Earlier this week, Turnaround’s Clara and Heather headed down to the latest Laydeez do Comics event to report back on the word-on-the-street from women making comics.
Here’s Clara’s run down:
This month, Laydeez Do Comics was held at The House of Illustration, where the Comic Creatix exhibition is currently housed.
As such, attendees of Laydeez were offered the perk of entry to the Comix Creatix exhibition prior to the event for a discounted price of £5. I didn’t manage to take advantage of the discounted exhibition offer, because it was very important to me to make time to eat a burrito before the event started. (Being hungry at an event is a very stressful thing that I fear and try to avoid at all costs).
However Heather, and my friend Alison*, who joined us did, and had very good things to say.
Everyone I know who has been to see Comix Creatix – including me – feels that they haven’t been for long enough. I saw the exhibition a while back on the press preview night with fellow Turnaround marketing staffers Jenn and Leo and our marketing director Claire. Despite the entire venue being bedecked with hand-drawn wonders, the only picture we managed to take that night was of Jenn and I next to the singular non-descript wall in the whole massive venue.
That night, I managed to see enough of the exhibition leave with a warm sense of validation at how important women making comics about their own life is, and how broadly it has featured in the history of graphic novels, but was unable to read many of the descriptive plaques as I was crowded out by the people whose work was on display taking selfies with it. (God bless you all, selfie-taking women artists, you are important and I am always happy to step aside for you). I remain desperate to go to the exhibition again and read all the plaques, though.
How great Comix Creatix is – and how important it is to go, then go again – now established, let’s move on to discussing the actual Laydeez Do Comics event. The night kicked off with a presentation from One Beat Zines, the feminist zine distributor run by ‘mutual friend-crushes’ Julia Scheele and Sarah Broadhurst.
Here at Turnaround, we have a lot of respect for distributors. Why, it seems entirely unbiased to say that they are the under-appreciated glue who hold the whole publishing industry together.Without them, there would just be cool things in creators’ bedrooms, and empty shops. God, distributors are great. One Beat Zines are no exception.
In a shy, funny and deadpan style, Julia and Sarah talked the crowd through their story so far, touching on how they select work to distribute, what their editorial policy for their own anthologies is, and what defines their taste. In all cases, the answers could be summarised as ‘people sent us something, and it made us feel excited’.Their talk served as an encouraging reminder to everyone in the room that you don’t have to have a clear, conscious vision to begin working on a project, you just need to have some momentum.
Neither Sarah nor Julia had snappy, memorised answers to what they liked or why they liked it, yet it was a pleasure to watch them bounce of each other on stage as they tried to describe something as inchoate as taste. What was clear was that One Beat Zines had emerged out of their friendship; that the pair trusted each other and worked largely on instinct. I took away that One Beat Zines is a labour of love whose creators genuinely like each-other and are excited by the work they’re sent.
Next up was Corinne Pearlman, Creative Director and Graphics Editor of Turnaround-distributed publisher Myriad Editions. Corinne spoke about the full breadth of her work in the comics industry, starting with her work with Comic Company on health education, moving to her autobiographical work as a cartoonist for The Jewish Quaterly, then progressing to her role at Myriad.
Corrine Pearlman Self Portrait
The most poignant comment for me from this portion of the evening were Corinne’s remarks about her role as an editor in opening creators eyes to what’s possible for them. Relating this back to her own work as a creator, she meditated on how she had never thought she could do a column – until someone asked her to do one. I left with a lot to think about in terms of how the creative process works, and why it is that women are more often discouraged from participating in it than men.
If you want to hear more talk from Turnaround about comics, you can follow our dedicated comics twitter here.
Read more about the Comix Creatix exhibition here.
*Aside: Alison runs the very excellent organisation Yes Arts (www.yesarts.org). Yes Arts runs informal skill-share sessions for young people either working in creative professions, or wanting to work in creative professions. Obviously accessibility is a massive issue in publishing and in the creative industries in general. This small org does its bit to chip away at the ol’ boys club by encouraging people without previous connections to meet each other, and by running cheap sessions where they can try out new skills. Check it out if you’re reading this and feeling a bit lost and alone in trying to get into the creative scene. We think it’s cool.