Eliza Fricker + Dana Walrath
On the hottest day of 2016 so far, we gathered in the relative cool, comic-adorned crypt of the Cartoon Museum.
The Awkward Introductory Question: Who would you get sweaty with?
Unsurprisingly, there were some cartoon characters that popped up from the audience – seemed appropriate.
Soon enough, we settled down to Eliza Fricker’s show-and-tell about her graphic novel, Just Getting Old.
Eliza Fricker – Just Getting Old
One half of design duo Baines & Fricker, Eliza wasn’t new to illustration but this particular project came from a deeply personal place. She began by telling us the story of her mother’s illness, which I quickly assumed to be early-onset dementia.
But over the course of the talk, we were made aware that this was something even doctors failed to diagnose correctly. Eliza’s clarity, raw honesty and strength shone through the entire talk, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who was riveted – and close to tears at times – throughout.
Her story made me really think about how mental illnesses, and illnesses of all kinds, affect the lives of the families and carers of those suffering. It also made me consider what makes us, US.
At one point in the story, Eliza breaks down in a medical appointment, exclaiming “She’s not my mother anymore!” She also made me consider the loneliness someone experiences who is going to visit a loved one in hospital, and the impact of this on every aspect of their life.
I don’t want to ruin the plot, but I will say that Eliza’s story is a must-read for anyone, not just those directly experiencing the pain of caring for someone with an illness.
Dana Walrath – Aliceheimers
Up next was Dana Walrath, who came with another story about the impact of mental conditions on not just the afflicted, but everyone around them. Dana Walrath is a medical anthropologist who taught at the University of Vermont College of Medicine, as well as an accomplished artist and writer.
Aliceheimers is her second book and has received great acclaim. She continues to speak worldwide about the role of comics in healing including talks at TEDx Battenkill and TEDx Yerevan.
Aliceheimer’s is about the period in Dana’s life when her mother came to stay with her and her family, having been kicked out of her apartment and in the throes of Alzheimer’s disease. Dana’s relationship with her mother wasn’t the best to begin with, and one would assume this period would have put even more of a strain on their relationship.
Instead, Dana told us through her wonderful whimsical pictures of Alice – as well as some utterly beautiful musical interludes (including an ‘Alzheimer’s theme song!) – how much the experience transformed their relationship. Like Dana described it, this is not a ‘zombie story’, like the typical account of someone suffering from Alzheimer’s.
Her aim, which I believe she excelled at achieving, is to remove the stigma built up around the disease. It’s de-humanising, and unhelpful. Instead she helps us see how reframing these experiences, we can find growth, forgiveness, positive change, rebuild relationships and work through difficulties.
I hope it’s obvious by now, but both these inspiring laydeez have created books that will undoubtedly change how you see mental illness and serve as beams of hope for anyone who is has a loved one with an illness.
Background on Cat Rose:
My background is in design and a up-and-down-and-up illustration business, and now I’m on a mission to help fellow creatives, mostly introverts like myself, who struggle with the ‘icky’ feeling that comes with self-promotion.
I’m currently researching the links between personality types and how we can use our self-knowledge to make the most of our creative style and strengths.
You can get an idea about the stuff I talk about at: http://thecreativeintrovert.com/ or say hi @creativeintro on Twitter!
Blogger: Becky Kidner
Hi, my name is Becky Kidner, an artist (who unfortunately also has a full time ‘proper’ job!) I gave a talk at the LDC Leeds in May 2013 which I thoroughly enjoyed! I talked about my main artistic practice which is my ongoing “Diary Drawing” project that I have been doing since September 2007, where I document every single day in drawings. I’m often quite behind, but I am determined to continue the project until I can no longer hold a pen! You can see the entire back catalogue of Diary Drawings from the very beginning, as well as other bits and bobs of my work on my blog: becky kidner.
This is a picture of me enjoying a cup of coffee!:
I am a big fan of LDC, I think it’s a fantastic series of events and so inspiring! I was very honoured to be the blogger for this event in September.
It was quite a slow start to the evening, there was a bit of a low turnout which was a shame, but still – I got myself an Apricot Sam Smiths beer (which I hadn’t tried before), laid out my pens on the chair next to me, got out my little Moleskine sketchbook and started to document the evening…
The regular ‘ice-breaking’ question this time around was “What would be on the postcard of your summer?” Some of the answers included: “Stuck in a Lab”… “Latitude Festival”… “Swimming in the North Sea”… “A Sun-Burnt Dad”…”Travels in Scotland”… (see finished piece at the bottom of this blog post for more answers!)
First speaker of the evening: Julie Brown
Julie works at the University of Leeds and is conducting research on the varying effects and impact of a forum such as Laydeez Do Comics. Julie is collecting biogrophies through interviews and would like to hear from you! please email her at: email@example.com
Second speaker: Annie Lawson
I have seen Annie at all of the LDC meetings I have been to in Leeds. She is a fascinating lady whose work spans a variety of mediums, including: knitted bees (that she sold at craft markets in her early days!), politicaly focused cartoons, illustrations for the company ‘Lush’, writing novels, making animations & creating amazing rugs! She also spoke of being an activist and possibly being wanted by the MI5!
Annie Lawson’s website: http://www.annielawson.com/index.html
Final speaker: Mick Kidd
Mick spoke of the body of work he has created alongside the illustrator Chris Garratt. They have collaberated together for many, many years – including a regular slot in the Guardian newspaper.
I really loved the style of Mick & Chris’ work together, the way they recycle old magazines / comics and other images to re-appropriate really interests me. Some of it reminded me a little bit of Art Spiegleman’s work who I am a big fan of!
Mick Kidd & Chris Garratt’s work can be seen here: http://biffonline.co.uk/
I’m very excited about LDC Leeds in November as Gemma Correll is speaking – I’m a big fan of her work so looking forward to that on 25th November!
There was a little bowl of sweets on the welcome table, so I grabbed a cheeky Werther’s Original on my way out of the door, and walked to the train station to go back home. Whilst on the train home I drew this man sat across from me:
This is the finished piece of work I made from my drawings of the evening, I put it together in a similar (if slightly looser) style to how I do my Diary Drawings:
Hello, we are
Ottilie Hainsworth and Eleanor George, two artists who live in Brighton.
On Friday the 5th July we rolled along to the Laydeez do Comics event being held in association with
Cartoon County and
Fourth International Conference on Comics and Medicine at
with our sketch-pads to draw what went on.
Partly due to the Comics and Medicine Conference there was a truly eclectic bunch of people in the audience, from France, Canada and the US as well as from all over the UK, ranging from Ph.D. students to Doctors, comic nurse who leads the Chicago branch of Laydeez do comics, writers and lots of artists. We had a keen sense of the buzz surrounding comics at the moment, and of their perceived relevance and general usefulness to more and more people, who are also having a go at writing and drawing their own comics.
First up to talk was Vik J.F., an Israeli artist. Her work includes sculpture and installation as well as drawing, and features imagery set in a limbo world where the people are faceless, which has grown out of her experience of war. She also showed work based on her alter ego called Emma Robbins.
Artist, performer and author Hannah Eaton gave us an amusing roller- coaster ride through her childhood obsessions with “Bunty”, “My Guy” (photo stories) and “Misty” comics. She said she had always wanted to believe in ghosts and monsters, and that these comics had fed that obsession. Myriad Editions have just published her first graphic novel “Naming Monsters”.
Emily Haworth-Booth is a comic artist and teacher who is working on a graphic memoir of her experience of suffering from M.E. She read some witty extracts on her collonic irrigation at the hands of a bullying nurse, and talked about the catharsis of creating such characters and extracting humour out of what had been a grim illness.
Nicola Streeten talked about her first graphic novel “ Billy, me and you.” published by Myriad Editions which is the story of the death of her young son, and described how this experience has formed the path her life has since taken. She is now working on a new book called “Choices”, about abortion.
Lastly, Sarah Lightman presented images and films from her own personal bible “The Book of Sarah” to be published by Myriad Editions.
Sarah talked about her drawings of objects, which she described as “visual haiku”. A drawing of a glass of water (half full ? half empty?) doesn’t actually change. “The glass of water reflects the way I am feeling.”