Laydeez Do Comics, April 2015, London

I am Peter Hindle, you can see my diary comics here http://petehindle.com/post/90149848764/i-didnt-even-know-bees-could-poop  I’m sure that, like me, you’ve often wondered what type of radio the presenters at Laydeez Do Comics would be and I thought I would be able to answer it in this short blog-post.

LDC-April-1

Laydeez Do Comics was introduced, as ever, by Nicola Streeten, but Sarah Lightman sadly couldn’t make it. This is sad, because Sarah bakes the cakes, which are excellent, but also because I had worked out what kind of radio would be: a Blaupunkt Bristol 27 car stereo. Compact, functional, and excellent typography.

blaupunkt Bristol

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First up tonight was the indie comics powerhouse, Elizabeth Querstret, who talked about finding her way into the comics community, why she makes the individual comics that she makes, and why creativity (and actually making things) is so important to her. Obviously, Querstret would be a Yaesu FT-60E, a portable handheld unit that can both receive and send ham radio communication.

yaesuLDC-April-3

Next was Nicola Streeten herself, who gave a fascinating talk about the history of feminist comics. This forms the basis of her PhD research, and she talked us through some of the forgotten and hidden gems of these politically important comics. In terms of radios, Nicola would be the groundbreaking Beolit 600, a radio designed so far ahead of it’s time it looks good next to an iPhone.

beolit600

Finally, Ian Williams came back to Laydeez Do Comics to tell us about his dual career as a comic book author and doctor, and how Laydeez Do Comics had been essential to helping him realise his comic-making ambition. He talked about his excellent new book The Bad Doctor out now with Myriad Editions.  He also talked about how graphic narratives are incredibly useful for explaining medicine in a way that reached out to a larger audience, and he explained the graphic medicine movement that he has been at the heart of. Ian is, of course, a Sony ICF-SW100, the famous Sony radio that is practical for international travel, useful in an emergency, and has the smooth clean lines famous of 1990s Japanese design.

sony_icf-sw100 LDC-April-4

Finally, I’d like to give an honourable mention to Keara and Wallis, who’ve been so patient with me (and such excellent behind-the-scenes organisers). If they were turned into radios, they would be a matched pair of Regency TR-1’s, the shirt-pocket transistor that made it fun to listen to radios everwhere.

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Laydeez do comics are 5

I am Simone Lia. I am a comics artist and illustrator and the author of Fluffy and Please God Find Me a Husband! Both published by Jonathan Cape. You can find out more about me and my work from my website and blog http://www.simonelia.com I was invited to be the guest blogger for the big birthday…

What better to place to celebrate the Laydeez Do Comics 5th birthday than in the brand new swanky flagship Foyles store. I oohed and ahhed upon entering the building in the welcoming environment with its wide staircases and open spaces that allow you to read books in an informal and buzzy setting.

Taking the lift up to the 6th floor I was surprised when Guardian journalist Laurie Penny stepped in. I think it was her. She’s quite famous for being a feminist and having lots of opinions.  I didn’t want to gawp but from my peripheral vision I could see that she was standing right in my face looking at me. A bit intense.  I thought perhaps this was a method that famous people use to intimidate normal people.

Laurie Penny1

In the end it turned out that I was facing the wrong direction in the lift and was blocking the door. Classic lift faux pas.

The events room on the top floor is extremely slick and modern.  It wouldn’t have been a surprise if the evening had kicked off with Sarah and Nicola arriving on the stage on rising podiums in a fog of dry ice. They didn’t do that but instead emphasized the essence of what Laydeez Do Comics is about. And that is a place where the audience matters, everyone feels connected and a community is created.  Thanks to Nicola and Sarah; Laydeez is a welcoming forum for inspiration, creativity, sharing and learning.

Nicola made a rousing and inspirational speech that acknowledged the humble beginnings in 2009 in a place with a leaky roof.

Nicola, opening speech

Personally, I remember it as a cold, concrete floored room on Brick Lane, with rain filled buckets and dirty faced children, wearing rags who sang about pick-pocketing techniques and Nicola singing, I dreamed a dream.  At least I think that’s what I remember…

Laydeez has kept it’s integrity of connectivity and has flourished, impressively growing in numbers with branches throughout the UK and Internationally. Look at how many places it’s popped up at!

international

Tonight was a celebration of this and bringing together some of the organisers that run Laydeez here and abroad.  Before the speakers spoke we viewed Sarah’s epic home made birthday cake.  It would be the last of those cakes. From now on it’s going to be Foyle’s fodder.

cake

Anna Brewer artist and the Glasgow Laydeez organiser, was the first speaker. Anna is from London, she lives in Glasgow and was in the States for 25 years. Through her work she explores areas that she lives and does very unusual and playful research as to what kind place it is that she’s living in.  She finds out the kind of chickens that live there and what kind of farming machinery is used.  Through making artwork she is able to connect and share her experiences with others and convey her own emotional experiences.

Anna Brewer

I loved Anna’s unusual outlook and the way that she, for example can compare combine harvesters to a line of chorus girls. You can see her sensitive and beautiful drawings here and more drawing here.  What resonated was Anna’s drawings of a little frog who sometimes, she describes, is a devil frog who voices what is going on in her head.  The inner critic.  I used to try and ignore him but now I let him say everything and it takes away his power. 

Anna makes artwork for her HP who, like a loving parent appreciates and values what she does.  At first I thought HP stood for Hewlett Packard.  Perhaps it was time for me to switch printer brand?  Epson just doesn’t do that kind of empathy.  But then Anna explained that HP stands for Higher Power.  My thoughts were that her work then not only becomes a gift to her HP but also a gift to the audience. It did feel like that upon viewing. Thanks Anna!

Next up was a slide presentation about the F Word project from Maureen Burdock, presented by Sarah and Nicola. Maureen Burdock runs Laydeez do Comics in San Fransisco. To see more of her work about and the F Word Project take a peak here

Louise Crosby who runs Leeds Laydeez do comics was next up to show us her work.  I had a massive blog fail at this point as I decided to draw in my sketchbook without taking notes/photos and listen properly on the recorder afterwards.  My recorder didn’t work and this drawing is horrible (!)

Louise Crosby

It was a great presentation, Louise talked about her work and accidental start into comics from her print making background and her new arts council funded project Seeing Poetry.  Louise has been illustrating the poems of Clare Shaw.  What struck me whilst listening and making awful drawings in my sketchbook, was the sensitivity that Louise brings to the relationship of image and poetry, particularly, I felt, honouring the silent and unspoken words of the poem.  You can see Louise’s seeing poetry website here.

We watched a video interview between MK Comic Nurse and Nicola. Comic nurse runs the Chicago Laydeez.  MK is a nurse, a comic artist, illustrator, photographer and she talks a lot about comics. You can see that video here.

Paula Knight, who runs Bristol Laydeez do Comics talked about her upcoming book The Facts of Life, that will be published by Myriad Editions.

Paula Knight

Paula had been to a comics convention in Bristol in the mid-naughties.  She’d felt too female and too old but had found that there were similar people at Laydeez.  Old? Nicola asked. Everyone laughed heartily.  Paula found more than she identified with the type and content of work being made and shown at Laydeez do Comics.

Paula’s artwork is engaging, accessible and brave. She’s widely been exploring themes of fertility particularly with her own, in her artwork.  She showed us some drawing that she’s been making for The Facts of Life. Rather cleverly Paula made spin off comics to take to conventions, this got her involved in the event and she received feedback for the longer form of her work. She is very brave, I think, exposing such personal subject matter to a broad and potentially undiscerning audience. “I received interesting feedback” she said one man pointed at the artwork, pulled a face and ran away.” Another woman read through the whole book and pulled disgusted faces through out. Paula thinks she might have been offended but I wonder if that was the case, there was clearly something about the quality of the artwork that compelled the lady to read straight through.

Sarah Lightman, co-founder of Laydeez do Comics, artist, and curator is researching a PhD in comics at the University of Glasgow in autobiographical comics; “The Drawn Wound, Hurting and Healing”. She is also a new mother to Harry.

Sarah showed artwork from The Book of Sarah, her memoir that will be published by Myriad Editions in 2015.  It’s the unwritten book of the bible, “there is a book of Daniel, and there is a book of Esther, but not of Sarah,she says commenting that her siblings have the same names and she is the youngest child, wants what the others have. In her work Sarah draws parallels between herself, late(ish) motherhood and baking. Her biblical namesake and her book will intertwine the two characters, contemporizing and positioning her Sarah in the centre.

Sarah also talked about her touring exhibition of autobiographical artists –Graphic Details coming to London this September that will be showing work from artists that that you might not know of. Sarah’s desire is to change the culture so that as artists we are referencing each others work in talks and the papers that we write, and in doing so creating an art history that hasn’t been written yet.  She has a solo show in America September and October.  Last year Sarah was working on the Graphic Details, Jewish Womens Confessional Comics in Essays and interviews, published by McFarland later this year. Sarah is doing this to fill the spaces in the libraries with voices that have never been recorded before.

Maura McHugh (Splinster) Laydeez organiser from Dublin who was not there in person, had a powerpoint presentation. She has a life long interest in sci-fi and horror fiction and is among many other things, the co-writer of Witchfinder which is a five issue mini series published by Dark Horse Comics.  Maura says “horror has been good to me”. You can see Maura’s work here.

Finally we had the other co-founder of Laydeez do Comics, Nicola Streeten.

Nicola asked the question in 2008 – where are all the women in comics?  This is the issue that bonded her with Sarah Lightman and prompted them to start up LDC.   Nicola talked about her latest work which is a commission from The Collection Gallery in Lincoln.  They asked her to work with people who wouldn’t usually visit a gallery and Nicola chose to work with offenders in HM Lincoln prison. Working with other peoples’ stories rather than her own narrative brought about new writing challenges.

Paula had touched on this subject earlier. She’d been working with the transcript of a cancer patient for a research project called The Phoenix Project.  The man was suffering erectile dysfunction due to the treatment that he was receiving – having not met or spoken to the man, Paula’s question was whether she had pitched her sense of humour at the right level. Whether she was being sensitive to his story.

Nicola had a different set of difficulties of a more practical nature.  She’d planned to work with the children who were visiting their fathers. Everything was set up but she found that it was difficult for the children to participate. It was partly the age difference of the children (from 1 to 12) but mostly it was because the children had come to visit their Dads. Nicola had to adapt her approach and the angle that she was coming from, and was invited instead to work directly with a small group of offenders.

As part of Nicola’s PhD research she is setting up Graphic Cultures. It’s a website that will be a platform for comics works that engage with social and political issues. It’s being launched  with Dr Nina Burrowes, who has created a free comics book online telling stories of people who have experienced domestic violence and rape.

The evening was concluded with some chit chat and then being booted out by Foyles staff. It was a brilliant craic, a proper celebration. I came away feeling very inspired and impressed by the artwork that I’d seen and was really impressed at the bold, yet humble vision of Sarah and Nicola.  They have succeeded in executing with confidence and excellence bringing people together and giving those who might be on the fringes, or unnoticed –  a voice and a platform.

So from everyone who has experienced Laydeez do Comics and been inspired or made friendships or been helped in any way,  a massive thank you!  Thanks to Sarah and Nicola and all the Laydeez do Comics organisers. Thank you for all of the hard work that you’ve put in.  We very much appreciate it.

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