Women Humourists at Gosh Comics 22 August 2016

 

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Hi there! It’s Lana Le here, and I’m chuffed that Rachael Ball asked me to be Laydeez Do Comics’ guest blogger for August 22’s meeting at Gosh Comics. (Though I may have hinted a bit when I doodled the previous speakers and posted their faces + quips on my online sketchbook.)

Last week’s speakers : Cath Tate, Angela Martin, and The Surreal McCoy are all women cartoonists who use humour to comment on social issues, politics or current affairs. “I saw humour as a weapon.” said Angela Martin, describing cartooning as perfect for someone like herself, who likes to draw and is opinionated, but is too scared to be a stand-up comedienne.angela_martinAngela had studied textile design, but was inspired by a Claire Bretécher cartoon, in the Sunday Times Magazine about what women do on Sundays, to write her dissertation on women cartoonists. This led to creating her own cartoons, which were later produced as cards by Cath Tate and Leeds Cards.

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Cath Tate’s postcards began as mini protest posters against nuclear weapons and anti-homosexuality clauses. Originally Cath used photo montage, a technique she learned from Peter Kennard, and sold her postcards at alternative bookshops. She didn’t shy away from politically-charged topics such as reproductive rights or equality for women in the workplace. cath-tate_2bcath-tate_3bcath-tate_4b

Cath later expanded to calendars, Christmas cards, and a series of Fanny comics, a collaboration with Carol Bennett. Today Cath Tate Cards are greeting cards instead of postcards and are sold online and in bookstores.cath_tateThe Surreal McCoy (TSM) introduced herself by adding “You can call me ‘The.’” A self-proclaimed “gag artist”, TSM (I never learn her real name) tells us that it’s essential to know a little about a lot to be funny.

the_surreal_mccoyTSM, actually a musician who became an “accidental cartoonist” when she doodled while travelling on tour busses and it led to a second career when they started getting published in magazines and newspapers such as The New Yorker and Sunday Times. “I wish I could’ve chosen a more sensible second career like accounting.”the_surreal_mccoy_2

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Catch The Surreal McCoy doodling in public at The 1066 Country Cartoon Festival in Hastings on 16 October.

Perhaps see Angela Martin directing a theatre festival (her current focus).

Next year, see more of all of their work in Cath Tate’s passion project at the Cartoon Trust — an exhibition showcasing the work of women cartoonists from its beginning to the present. We can’t wait for another excuse to celebrate Laydeez Do Comics.

 

London Laydeez Do Comics, September 2014

Hi! I’m Pete Hindle, the blogger for the September 2014 London edition of “Laydeez Do Comics”. I’m an artist and part-time writer, living in rural Bedfordshire, and I’ve been coming to LDC for about a year now.

Returning after the summer break, this was the second Laydeez do Comics at the new Foyles location. The old Foyles, with it’s wigglydy pigglidly floorplan, was much more fun, but the seats in the lecture theatre were torture. For anyone who hasn’t come to the new venue yet, I’m glad to report that now the furniture is much kinder to your butt.

Every session of LDC starts with a question, so that the audience know what it’s like to be nervous and speak in front of the whole room. This time, the question was ‘what was your best piece of advice’, and loads of good advice was given out but I didn’t make any notes on it. When this was finished, Nicola looked out over the crowded room, and asked if I’d write this blog because the person who is supposed to do it hadn’t turned up.

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The first presenter was Kate Evans, talking about two of her books. Just published, (By Myriad Editions, who published two of her previous books The Food of Love and Funny Weather) is Bump, a book about childbirth  in a choose-your-own-adventure comic format. I thought this looked great, and was very impressed by Kate’s reading of panels depicting the childbirth process. As Kate stood at the front, saying words like “screaming, pooping, orgasming…” I thought to myself that there could be no more ‘Laydeez Do Comics’ experience than this. Then I remembered I had brought two friends with me and this was their first experience of Laydeez that do Comics. Oops! It’s ok though, I checked, and my friends said they enjoyed themselves.

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Kate then went on to talk about her biography of Rosa Luxemborg, a work in progress, and showed us some of her rough drafts. Finally, she finished off by showing us a few pages of the Luxemborg book that she had worked up to publication standard, and dipped into her extensive research on the topic. If graphic novels about strident female Communists in pre-War Europe are your thing, than this is the book you have been waiting for.

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Next was Paddy Johnson, talking about his self-published comic Long Division. Paddy is also a writer and academic (here is his recent essay on Julia Wertz’s career), and he spoke about his shift away from writing fiction into drawing comics whilst studying creative fiction at postgraduate level. His work reminds me a lot of the style of Alec Longstreth, another comic artist heavily into self-publishing.

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Then, mercifully, it was time for cake.

We were originally told that there would be no cake in the brave new world of Foyles, but at the last minute a reprieve was given. God only knows how Sarah managed to cook a huge apple cake AND an enormous chocolate cake so quickly. If it had been up to me, there would have been an enormous pile of flour and cooking apples, and I would have told people to mix up the ingredients in their stomachs.

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After the break, I felt a bit sleepy and maybe I had to loosen my belt a bit, so my notes were not as good or comprehensive. Which was a shame because Matilda Tristam gave a great talk about her new book, Probably Nothing, (Penguin) a history of her treatment for cancer that she received during pregnancy.

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Not only is Matilda a likeable force when presenting her work, but her book is hilarious. The cartoonish style presents some of the most serious things that we face in life – births and deaths – and we’re lucky that she was here to talk about it with us.

Laydeez Do Comics Leeds – Monday 19th May 2014

Hello! My name is Becky Kidner. This is my second time blogging for LDC Leeds (first was for the 30th September 2013 meeting, which you can see here). Tonight it was an impromptu volunteering job from me since there wasn’t a designated blogger for the evening! To see more of my work, please visit my website.

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(last time I put a picture of me enjoying a cup of coffee, this is me enjoying a different cup of coffee!)

 As I mentioned in my last blog post, I gave a talk at LDC Leeds in May 2013 and really enjoyed it. I love Laydeez Do Comics and really enjoy attending the groups. I have missed the last two for one reason and another so was super pleased to be back and listening to interesting and inspiring people talk about their work!

I made a little zine from the evening, only because I had forgotten my notebook and needed something to make notes on!

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The meeting started very promptly at 6.30pm, at the always lovely Wharf Chambers (such a cool little place).

Introductions & ‘The Question’…

This meeting we had a choice of two questions: ‘What’s your Favourite Colour?’ or ‘What was the last thing you drew?’ We had the following answers: Blue… Orange… Red… A Roulette Wheel… Green… Blue… Red… Purple… Red… Blue… Blue (as in nature blue, not political blue) … Yellow… Purple… Pink… friends face in chemistry… an underwater scene… a racoon peeking from behind a fence… 90 photo fits of Peter Sutcliffe… green… a 99 ice cream with a tentacle instead of a flake… girlfriends birthday card.

First Speaker: Kate Ashwin

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I heard Kate talk at my very first LDC meeting in January 2013. Kate has an online web comic ‘Widdershins’ which is a fantasy adventure comic set in 1830s Britain. Widdershins proved to be really popular and gained a loyal following, which allowed Kate to use Kickstarter to fund two printed books: ‘No Rest for the Wicked’ and ‘Vanishing Act’. You can see Kate’s Kickstarter profile here.

Kate has since gone onto crowd source funding for other projects, including a book in collaboration with other artists “Cautionary Fables and Fairy Tales: Africa Edition” which you can see here.

Kate suggested a good PDF downloadable book for anyone looking to crowd fund a project in this way: “Lets Kickstart a Comic (& not screw it up)”. Kate also suggested another site for crowd funding: Patreon.

A discussion was had about the methods Kate uses to draw her comics. It turns out she uses a tool called Manga Studio, which you can pick up for around £20-30 on Amazon.  The fact that it’s called ‘Manga’ studio shouldn’t put anyone off, as any style of comics drawing can be done using this software. It’s easy to create frames and speech bubbles and Kate says it has saved her countless hours previously spent on Photoshop amending ellipses!

It was suggested that for a future LDC meeting a demo of this and other tools/software people use to make their comics could be had – people seemed keen on this idea, so watch this space for a demo meeting in the future!

Links to more Kate Ashwin:

http://www.kateashwin.com/  | http://www.widdershinscomic.com/ 

Twitter: @katedrawscomics

Second Speaker: Darryl Cunningham

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I also heard Darryl speak at the LDC meeting in January 2013! Last time around, Darryl was talking about first two books: ‘Psychiatric Tales’ which is a combination of his personal experiences with depression, and also of his experiences working on an acute psychiatric ward. His second book ‘Science Tales’, “debunks popular myths and exposes the lies of scientific naysayers and conspiracy theorists”.

Today Darryl was talking about his upcoming book: “Supercrash: How to Hijack the Global Economy”. It will be launched at the Lakes Comic Festival in October this year.

I absolutely love Darryl’s drawing style and his humour. With this new book Darryl spoke of making a conscious effort to make his drawings better and use colour effectively. It definitely shows, as the colour palette is very striking, and the drawings are fantastic to look at and deceptively simple.  I particularly love the cityscapes.

I really admire how he tackles huge topics with such a lightness of touch – making amusing and easy to understand comics from complicated and difficult subjects.

One thing which I found particularly interesting in what Darryl showed us was the panel illustrating what percentage of funds the government loses due to benefit fraud, versus what is lost on tax evasion. It was startling to see it laid out in this way, so infuriating too about how the media mis-represents things like this.

Another thing I took from Darryl’s talk was that liberal minded people are by nature, a bit messier. Thanks Darryl – at least now I have an excuse! : )

Darryl’s website: http://darryl-cunningham.blogspot.co.uk/

 We re-joined the meeting after a short break and had some announcements…

Announcements

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1. HOAX My Lonely Heart – a musical stage performance by Ravi Thornton, directed by Benji Reid, composed by Minute Taker. The show accompanies the graphic novel “HOAX Psychosis Blues” which Ravi spoke about at the last LDC Leeds meeting in March. It’s open4-7th June at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester. Booking now being taken

2. Laydeez Do Comics is 5 Years Old! On Tuesday 1st July in London. Places are free but you have to book in advance:

3. Sarah Lightman: Symposium for Jewish Comics Makers: If you are interested in participating in this, please get in touch with Sarah:

4. Hebden Bridge Open Studios: Our LDC Leeds chair gave a bit of shameless self-promotion (nowt wrong with that!) as she is taking part in the Hebden Bridge Open Studios, along with Annie Lawson who spoke at LDC Leeds in September. Open 28th, 29th June & 5-6th July 2014. Details can be found here

5. ‘Violence: A Conference in Comics’: Click here to download the call for papers. Deadline for abstracts is 14th June 2014.

6. DIY Cultures Zine Fair : I did my own bit of shameless self-promotion as I took part in this zine fair (Sunday 26th May in London). You can find out more and keep an eye out for next year’s event here

7. Lakes Comic Festival & Thought Bubble: Two great events comic up in autumn this year. LDC have a stall at both of these events. Find out more here: http://www.comicartfestival.com/ http://thoughtbubblefestival.com/ .

8. LDC Collaborative Zine: It would be great if we could put together a collaborative zine to sell at Thought Bubble & the Lakes Comic Festival. If you are interested in this idea (details a bit sketchy atm!) please get in touch! Bex_purple@msn.com .

9. LDC Speakers Wanted!: If you would like to give a talk about your work at LDC Leeds, or have an idea of someone you would love to hear from – do let us know! It can come off, as we found out when someone suggested Gemma Correll (Gemma spoke at LDC Leeds in November.) Please email: laydeezdocomicsleeds@gmail.com 

 That was it for the announcements and we were on with the third and final speaker…

Final Speaker: Jacky Fleming

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Quite a few of the audience members had come to tonight’s meeting specifically to hear from Jacky. I had seen her at some of the past LDC meetings and was really interested in hearing from her. I don’t massively see myself as a feminist, or pretend to know a great deal about feminism, so it was an education for me to hear from someone who is so well respected in these circles and who very clearly is a feminist.

Jacky started her talk by showing us some pictures of her studio – I love seeing where people work, and Jacky’s studio looked fab! I especially loved her shelves where she keeps all her postcards, and how all her pens were lined up in order (I do this too with my pens!)

Jacky studied Fine Art at Leeds University, and once submitted a drawn essay. She told us of some of her artistic influences which included Ronald Searle and John Glashan (who she described as a genius). I can definitely see similarities reflected in Jacky’s work, and I really do love her style, it seems very loose and free (though we heard it takes hours for Jacky to draw them!).

Jacky was first published in a feminist magazine called ‘Spare Rib’ (you can pick up old copies of spare rib on ebay). She said that the first original artworks she submitted were cited as being the worst the editor had ever seen! I would have loved to see some of the original drawings, where she had covered over mistakes and used ‘MistakeOut’ (I learned that ‘MistakeOut’ was invented by a woman, very interesting factoid! Find out more on the subject here).

Jacky did a series of illustrated ‘incidents’, things that happened to her, and do still happen to women on a regular basis (e.g. flashing – particularly when the sun comes out). Jacky said there is a “shared space of understanding” in a cartoon and that she sees her illustrations as “Pictorial Activism”. There’s a whole series of Jacky’s cartoons, a lot of them featuring business men in suits, depicting casual sexism and the hypocrisy visible in our society.

There were some parallels in Jacky’s cartoons to what arose in Darryl’s talk, with regards to MPs and bankers with their overblown salaries and bonuses- stealing from the general public whilst saying “look over there! A benefit cheat!”

Jacky made a series of postcards, many of which are still floating around today! The postcards were collated and published into a book “How to be a Bloody Train Driver”. 

Jacky currently works on various illustrations and cartoons, such as “Every Day Lesbophobia” featured in Diva magazine. She also has a series of greetings cards available.

Jacky’s website: http://www.jackyfleming.co.uk/

Before the meeting finished, all the speakers were thanked, and our host Louise Crosby was thanked too and given a round of applause for all her hard work in setting up these meetings and making it happen every other month- THANKS LOUISE! You do an awesome job and we love LDC Leeds! : D

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Date of Next Meeting:

Monday 21st July 2014, speakers so far confirmed: Ben Dickinson & Janice Goodman

I’m currently working on a finished piece of tonight’s meeting. Last time it took me ages to get round to finishing and posting, so I thought I would post the blog post up now – and I’ll add my finished piece on here once it’s done!

Laydeez do Comics Leeds Meeting- 31st of March

Hi! I’m Julia Brown, a second year visual communications student at Leeds College of art. My fourth meeting at ‘Laydeez do Comics’ in Leeds commenced on the 31st of March in the beautiful Wharf chambers.

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(Here is a little illustration of two of this event’s speakers- Clare Shaw and Louise Crosby (who you’ll read about shortly) I wanted to illustrate all those who spoke but ran out of time!)

The theme of this evening was “Comics and the Senses”. Ian Hague, Louise Crosby and Clare Shaw, Ravi Thornton and Dr Matt Green gave three wonderful presentations. All three presentations introduced different sensorial approaches to comics that I had not been aware of- very exciting!

Ian Hague, author of Comics and the Senses: A Multisensory Approach to Comics and Graphic Novels.  He spoke about his research into multisensory ways comics can be approached -stimulate all the senses and enhancing the experience of reading.

I have to admit before listening to Ian speaks I did have the preconceptions the comics and graphic novels are exclusively visual, now I realise what a ridiculous idea that was!

My mind was opened! This understanding of print as something a lot more tactile can really enhance a reader’s reception to the mutli-sensory stimuli. I really started to understand this idea more sufficiently when Ian spoke about digital books- many people (including myself) prefer to read from a printed book but I never really assessed why I preferred this. It is because I hade became unfamiliar with the idea that the printed book brings with it multiple sensory experiences that enhance the visual text, tow of these include smell and touch- these elements completely transform the readers experience- this is why it is so crucial that this understanding of multi-sensorial experiences must be utilised!

Ian’s (currently) two issue comic book series “ABPositive” can be found here: http://abpositivecomic.com/. He spoke about how the potential downloadable and DIY print/assembly of the comic is a way of enhancing the viewer’s sensory experience. Variations in printing tools, paper, and assemblage open up ways of immersing the reader into a new literary experience. This expansion an utilisation of this economical and DIY distribution process allows the reader to participate in the comics formation, their sensorial experienced of hearing and touching etc. navigate the comics formation I think this is a very exciting element of consideration. A standardised format exists within the comic world for various reasons, this is probably most likely for budget reasons, but comics don’t have to be standardised! Every single one can be unique!

Ian talked about comics he had known that had used scented and edible paper! Very notably, he spoke about how these sensorial experiences don’t always necessarily have to be pleasant. He spoke about the example of how in Ren and Stimpy they had scratch off smelly elements, which smelt of things like kitty litter and wet dog. He then spoke about motion comics, as these are very popular for comic fans due to the are multi-sensory elements. This use of motion is just one example of how we navigate space throughout a comic and transform the story. There are infinite possibilities to be explored.

As soon as Ian had finished it was question time. One question he was asked was whether if as a writer Ian feels that the juxtaposition of senses in comics is possibly an over compensation – it is an example of how a writer may have failed to evoke senses within the literature alone.

Ian’s answer to this was really reflective- my mind was imploding with new ideas at this moment! He spoke about how not all comics will utilise sensorial elements in a way that works well. He mentioned about the use of musical scores within comics- the comic requires a performance to the reader- it’s incomplete without it. Rather than trying to challenge the literature element of the comic he is trying to challenge the comic medium. The challenge of this medium is giving a new experience beyond literature.

The next set of Speakers Louise Crosby and Clare Shaw fitted the theme of the night perfectly. This collaboration between Clare as a poet and Louise and Illustrator was fascinating. Clare’s poetry is performed a long side Louis’s comic illustrations- very multi-sensorial indeed! This was also the first time this performance had happened at a comics event.

Louise and Clare briefly introduced their practice before their performance. A print maker for years Louise has always been scavenging for subjects to print. She spoke about poets like Patti Smith really inspired her as a person and practitioner. However, it was frustrating wanting to explore poetry that potentially had a thick wall of copyright restrictions around it. When Louise finally meet Claire a year later she found a way in which she could make images from her poetry free of these restrictions.

Claire as a well as being a poet is a mental health adviser, trainer and consultant. She spoke about the connection between her role as a poet and someone who works in mental health. A personal quote I found from her website explains this pretty well,

“Poetry and mental health might seem like very separate careers. They aren’t. Where they meet is in my passion for language; a passion rooted in my own experiences of lacking the right words to describe who I was, what my life was like, and what I needed. As a young person growing up in difficult circumstances, I found a means of expression in self-injury and other difficult behaviours. Later in life, I discovered how I could make language work for me; as a means of expression and communication, a way of walking in other people’s shoes, learning about – and changing – myself and the world around me. “

I find this really beautiful; I was excited to hear her poetry. The first poem she read entitled “Poem for a Bus Shelter” and her second “You” were bother personal confessions. “You” spoke about Claire’s pregnancy, as Louise’s imagery showed up a long side Claire’s performance you could see Clare’s visual descriptive words and use of allegory come to life.

Louise’s illustrations based on poem from bus shelter can be seen here:

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Poem for a Bus Shelter – Lou Crosby. Illustration of poem by Clare Shaw (2009/2010)

During question time Clare and Louise were asked whether Clare responds to Louise’s images in some way. Clare spoke about how she didn’t really respond to the visual images created but see them as a wonderful way to transform her poetry and the images have influenced how she feels about her writing.

A poem that she wrote called “Tree” which she didn’t really like very much was transformed into something she looks at in a completely different way, making her think about her writing more. Clare was also asked if she ever thinks that she may have been tempted to write her poems using imagery that she feels Clare would illustrate well. Clare said about how that really was not the case, she thinks about her poems as poetry, not as anything else. She said how her poems are often rather dark and bleak- difficult things to illustrate, she enjoys seeing how Louise formulates this type of poetry visually.

Louise was also asked about whether after hearing/reading a poem she instinctively knows what she’s going to draw straight away or how/when does she know what she wants to draw. She answered saying how it varies. The way she approaches each poem is different. She goes to as many of Clare’s readings as possible, each time she hears things she hadn’t heard before of finds new interpretations. She spoke about one of Clare’s poems called “Night” which talked about where Clare grew up. Louise had a very different approach when trying to conjure of the imagery for this piece- Clare and Louise both arranged a day trip to Clare’s hometown where they photographed her area and worked from these. When hearing about this I can imagine this would have been a rather emotional trip to make, showing someone the physically remains of a difficult past would be a bizarre and very personal experience.

In terms of medium Louise did mention how her use of digital drawing has been a conscious one, she feels digital drawing allows for more mistakes and errors, there is more scope for the them to be resolved. In her own words “in other mediums there is no ‘undo’ button.”

Clare also spoke about how this choice of medium is frequently met with hostility. Louise see’s comparisons between etching and digital drawing. She spoke about how digital art is only now beginning to be appreciated is a legitimate mainstream art form- still many digitally illustrated books struggle to be published as the medium continues to be dismissed. She said about how etching as an art form (which has now been accepted in the mainstream art world) took 100 years to be really appreciated.

Our third set of speakers where Ravi Thornton & Dr Matt Green – Ravi is a award winning cross-media writer whose work includes the graphic novel ‘The Tale Of Brin & Bent And Minno Marylebone’. Ravi spoke with Dr Matt Green (an academic from University of Nottingham) who is working with Rami on several projects.

The first project they talked about was Ravi’s multi- sensory graphic novel the “Tale of Brin and Bent is a dark story accompanied by haunting imagery by Andy Hixon and a composed soundtrack. Ravi read the official description of her novel aloud,

“Brin and Bent are poolkeepers at The House for the Grossly Infirm. Their days are spent abusing the House residents with bleach and chlorine, spying on them through holes they have drilled in the walls. They do not know that someone else comes to the pool at night: Minno Marylebone, a child like no other.

Pure and beautiful, every night the child enters the water and becomes celestial, laughingly riding the currents as the pool turns into a sea. Then one night Brin and Bent find the wax that has spilled from Minno’s candle and decide to lie in wait….”

Matt spoke about how the house is an allegory about sanity addressing ideas of how we address mental illness. It makes us think about how the institutionalisation of people can reflect how we see them culturally. Matt spoke about how , “The way we think about art can really transform our social landscape.” He spoke about how William Blake as cross media pioneer and comparing Rami’s work to this idea. Blake created something very tactile with his work and had been known to sing his poetry as well as paint it.

Rami and Matt spoke about Brin and Brent being an autobiographic work means that you must give something of yourself to complete it. The piece itself is very much like a memoir. Much of graphic medicine is like a memoir and has been considered to be a piece of graphic medicine as is addresses health issues in this way.

Andy Hixon’s visuals for the book we were shown by Rami in her presentation, they were absolutely captivating, I find they really managed to mirror what seems to be a disturbing piece of work. Rami talked about how these illustrations enhanced and pushed the literary narrative even further. Both these images and the novels accompanying soundtrack transforms the reader’s experience. The font that had been used for the novel had also been developed from Rami’s brother’s own personal handwriting further enhancing the readers experience.

The soundtrack was composed by pianist and songwriter, Othon. At the meeting we didn’t get the chance to hear the soundtrack but Rami spoke about the experience of working with Othon and emotional satisfaction and appreciation she had for this audio component. This element took aspects of the story and pushed them even further. As I write this blog post I’m currently being listening to this soundtrack (which can be found here: http://ravithornton.com/) and becoming partially immersed in the beautiful world of Brin and Brent. I can’t wait to read this novel.

A review from broken frontier talks about this project more eloquently than I ever could,

“Transcending its physicality as a printed object, Minno Marylebone is a project you don’t so much read as immerse yourself in. Daring, disturbing and awe-inspiring, Thornton and Hixon’s opening entry into the world of graphic novels is an experience you simply should not ignore and, in a field of quite extraordinary nominated work this year, a most deserving winner of our 2012 Best Debut Award.”

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The novel managed to transform an autobiographical event. It is very easy to get very emotionally involved in the piece you are creating; the metaphorical aspect creates practical distance for Rami as a writer.

Personal events may be the basis for the work but once the event has been executed through the work it goes beyond the personal event, she is more distant from it. She is consciously achieving something that is more distanced. The basis is fact but it had been fictionalised. These takes the piece further and further away from it’s origins.

Ravi’s current project HOAX is a cross media project, which is a musical stage performance and a graphic novel. She wrote this touching project about her brother who killed himself with schizophrenia. The first part of the story is a stage performance and the second part is a series of poems based on the experience and looks at the actual personal poems Rami’s brother did write- during his illness her brother Rob wrote many poems. My Lonely Heart a musical stage performance, and HOAX Psychosis Blues a graphic novel. Both the performance and play will be released in June. The play will be performed at the Royal Exchange in Manchester from the 4th to the 7th.

The stage performance primarily uses dance to tell the story. Rami said how she finds the medium of dance moving and raw- t is the perfect way to tell the first start of the story; whilst she feels sequential art is the right way to tell the second half.

The artwork for HOAX Psychosis Blues is by ten different artists; she enjoyed working with a variation of work.

As mentioned earlier, this novel has been considered to be in the arena of graphic medicine.

“When I’m creating I’m responsible for making the story everything I feel it needs to be, but whatever my audience takes from the piece is up to them, it’s nerve wrecking to put something so personal pout there.” Rami

I’m certainly very excited for the release of Hoax- what an amazingly touching interdisciplinary project!

Well, that brings this March’s meeting to an end! Us at Laydeez do comics enjoyed some drinks at the end after being enthralled in to the multi-sensory worlds of all the speakers tonight. There was not one dull moment! These practitioners all working in such multidisciplinary way have got my very excited about comics and have me thinking about them in an entirely new way! I think that’s a great thing!

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…

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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”

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“I always lose stuff in my hair” by Keara Stewart

Francesca Mancuso by Keara Stewart

Francesca Mancuso by Keara Stewart

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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