Laydeez do Comics Glasgow, Wed 21 October 2015, Glasgow Women’s Library

The last Laydeez Do Comics Glasgow meeting of 2015 took place in The Glasgow Women’s Library on October 21st, and having spoken at a previous evening I was pleased to come back this time as a guest blogger for speakers Lise Tannahill and Becca Tobin. Despite bad weather and delayed trains a great night was had, so without further ado here are my notes on the evening.

Image 1 - Lisa Tannahill

First up was Lise Tannahill talking about her PHD research into regional French comics, which included travelling to Corsica and speaking with locals and comic-creators. Lise started off by explaining that as French comics developed completely separately from American comics, they’re an excellent viewpoint into French culture and national consciousness. This has allowed Lise to study the representations of French regions within the larger national culture, the island of Corsica in particular. She gave a brief history of the island: Corsica oscillated between being part of France and part of Italy for a long time, finally ending up part of France. During the 20th century a number of factors lead to the rise of a nationalist movement amongst the island’s population, and in the later half of the century this developed into armed resistance against French rule which continues today.

VLUU P1200  / Samsung P1200

VLUU P1200 / Samsung P1200

Lise then went on to speak about two mainland French comics (“Asterix In Corsica” and “L’Enquete Corse”) and the stereotypes about Corsica they portray. The Corsicans in Asterix are proud and easily offended bandits who hold silly grudges. “L’Enquete Corse”, which was produced in 2000, updates the stereotype to the modern day. In this book Corsicans are balaclava-wearing terrorists who don’t even blink at the constant explosions and violence taking place regularly on the island.

Image 3 - Aleria 1975

Moving on from the French national view of Corsica Lise spoke about DCL, a publisher based on the island. They’ve produced comics about Corsican history and folklore, which portray the locals as they see themselves rather than through the stereotype-ridden lens of mainland France. Lise then explained that more recent books published by DCL have moved away from their previous politically neutral stance, and have told both fictional and non-fictional stories about Corsican nationalism. One in particular, “Aleria 1975”, retells a key historical event in the Corsican Nationalist movement and includes transcripts and interviews from eye witnesses, so it functions as a historical document as well as a comic. (As a cool aside, Lise actually met one of the “main characters” from the comic during her stay on the island.)

Lise concluded her talk by pointing out that because comics are a huge part of French culture, DCL are doing quite a subversive thing by using this national-renowned medium to tell stories which disagree with the views and opinions held by mainland France.

As someone who has zero knowledge of Corsica (and very little of French comics generally) I found Lise’s talk fascinating. She did an excellent job of summarising histories and background information, before going on to talk in detail about her studies. The contrast between how a region sees itself compared with how it’s seen on a national level is really interesting, and Lise’s personal anecdotes about her experience staying in Corsica added an extra dimension to her presentation.

Image 4 - Becca Tobin

The second speaker of the evening was Becca Tobin, a comic artist and illustrator whose work was shortlisted for the British Comic Awards “Emerging Talent” category in 2014. Before she began, Becca described her presentation as a “pep talk” for those who are new to comics or who just need some encouragement. She spoke about how historically comics have been “disposable”, starting off in newspapers and being thrown away once they were read. Despite some looking down on the medium because of this, Becca discussed how disposability is actually one of the comic mediums strengths. The cheap and DIY nature of comics has resonated with lots of underground and counter culture scenes, with low budget zines and books being produced by individuals rather than big publishing houses. This means that today comics are as varied as the people who make them, produced by individuals as well as teams and tackling topics fun, deep and everything in between.

Image 5 - Frontier

One of my favourite quotes from Becca’s talk was “Everyone can and should make comics”. She gave a series of tips for how to make comics, such as drawing every day, taking inspiration from real life and not worrying about being “good” at drawing. Regardless of what skill level you start out at, you can make comics. Becca then spoke about how the internet can be a great resource for artists to share their work and connect with and learn from other creators. She also included a side-note about internet usage as an artist that really resonated with me – don’t let yourself be intimidated or discouraged when you see other artists who are “better” than you. Everyone has different styles and levels of experience, so if you start comparing yourself to others online in a negative way, step away from the net for a while!

Image 6 - Meals

One of my other favourite quotes from Becca’s talk was this: “Comics can be used as tools to understand things, and as a way to have fun as an adult.” She concluded her thoughts on comics with a final piece of advice: start by finding something that makes you feel something, and then take that and use it in your work. Becca’s presentation was very fun and enjoyable, and she had produced a series of lovely watercolour illustrations to go along with each part of her talk (Including a drawing of a cat riding on a dog – something I never knew I needed in a powerpoint presentation until now). Comics are definitely a labour of love, and over time it’s easy to start feeling worn down as a comic creator. Pep talks like Becca’s remind you of why you started making comics in the first place, and renew your enthusiasm. As someone who’s been making them for a few years now, I really appreciated it.

Becca has a really beautiful drawing style. Working traditionally rather than digitally, she combines her inked linework with beautiful watercolour washes. You can see more of her work here: http://beccaandthebox.com/

Blog by MJ Wallace

https://www.facebook.com/MJWallaceComics

Laydeez do Comics Glasgow: 22 July, Glasgow Women’s Library

We were in the cosy surroundings of Glasgow Women’s Library for our July meeting. Our first speaker was Adam Murphy, a Glasgow-based comics artist, writer and illustrator who has been a full-time comics artist since 2011. He is the creator of ‘CorpseTalk,’ in which he digs up famous people from history and interviews their reanimated corpses, and ‘Lost Tales,’ in which he re-interprets unusual or lesser-known folktales from around the world, both for The Phoenix Children’s Comics Magazine. He is also a contributor to IDP:2043, a collaborative graphic novel dealing with climate change, societal inequality, mechanisms of privilege and one very awkward dinner party. adammurphy.com

Our second speaker was LDC Glasgow co-founder Anna Brewer, attending her last meeting before heading back to California – she will be much missed. She has worked as an animator, art teacher, art handler, muralist, illustrator and cartoonist. Moving to rural Idaho in 2006 she set up a small business selling prints, calendars and greeting cards of her artwork. She became fascinated by the farming, showed her work at farming conventions and held art shows at the John Deere dealership. She also created a monthly cartoon, “Palouse Report”, in a local paper. facebook.com/AnnaBrewerArtist

Our blogger for the night was Fionnuala Doran, who contributed the live sketches below.  fionnualadoran.com

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Laydeez do Comics, Glasgow, 8 March 2015

The first Glasgow Laydeez meetup of 2015 took place in The Old Hairdresser’s. Having hithero met in a community centre, we were pretty excited about having access to beer. Our March speakers were Eilidh Nicolson, Adam Smith and Letty Wilson. Eilidh Eilidh’s comic Girls from Mars has the mission of depicting “trans people as actual people, not walking punchlines or drama bombs”. It follows six characters and deals with specific trans issues, as well as issues common to all. Girls from Mars issue 1 Eilidh showed us some of her earliest drawings, demonstrating there’s been transgender characters in her comics ever since she was reading Peanuts and Garfield as a kid, and making comics based on Power Rangers.

She considers herself more of a writer than an artist, but it was through drawing she came to terms with her identity as a trans woman – somehow with words, she was able to ignore that reality.

Similarly, with her work for LGBT charities where she uses material like the Hens Tae Watch Oot Fur zine to campaign and educate, she says audiences seem to “get” her message once they see visual imagery. She also reflected that comics are a great medium for her since she feels her writing lacks detailed description, so images fill those gaps.

Eilidh went on to talk about the representations of trans women she had to negotiate growing up – hypermasculine, all stubble, giant jaws and legs akimbo. And when she looked for examples of trans people in comics, all she could find was Batwoman’s roommate. r-DC-COMICS-TRANSGENDER-BATGIRL-large570 At first she chose to draw her own characters without eyelashes and with Adam’s apples, as she felt she had to mark them in some way with “tells”. Now, as illustrated by the Q&A at the top of this blog, she simply draws a woman – occasionally slightly taller, but that’s it. Some of the issues Eilidh highlighted reminded me of the historical depiction of non-white characters in comics, drawn in contrast to normative white characters in a grotesque and exaggerated way.

Eilidh’s talk was humorous and reflective, and it was inspiring to hear her say she’ll be writing about the Girls from Mars characters for the rest of her life. Having now purchased and read issue 1, I’m a fan. The drawing style is bold and iconic, the pacing’s great and the writing witty and engaging. Issue 1 introduces us to the back stories of various characters via the device of a group with a slightly bossy chair prompting members to reflect on their year. Follow Eilidh’s work at http://heyitsayls.tumblr.com.

Adam delivered an informative and entertaining presentation on the long-running British newspaper comic Flook, proclaiming it our Peanuts or Calvin and Hobbes. Adam Flook featured a neotic piglet/mole/elephant creature, created in 1949 and drawn by Wally Fawkes under the penname Trog. It ran until the 1990s, appearing for the majority of its run in The Daily Mail. Flook was scripted by several writers, including Compton Mackenzie, Barry Norman and Keith Waterhouse, but perhaps the best-known was art critic, jazz singer and bon viveur George Melly.

Flook was originally a children’s strip, with storybook escapades featuring Flook and his human friend Rufus foiling smugglers and the like, but after a few years, the strip grew more subversive and satirical. Under Melly, Flook became a stand-in for George himself, a dandy navigating a London full of sharp social observations and class stereotypes. bigflook Wally drew Flook for 40-odd years, yet he and his creation are little-known even to comics fans. In 2013 the London Cartoon Museum programmed a talk by Wally as part of a Flook exhibition. The turnout was tiny – smaller even than this, Adam said kindly, with a sweeping gesture round the room – even Wally didn’t show up. However the curator offered to put Adam in touch with Wally, and the subsequent phone interview led to an article in The Comics Journal.

Adam finished his talk by generously inviting people  to “discover” Wally and Flook for themselves so that he can get annoyed about it. You can read Adam’s full article here and read some strips on his Flook Facebook Group. (And although he didn’t mention it on the night, Adam’s own comic, Khaki Shorts, co-created with Rob Miller, will soon be collected into an anthology – like the Facebook page to get updates.)

Lastly, Letty of Panel Comics talked about how her identity as an asexual and aromantic artist has influenced her characters. After Letty graduated from the MLitt in Comics Studies at the University of Dundee, she formed the publishing company Panel Comics with some friends, and is currently working as an artist on several titles, including Cosmic, scripted by Erin Keepers. Letty Letty asked the audience if we were aware of any asexual characters in popular culture. I lamely suggested Sherlock Holmes, but Letty pointed out that Sherlock does have a love interest, and indeed Steven Moffat, the show’s writer, has said he’d find a truly asexual character uninteresting to write. Sheldon from Big Bang Theory, and Lord Varys, the eunuch from Games of Thrones were some other examples, and Letty commented they are notable for their lack of humanity.

Letty takes a more positive line on asexuality, saying that as the most important relationships in her life are friendships, she enjoys putting friendship rather than romance at the centre of her stories. An obvious way in which to explore asexuality is the autobiographical “coming out” comic and Letty showed us a comic titled What I’m Not that she submitted as part of her MLitt course. (One of the captions that caught my eye was ,“Asexuality Myth 1: You only feel that way cos you can’t get a date…” Read the comic in full here.) But her own interests veered more towards monsters and fiction, and, she explained, the fantasy/quest genre is perfect for friendship narratives – think Lord of the Rings. cosmic

Letty went on to speak about her collaborative approach to character design with Erin on Cosmic, which features an alien-human hybrid called Rinette. They consciously decided not to make Rinette white, which they found in turn altered the development of the character itself. As Cosmic unfoldsRinette will encounter an asexual human character and learn that not all earthlings are the same.

I love Letty’s artwork – her inking is juicy and lush, and the colouring makes me think of decorative ceramics and mosaics – maybe because of the earthy palette of Cosmic. You can see Letty’s work on her sites, https://lettydraws.wordpress.com and http://lettydraws.tumblr.com as well as the Panels comics site.

Blog and illustrations of speakers by Heather Middleton

https://heathermiddletonillustration.wordpress.com/

Laydeez Do Comics Glasgow – Monday 10th November 2014

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. 001_Malcy 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.)   002_Gill 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.   003_Mhairi 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.

Laydeez Do Comics Glasgow – Monday 11th August 2014

Guest blogger: Tara Williamson

Hi there!

My name is Tara Williamson and I’m a Canadian illustrator living in Glasgow.
I was invited to do the blog for the Glasgow edition of the Laydeez do comics talk on August 11th. You can find my work on tumblr or my on my website.To start off, I’m a terrible person. I was late. As a Canadian, and a relative newcomer to Glasgow. I still manage to totally misjudge transit times and mess up connections. luckily, they hadn’t gotten much further than initial introductions and I hadn’t missed anyone speaking (phew!)
Gillian (from Team Girl Comic) had asked me to share my experience of the August 11 Glasgow Talk back at the beginning of summer and I agreed almost immediately. I checked out the blog and it looked like a lot of fun.
Comic creators in a ted-talks setting? I’m so in. I did some sketches and rough notes while each speaker was talking, hurredly jotting down notes in the semi darkness.
I then compiled these along with my recollections of each speaker and their talk into these 3 Gouache panels depicting each Artist.

ldcAugustGraham

 

First up was Graham Johnstone (gjohnstone.net). A long-time comics creator and the editor of the zine Dead Trees. He spoke mostly about his new ongoing project The curse of the yellow book.
Graham’s talk was as long and twisty as his proposed epic, weaving elements of mythology, literature and a myriad of other influences into a complex story that he was attempting to explain to us. He spoke briefly at the onset,about his start in comics and some of the projects he’s already completed. My favorite bit of his work is Tangled tales, an apt metaphor for Graham’s talk and a genuinely interesting comic, It consists of six panels with six variations per panel, with endless permutations the reader can alter the comic at will. Its hard to describe, I encourage you to check it out.

His talk mostly focused on his new project, which Graham is clearly passionate about. True to the title, the story features an incendiary  yellow book,
the narrative follows a boring sort of civil servant who’s life is irrevocably changed by the discovery of this book.
Beyond that I remember Graham’s talk as a series of fragmented images, and references to literature. Maybe it was intentional.
The whole talk had a dreamlike quality like much of his work.
ldcAugustLouise
Second up we heard from Louise Crosby illustrator and coordinator of Laydeez Do Comics in Leeds. http://www.lindenartstudio.org/artists/louise-crosby/
Louise comes from a background of Fine arts as an Illustrator and Printmaker. She introduces herself as a fine artist that sort of drifted into comics organically through illustrating the poems of her friend and collaborator Claire Shaw. They call their collaboration Seeing Poetry. She describes her work as a fusion of fine-art and comics, a sort of hybrid form, both and neither. Her early work featured prints with poetry and collages of words and images an early blending of the mediums that led to her later work that more closely follows the comic page format. She talks about the unique constraints of working with complete poems, the challenge and joy of her chosen format. She is passionate about the work of her counterpart, and throughout the talk it is obvious that they are a good team. Dedicated to showcasing the voice and vision of Claire, the poetry is always clear. I took away a sense of passion and consideration, an artist to the last.
ldcAugustMJ 

I already know MJ Wallace from Glasgow drink and draw, she is part of Team Girl Comic and a well known member of the Glasgow indie comics scene. She has a webcomic: Roller skates and breakfast dates http://rollerskatesandbreakfastdates.tumblr.com/ a simple and poignant 4 panel strip layout telling stories from her day to day life. Her comic is full of references to classic tabletop gaming comics and genuine human interactions.
Her work and her life are deeply intertwined one reflecting and influencing the other. She is a charming and enthusiastic speaker, describing how she got into comics, the challenges she overcame in accepting and showing her work. Rollerskates and breakfast dates is  a humorous and at times deeply personal account of MJ’s life.
MJ’s talk was brief but really encouraging to new creators. She talked about her shift in perspective that allowed her to show and print her work, developing a process that allowed her room to improve. MJ ended the talk on a fun and lighthearted note, a welcoming and encouraging outlook on the medium, the freedom of self publishing and the acceptance of the independent comics scene. I came away inspired re-vitalized  thinking about my own process, a perspective shift of my own.

All three speakers reflect such different voices in the Indie comics world. Different approaches culminating in a landscape for comics that is vastly different from the dated stereotype of mainstream comics. Demonstrating again that the game has indeed changed. Comics are for everyone, and creators can come from any skill level or background, there’s something for everyone out there, reader or creator.

inspiring stuff.

thanks guys!

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

 

 

 

 

Laydeez do Comics Glasgow, Monday 10th February

Our first Glasgow meeting featured excellent talks from Kat Lombard-Cook, Moogs Kewell and Neil Slorance, some excellent krispie cakes and top hats, and a small herd of elephants playing football upstairs – we’re assured they will be playing outdoors by the time of our next meeting! Thank you to our speakers and everyone who came along, and hope to see you next time on 12 May. Below is my blog of the night.

– Heather Middleton

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More information on our speakers: Kat Lombard-Cook, Moogs Kewell, Neil Slorance