’s working processes:  She draws – a lot, experimenting with line, with capturing the moment at speed – in the car (when being driven), at the theatre. She keeps all her sketchbooks, building up a visual library. She takes over the kitchen table. She becomes obsessed the project at hand – the housework is ignored.  She collects ephemera uses household found objects – scanned.

Method and madness: Relief prints. Monoprints. Collage. Handmade. Textures. Whimsy. Real life. Batches of ten. Little narrative. Flaps. Doors. Discover things. Interactive. Engaging. Shocks. Surprises. Details. Quirks. Beauty. Musing subconsciousness.
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Joanna brought a collection of her work for us to look at. To attempt to describe them is to do them a terrible injustice. They need to be picked up, held, touched and explored.  Each piece is a visual treat.

Oranges Are The Only Fruit: The basis for Joanna’s first Zine was the tissue papers used to wrap supermarket oranges in Italy. With their vibrant colours and screen printed logos, to Joanna, they are things of beauty.
Bingo Voyeurism developed out of a series of sketches done with friends at a Bingo Hall in Brighton. The characters she observed are collaged, drawn and interwoven with images inspired by bingo calls.
How to drive emerges from sketches done whilst a passenger in a car. Images are meshed with lyrics of the tunes played in the car.
Gabriella and Orlando is a more straightforwardly narrative based piece. A couple fall in love. The postcards and letters they send each other form the basis of the book. Their relationship cannot continue as they are both married to others, but their love transcends. They arrive at the astral plane in animal form, an owl and a pussy cat, and here they continue to love.
A Chronicle of the Last Journey records the final days of Joanna’s parents’ lives. Joanna undertook this project as part of the sketchbook project. It is a visual meditation on how we deal with death and dying in this country. http://www.sketchbookproject.com/sketchbookproject
The Lady Garden – The Book of Holes was triggered by memories of drives and walks with Joanna had made with her dad, when each member of the family would be given a polo mint, and they would have competitions to see how long they could make the polo mint last. Joanna riffs on the idea of circles and holes. The book is (literally) full of holes – 230 to be precise—smelling holes, looking holes, halos, sound holes, milk holes, cake holes.

Joanna’s latest project:  Joanna is currently working on illustrating sonnets written by her sister.

jo-cu-work

jamesJAMES MCKAY introduced us to Dreams of a Low Carbon Future a graphic novel that highlights issues around energy use and climate change.

James McKay is a comic artist. He illustrates for 2000AD and works on the science fiction title Flesh. He describes his work there as sometimes being ‘very blood thirsty and adolescent, but also it’s really fun.’ His day job, however, is as the manager for the Centre for Doctoral Training in Low Carbon Technologies at Leeds University.

How did the Dreams of a Low Carbon Future project come about?
Royal Academy of Engineering runs an initiative called Ingenious, which is set up to support projects that enable scientists and engineers to communicate their research and findings with the General Public. The Centre of Doctoral Training in Low Carbon Technologies in Leeds received £30k funding from the Ingenious scheme in April 2013 to produce a graphic novel about climate change and to distribute 5000 copies to the public, at festivals and through schools’ workshops.

Just seven months later, in Nov 2013, James McKay and his team launched ‘Dreams of a Low Carbon Future’ at Thorpe Bubble.

Who was involved in creating the graphic novel?

  • 370 school children from 10 different schools
  • 25 artists of all descriptions – illustrators, comic artists, writers, fashion designers, activist artists.
  • 40 Phd researchers
  • A dozen or so senior academic staff (international thought leaders in their field)

The Creative Process

  • Workshops took place with the researchers to explore how comics work and how they could use text and images to tell a story. The researchers were also trained to communicate with children so that they could effectively raise awareness of the issues in the schools’ workshops
  • Between May and June the project was taken to schools and ideas and images created by the children brought back to the labs. Themes began to emerge. The scientists were then asked to engage with the pool of ideas and examine if/how they could work.
  • During August the graphic novel was put together. The result was a cross fertilisation of ideas that came from 10 year old kids on one end of the scale, and eminent scientists, on the other.

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The resulting structure
When visioning the future, three themes emerged which shaped the resulting graphic novel:
1.   The vision of the bad future – where we get to, if we keep on going as we are.
2.   Good Future 1 – a technotopia in which humans have employed technology, at vast cost, to solve all our energy problems.
3.   Good Future 2 – a low demand utopia in which everyone has changed their behaviour to solve the environmental challenges.

‘The oldest task in human history – to live on a piece of land without spoiling it.’
Aldo Leopold.

‘Unless you change direction, you’ll end up where you are heading.’
Old Chinese proverb.

These two quotes, which are on the title page of Dreams of a Low Carbon Future sum up the governing ethos of  this project really beautifully.

Hannah, one of the Phd researchers on the project accompanied James in his talk. Hannah talked about how the project was very much about encouraging people to take ownership of the future and fostering the idea that changes can be made on a local and micro level.
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We then took a break. Chat. Chat. Browse. Sip. Sip. Chat. Chat. Nice.

chellaCHELLA QUINT @chellaquint
The final speaker for the night was comedy writer, performer, designer and artist Chella Quint, who talked about her work and passion for Zines. She also talked about the Sheffield Zine Fest – 15th March 2014. She has teamed up with Leeds Zine Fair to create her zinester dream festival, the Yorkshire Zine Weekender.

We were running a little over time, and I had to go catch my train back to Manchester so I sadly missed most of Chella’s presentation. Chella, I beg your forgiveness and hope that people will refer to the podcast to hear your full presentation.

Chella started her presentation with a really important point re. the correct pronunciation of the word ‘Zine’ which is ‘Zeen’ as is ‘Magazine’ and not, as some would have it, Zyne, or worse still, Zin. Correct all offenders. It is the least you can do.

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Chella gave us a great introduction as to what a Zine is – cheap, fun and friendly; they are egalitarian. You don’t have to be a great artiste to produce them. They are for everyone.
I found the following slide, which Chella presented, a really useful guide to understanding the form.

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It was then time for me to leave….

Thank you everyone for a really informative, entertaining and inspiring evening.

Laydeez do Comics London, 17 Feb 2014

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Hello, I’m Sonja Todd, and the reason I’m guest blogging for Laydeez Do Comics is that I recently began to draw comics after years of just being a fan, and I love to hear the stories of other creators. Last spring I drafted a comic about a work trip to New York, and took Emily Haworth-Booth’s excellent course at the Prince’s Drawing School, Drawing the Graphic Novel. I’m currently doing another great graphic novel course run by Simone Lia at Number 57, and I’m keeping a comics diary.

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My top tip? Diary strips come easier a day or two later when you’ve had a chance to digest everything. So long as you make some daily notes on the day’s happenings : )

I don’t have much work online yet, but you can follow me on Instagram or Twitter.

One of the best bits of Laydeez Do Comics is when everyone in the audience has to answer a question. This month it was ‘What have you learnt recently?’ My favourite answers were:

Arabian Nights wasn’t written by an Arab in Arabia.

Cruella Deville is a play on ‘cruel devil’.

Men are twice as likely to be left-handed than women.

When you TP someone’s house, it doesn’t mean turning their house into a teepee.

The ravens in the Tower of London can live for up to 50 years.

The smallest screw is so small, you could fit 47,000 of them into a thimble.

To turn a wine bottle into a vase, soak some string in nail varnish remover, wrap it around the top part, then set it on fire. The top pops off really smoothly.

Please don’t try that last one at home without at least looking up more in-depth instructions on Pinterest, or achieving fully-fledged adulthood.

Cliodhna Lyons (pronounced ‘Cleenah’) describes herself as a “comic book tourist”:

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She let us flick through three tiny notebooks in which each page is illustrated by a different comics artist she met on a trip around the world:

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She showed us some beautiful screenprinted comics from Cambodia, where comics were often printed on the back of old bus timetables and shopping lists due to a paper shortage after the fall of the Khmer Rouge:

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She told us about a new centre for comics in Hong Kong called the Comix Home Base which includes permanent artists’ studios on the top floor.

Her approach was to simply email comics creators ahead of her arrival asking to meet up. People responded enthusiastically, which was delightful to hear. The number of sketchbooks she filled with her own work on her trip was an impressive 8 1/2:

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Cliodhna’s enthusiasm for travel made me want to jump on the next train to Mongolia.

A. Dee stands for the Artful Dodger, which is an apt name for a street artist who dodges around the visual world, from graffiti and airbrushing via calligraphy and Wacom pen to 3D animation and comics. He showed us how trying new forms and techniques gives you a bag of tricks to take wherever you go. Comics is still quite new to A. Dee, and he’s already mixing in photography and digital art. He described his main comics challenge as “working out visual flow”. You’re not alone, A. Dee.

He talked about masked characters being known more for their masks than what’s behind them. I love Miffed, the evil twin he created inspired by Miffy:

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This Miffed character morphed into a masked rabbit who is the star of A. Dee’s comic-in-progress. My favourite bit was when A. Dee explained he’s given his character a painting of herself that is hung on her wall “like a mirror”. All art and stories acts as a kind of mirror so this was a neat touch. Also, look at the level of furry detailing you can get with a Wacom pen!

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In the break I spoke to a lovely lady from the British Council’s literature division who plans to introduce more graphic novels into their programmes, which is great news. It should help more UK artists to international recognition, and give them extra sources of income. Hurrah British Council!

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The thing I liked best tonight was the way Steven Appleby (who you’ll know from his regular Guardian strip) presented his work as Obsessions. Steven’s obsessions are secrets, things beneath the surface, thinking and thoughts, pointlessness, meaninglessness, and death. He takes all those dark angsty existential thoughts that murmur away beneath most people’s surface, and reveals them in such a lighthearted way that you don’t mind having them. His work often appears frivolous and surreal, but is actually philosophically provoking. And also really funny.

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He likes “messing around with identities and the idea that nobody is quite what they show you.”

In the late 80s and early 90s, Steven made “pictures that were quite hidden”, including a whole exhibition called Icebergs about what is hidden below the surface.

There was a magical moment when he revealed some comics his mum drew in her schoolbooks in the 1930s, which Steven wasn’t aware of until fairly recently. He obviously has the comic strip gene.

Steven made me want to list my own obsessions, which I did, and it felt creatively useful. I recommend listing yours too.

I asked him the old chestnut question, ‘Do you have any advice?’

“If an idea’s brilliant, you can draw it rubbish,” he said (hurrah!) and “go with your instinct and do what you want to do. Don’t second guess. I did a book about farting because I thought it might become a bestseller. It didn’t.”

Steven’s output is impressive – roughly a book a year for the last 18 years. His work has been turned into a stage show, a radio series (“I wasn’t a good enough actor to play myself!”) and an animation.

He said his books sell only just enough to warrant doing the next book, which may have been part-joke, part-truth, but we should all buy more Appleby to ensure a steady supply.

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Steven’s beautiful shoes.

From the whole audience, I’d like to say a huge congratulations to Sarah Lightman, one of the Laydeez organisers, on the birth of her first baby six weeks ago – we missed you Sarah! Thank you to Nasrin for stepping in on baking duties. See you next month everybody!

Laydeez do Comics Leeds, 25 Nov 2013

Hi, I’m Fiona Marchbank and I work as a freelance Illustrator and Designer and do comics projects for fun on the side. I was asked to guest blog at the Laydeez do Comics Leeds in November. I will say in advance, I’ve had a bit of time left alone with the sketches I did on the night before I’ve had to make this post, and might have gone a little bit overboard with the drawings. I regret nothing!

Thanks to Thought Bubble Comic Convention attracting artists (and attendees) from far and wide Laydeez was able to snag some artists who wouldn’t normally be able to make it up to Leeds but were here for the convention. The speakers were Gemma Correll, Paula Knight and Ian Williams.

First thing on the agenda was to wish Laydeez do Comics Leeds a happy 1st Birthday.

by FIonacreates.net

Unfortunately there was no cake, but there was soup on offer from the venue, Wharf Chambers, and that’s almost as good as cake.

Gemma Correll

Gemma was a requested guest through the suggestions forms, so it really can work to suggest artists you’d love to see speak at a Laydeez Event.

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“I thought I would start with pictures of my pugs”

Due to needing to catch an early train home, Gemma Correll was our first speaker, before the usual introductory questions. She opened with photographs of her two adorable pugs.

Though professing to not be very good at giving presentations Gemma was very engaging, enlightening us with a large range of work from professional and personal comics to illustration work.

Refreshingly, Gemma’s illustrations also make use of comic styling, a light, graphic approach and integrated text and image. Though she claims they’re not ‘real illustration’ but she gets paid for them anyway.

Gemma’s work revels in it’s spontaneity. She doesn’t sketch her work first, rather draws the final cartoons straight on paper, as her work needs that freshness that can be lost in excessive planning, sketching and inking.

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“They want to pet them, or ask if they can breath”

Gemma’s pugs play a large role in her comic work, where she has illustrated and made books about her pugs, and made little cartoons about their inner thoughts. Her book “A Pugs Guide to Ettiquette” is entirely from the point of view of her dog. Gemma also makes cat comics for Emirates Airline magazine.

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“I like their look of disdain”

Gemma likes to put in comic diary format things going on in her life. She talked about how she was useless at sport, yet was currently trying to do more and showed us examples of her diary work about sport.

As a previous fan of Gemma’s animal work it was great to be able to see a more diverse range of her work, and be able to talk to her before the meeting as she had to dash off fairly quickly after her talk was over to catch her train. It was fab that she made the effort to stay the extra time after the convention to speak to Laydeez do Comics.

After Gemma’s talk we then had the introductory questions, which this time was about characters or people to add (or remove) from the Comics Hall of Fame.

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“Godzilla is not to be taken seriously”

It was suggested that the balloon boob comic ladies of superhero infamy needed out of the hall of fame, and that Garfield, Tintin, Marjane Satrapi, Charlie Brown and the gang, Calvin and Hobbs, Jean Grey, Death from Sandman and Superman amoung others should be allowed in.

Paula Knight

The second speaker was Paula Knight, from the Bristol Laydeez do Comics. Paula was talking about her work on a graphic memoir, and her first slide was a scene from a motorway, chosen because it had “Leeds” written on a sign in the background.

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“The thing about memoir… it inevitably includes personal info about secondary characters, like my poor husband”

Paula’s work deals a lot with what it means to be female, as well as adressing some tough issues such as pregnancy and Miscarriage.

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“It’s not a very happy subject, but I enjoyed doing it”

Paula’s memoir (or the pages that were shown to us) really makes use of the illustrative nature of comics, sometimes needing to use no words at all to describe the storyline or feelings of the author. The illustrations are sometimes very detailed and sometimes very stark, using the right amount of detail to give impact to what she’s talking about at that time.

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“There’s a lot of silence about miscarriage”

While her topic was often sombre and heartfelt, Paula was very engaging and remarked that “It wouldn’t be Laydeez do Comics if I didn’t mention Vaginas”

Paula’s memoir is due out in 2015, published by Myriad Editions. While we were shown a lot of work in process slides, I am looking forward to seeing the finished product.

Ian Williams

Ian Williams is a comic book artist, physician and writer. He was presenting a talk about his approach to using comics within the medical profession to help doctors come to terms with the everyday realities of their job.

ianwilliams1

“You did not own up to [mental illness]”

He presented us parts of his soon to be published book, The Bad Doctor. It is a fictional story about a rural GP but contains some autobiographical elements with Ian’s history in medicine. Previously Ian has published comics under a pseudonym, Thom Ferrier,  to avoid patients recognising themselves in his work.

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“I didn’t want patients to know I made the comics and try to see themselves”

He also talked about his own struggles withing the medical industry and how comics have been his outlet for his thoughts about being a doctor.

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“I have a good memory. I suppose due to things that I cannot get out my head”

It was fascinating to hear Ian speak, especially as I come from a purely art background, and Ian approaches comics from a completely different perspective. His book, The Bad Doctor,  is yet another that I will be looking forward to getting my hands on.

Unfortunately I was unable to stay for drinks and a chat after the event as I had also spent the previous few days in a comics haze, first at the Comics Forum and then at Thought Bubble, and I was ready to pass out, but once again all the speakers were diverse and interesting and a good night was had, hopefully by all.

And here are some of the original sketches before I went a little nuts on them.

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I did my live drawing upon my recently acquired iPad, thanks to a wonderful piece of software by adobe, because as a predominantly digital artist I’m more comfortable with the ability to use colour and all that jazz, but mostly because I just got an iPad and I’m a gadget fan so I’m going to use this thing if it kills me.
My other work can be found on my portfolio. http://fionacreates.net

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!

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

Laydeez do comics, London, February 2013

I am artist Jacqueline Nicholls and I was the guest blogger at the February London meeting of Laydeez do comics. You can see more of my work on my website http://www.jacquelinenicholls.com/

Laydeez began that night with their awkward question which was which woman would you nominate for the Woman’s Hour power list of top 100 influential women. All sorts were suggested. Not surprising given the crowd, a lot of writers, artists and comics creators. but also fictional characters: Lucy from Peanuts, Kathleen Turner in Serial Mom. Historical figures: Cleopatra, Florence Nightingale, and woman who lived before the 20th century who had to live without the vote, modern medicine etc. And my personal favourite was “my mum. which makes sense if you met my dad.” With everyone sharing the awkwardness of public speaking, and with appetites whetted by hearing snippets of stories of inspirational women, it was time to hear the presentations…

Lora Fountain
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Lora grew up in America and currently lives in Paris. She presented us with highlights of her career, how it developed from creating her own comics, part of the underground comics scene, in 1960’s US to the work she is doing today as a publishing agent.

In the 1950’s Lora read comics in magazines. She did a masters in Public Health and was introduced through a friend to underground comics, “Fabulous Furry Friends Bros” and met Gilbert Shelton. She moved to San Francisco in the 1960’s a “magnet for loonies.”

She was involved with “Facts of Life Funnies” that included in it’s first volume Gilbert Shelton, Robert Crumb, Shey Flenniken (founder of Wimmen’s Comix) and others. It sold out and artists were paid $50 a page. Lora was also involved with the development of the influential Wimmen’s Comix, contributors included Aline Komsky-Crumb, Lee Mars, Diane Nooman, Trina Robbins and Carol Tyler. Wimmen’s Comix ran for about 30 issues.

In 1984 Lora moved to Paris, where she still lives and works. Lora described the different status that comics have today in France, compared with the atmosphere of something fringe and underground of former times. The French minister for culture opened the comics festival, and it is an accepted and respected art-form in Paris. She works as an agent for comics creators, and is also involved in securing translation rights to comics. This she sees as an important aspect for the global reach of comics, and stressed that a bad translation can kill a good book. Lora compared her work as an agent to a matchmaker, trying to place the right book with the right publisher.

Francesca Mancuso www.dreamsaddict.com
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Francesca grew up in Italy where she read and was influenced by a lot of Manga comics. She describes herself as easily distracted and  ‘The World’s Greatest Slacker’ (although given my timing of sending this in I think she has quite a bit of competition for that).

As part of The Sketchbook Project, an international project that gathers sketchbooks from artists, Francesca created The Little Sketchbook of Fears. A guide to 48 different phobias as illustrated by a charming, and very expressive, pot plant called Little Flo. The fears range from fear of being single, to fear of mushrooms, fear of the future, ‘ephebiphobia’ fear of teenagers, and inconvenient for a pot plant – fear of flowers.

Francesca is currently working on a comic called ‘Orange Juice’ – loosely about her experiences being in social situations here in the UK where the pub and drinking culture play an important part in social bonding, and herself not drinking alcohol. She wrote this auto-biographical work more or less in one sitting, describing being part of a fun ad agency in London that also made her sad, with unfriendly colleagues. As a non-drinker, trying to fit in with office life and the way they socialised, the fact that they only made friendly physical contact was when they were drunk, led to feelings of alienation and loneliness. The comic has a friendly office spider that pops up every so often, and there is a sweet drawing of it with a reassuring message “don’t worry.”

Steve Marchant
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Steve is a comics creator. He moved to London in 1986 ran the Cartoon Centre and has been a youth worker for 18 years. He also facilitates a comic making process for people to express themselves and communicate their reality. This is aimed at people who are marginalised, whose voices and stories are not always told from their own perspective. Steve also writes comics to educate and inform young people about various social issues. eg educating school children about state pensions and getting older. Told as a ghost story, why grandad can’t pay for things with a back to the future distopian Bladerunner future. His ‘Teenage Kicks’ for Lewisham Council was a project to provide information about issues such as drugs and pregnancy for teenagers, in a way that would be looked at rather than going in the bin. Despite being popular with the target audience this series was discontinued due to the council cutting the funding. His aim when working with teenagers is to encourage kids’ love of comics and to “graphically portray what is in their heart and mind.” Working with children, teaching basic skills and then reworking their drawings to produce something that demonstrates the children’s potential. Other projects include ‘Living’ a workshop in Wapping partnered with the charity Shelter that tells the stories of homelessness using real case studies. ‘Baby Love’ – a project for Watham Forest, working with teenage mums, describing the reality of life with a baby that was distributed to youth centres.

Steve’s more commercial work includes creating a character for the management books “Guru in a bottle” that he describes as best-selling but tedious. It seems the work that makes money is not as interesting or as vital as the work that engages with the marginalised, addresses social issues and relies on precarious public funding and charities.

Steve  runs Cartoon Classroom an online resource for cartoon/comics education,

Laydeez do Comics London, May 2013

rachaelballFirst up – Rachael Ball
Illustrator, comic book artist and blogger. Rachael Ball began her webcomic ‘The Inflatable Woman’ after treatment following a diagnosis of breast cancer.
At her Laydeez do comics presentation, she described how her zoo keeper, Dr Doolittle-like heroine ‘Iris Pink-Percy’ came about.
The story is “loosely based” on the author’s own experience, Iris too has received a diagnosis of breast cancer. Through Rachael’s surrealistic pencil drawings we see how Iris deals with this day to day (on first hearing the bad news, for example, she turns the volume control down on the world around her), the people she meets, the nightmares she has and her talks with the sympathetic penguins who come and serenade her beneath her window.
Currently Iris is about to begin her cancer treatment and her alterego ‘balletgirl42’, an internationally successful prima ballerina, has begun an online romance with ‘sailorbuoy39’.
Rachael uploads a new episode each month.
Follow ‘The Inflatable Woman’ and see more of Rachael’s work here:
cananmarasligil
Canan Marasligil
French speaking, Amsterdam based, translator and editor Canan (pronounced Janan) Marasligil is a multi-linguist of Turkish extraction and passionate reader of comics. She introduced us to comics and graphic novels from Turkey and the international comics festivals she’s helped to arrange. She believes that comics are a strong medium for freedom of expression.
As she grew up in Belgium, she said she saw the world “euro centrically”. This changed when she travelled to Algeria  and discovered some of the “other great stories happening out there”. This also fired her interest in comics when she fell in love with the work of an Algerian comics artist and translated her comic from French to English.
Canan spoke about the comics workshops she ran in schools as part of Islington Word Festival and how effective the medium was for helping young people to tell stories. She also showed us the comic she has written called ‘Muted’ which was illustrated through an online collaboration with an artist in Poland.
She is currently translator in residence at Free Word Centre in London and links to her work can be found here: http://cananmarasligil.com/
isobelwilliams
Isobel Williams
The final speaker this evening was Isobel Williams who presented a work in progress called ‘Pearls and Pills’. This is an autobiographical work which describes her experience with suicidal depression. “By the time I was 10 I knew I was depressed. I just didn’t know what depression was. It’s just something you can inherit”.
Growing up in the early 60’s she interweaves the news stories of the day such as the Cuban missile crisis (“Most people stock-piled tea and food. Mummy stock-piled sleeping pills”), Christine Keeler and the Profumo affair into her own family relationships and her inner thoughts of suicide by overdose.
She spoke of her early experiences with doctors and the drugs that made her hallucinate, a second suicide attempt at University (which resulted in her being unable to open a copy of Fahrenheit 451 for decades afterwards) and her decision in adulthood to get treatment.
Her life drawings can be seen here:
She’ll be presenting ‘Pearls and Pills’ to Graphic Medicine this July.
 
I’m Jessica Cheeseman. I make films (animations, documentaries, experimental), illustrate and paint.  Currently I’m cinematographer on a horror feature.

Making the leap to comics and graphic novels felt right and easy, I guess because they’re both sequential art. Last year I finished illustrating a collaborative graphic novel called Winterland. This year I’m planning a new one, probably drawing on paper instead of exclusively digitally.

Most of my work is available here: www.jessicacheeseman.com

 
It’s been great being this months guest blogger and I hope this short introduction to these three speakers will inspire you to check out their respective websites and substantial bodies of work.
 
I’ve always had a fantastic time at Laydeez do Comics and this month was no exception.