Category Archives: Women
Laydeez do Comics Leeds is a graphic novel forum with a focus on comic works based on life narrative, the drama of the domestic and the everyday. EVERYONE…men and women…welcome to the bi-monthly meetings, the first of which is happening on Monday 26 November, 6.30pm-9.30pm at Wharf Chambers, 23-25 Wharf Street, Leeds LS2 7EQ. Tickets are priced £1.50 and refreshments are available from the reasonably priced bar. Whether you are new to comics or already a fan, the evening includes short presentations from guest speakers and offers an inspiring experience in a social atmosphere.
Guest speakers at this inaugural meeting are Steve Tillotson, Griselda Pollock and Nicola Streeten. Steve Tillotson is an artist and co-founder of the Leeds Alternative Comics Fair. He is also runner-up in this year’s Observer/Jonathan Cape/Comica Short Story Prize 2012 (which means that he actually came second, because this prize identifies one winner and one runner-up). Griselda Pollock is Professor of Social and Critical Histories of Art, University of Leeds. Writing on feminist theory and visual culture, her forthcoming books include A Name for Myself: Charlotte Salomon’s Theatre of Memory 1941-42. Nicola Streeten is an artist and author of the award winning graphic novel Billy, Me & You. She is also co-founder of Laydeez do Comics.
The original Laydeez do Comics launched July 2009 in London, set up by Nicola in collaboration with the artist and curator Sarah Lightman. It is the first women led graphic novel forum in the UK. Artists, academics, publishers and fans from around the world are invited to speak. It is a platform for people to test new works and ideas, where emerging artists present their work alongside more established practitioners. Each month the meetings are recorded by invited guest bloggers.
Laydeez do Comics Leeds is a sister branch of the original Laydeez do Comics. There’s also a sister branch in San Francisco. You can find out more, including recordings of past talks by guest speakers, drawings by guest bloggers and lots of useful comics related links at http://www.laydeezdocomics.com/.
Louise Crosby and Helen Iball
Laydeez do Comics Leeds
Some time in 1976 I received a phone call from a Frenchman in the comics industry, who lived in New York and was somehow connected to various comics venues. He told me that a new magazine was being published in France, featuring women cartoonists, and that he could get me into the publication by acting as my agent and taking a percentage of my pay. That was fine with me, until shortly after that I received a letter from Jean Pierre Dionet, inviting me to contribute to the magazine, which I now learned was to be called Ah! Nana, a pun on the word for pineapple and French slang for girl. Needless to say, I never had to pay the French guy a thing, and it was pretty sleazy of him to even try to make money off me.
From the first issue, I was thrilled to be one of a handful of American women  included along with a galaxy of brilliant European women cartoonists. My God, I was being published in France! I had really arrived!
The process of female integration into French-language comic strip (or bande dessinée) creation in the twentieth century was slow, with women linked to this domain much more likely to inhabit the role of illustrator for children’s books. In the late 1970s, however, as Claire Bretécher and Annie Goetzinger made their mark as pioneering but exceptional female creators in the Francophone medium, a new publication appeared with the potential to expedite the slow inclusion of women artists into the bande dessinée by providing an unprecedented vehicle both for semi-established and previously unpublished female creators to present their work. The journal Ah! Nana did not fulfil this potential, however, and after falling foul of strict censorship laws and the restrictive economic sanctions that accompanied them, folded after only nine issues.
Ah! Nana was certainly short-lived, producing its first issue in October 1976 and its last in September 1978, however, as the only journal in French history created entirely by women featuring regular bandes dessinées – although male artists were occasionally invited to contribute – it constitutes an innovative experiment in the development of the adult Francophone BD. In spite of this, it has, like so many other female-led artistic endeavours, been largely ignored in chronologies and encyclopaedias of the Francophone medium. Patrick Gaumer’s 2004 Larousse de la BD does not mention it at all, whilst the 2003 BD Guide devotes one short paragraph of its 1525 pages to the journal, simply noting its creation by women, the name of its editor Janique Dionnet , and the fact that it was eventually censored.
Women in Comics I and II have been unique events inspiring, informative and celebratory. We are committed to honouring women’s contribution to comics, and hosting women comics creators from the UK and abroad – both those who have been pioneers in the field and those currently forging new directions in the medium today.
In 2009 Women in Comics I was held at The New Hall Art Collection, Murray Edwards College, University of Cambridge. We welcomed from Belgium, author of Faire Semblant C’est Mentir, Dominique Goblet, and also Melinda Gebbie, artist of Lost Girls, who noted of the day: “I never knew Cambridge could be so much fun!”
In 2010 Women in Comics II was hosted as part of Comics Forum, in Leeds Art Gallery. We heard from Suzy Varty who edited the first all-women comic in the UK in 1972, and we borrowed the front page of her publication “Heroine” for our programme’s cover image. We also hosted Maureen Burdock from Santa Fe, New Mexico, whose comics “The F-Word Project” have social consciousness as their message and take superheroines into a whole new dimension. Penneviender (The Penfriends), a Danish feminist separatist comic book art group showed us what women comic artists are producing both individually and collaboratively in Denmark. We also had an exciting array of comics scholars including Professor Teal Triggs, author of Fanzines, and Dr Mel Gibson, National Teaching Fellow and a great supporter of Women in Comics conferences.
Women in Comics III will take place at the University of Glasgow in Autumn 2012. We look forward to seeing you there!
Sarah Lightman (Chair),
Catriona MacLeod, Rikke Platz-Cortsen Nicola Streeten, Hattie Kennedy and Emily Rabone (Committee)