Comics Workbook interview

Violet, the super-sleuthin’ pet detective from our Bitch Media series Don’t Be a Dick, graces the cover of the current Comics Workbook Magazine. (Check the crews’ Tumblr here.) She’s only one of many amazing inventions from the mind of Melissa Mendes, who’s interviewed alongside Anne Elizabeth Moore by Zach Mason.

Here’s a clip, on HATERZ:

AEM: As far as pushback, we’ve had, and have, a ton of haters. … What I think people don’t realize, or they would stop expressing any venom toward us at all, is that all that stuff is fuel. The dude who left the comment about stats being the last refuge of people who have nothing to say? Used that in a strip. GT66, who used to troll us with long and nonsensical arguments about … well, it was sort of unclear. Women, or something? That guy was *the best.* I miss him a little bit, because when you hit that wall of hate, the stakes get really clear. You absolutely for sure know that you are on the right path, and then, best part: the angriest people start telling you where not to tread next. Then you go there.

All that stuff has died down some now, and we’re getting to some kind of critical mass, at least about gender and comics (or maybe more accurately, women and comics). There’s clearly a ton more to do: I haven’t seen anything yet that makes me believe the current conversation, which we obviously helped start, will result in permanent change. In the early days—just a few years ago!—it was sort of amazing. All the other folks in the crew had, like, no qualms about any of it. Nicole Boyett, Rachel Swanson—they would stay up all night reading hateful comments about us to each other and laughing. We even did a puppet show of them. Esther Pearl Watson designed most of the puppets from stuff she found on the ground in a field.

MM: I personally I haven’t had any haters (that I know of) on this front—just people being generally confused about when other characters are boys or girls, and one kid being genuinely mind blown by the fact that one of my characters, usually depicted in black and white, had “brown skin”.  Usually it’s kids that are the most honest.  They’re like “Is that a girl or a boy?” And just the fact that they are genuinely, and not hatefully, asking that question about a book they enjoyed makes me feel good.

Spotlight on Sheri Klein

What Women Think and Feel About Their Bodies

Sheri Klein contacted us recently, and sent us these kind of great drawings. We asked her to tell us a bit more about them, and herself. Of the drawings, she says they’re mostly unpublished so far, but she’s thinking about self-publishing them as a collections when she has a few more.

She combines drawing and data gathered from multiple online databases and sources to explore intersecting issues, such as gender, class, health, identity, and femininity. The juxtaposition of data allows the reader to make their own interpretations about the often conflicting messages about and status of women in contemporary society. The “What Women….” Series is a work-in-progress that embraces current events as well as ongoing struggles and issues of contemporary women across the globe. Sheri Klein has a BFA and MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She is an artist, researcher, and art educator and President Elect for the Women’s Caucus of the National Art Education Association. She lives near the Twin Cities.

Women and Depression

Ladydrawers: A Slightly Less Confusing Summary

You may have noticed the Ladydrawers work here and elsewhere is a spidery and disorienting collection of stuff from several different groups of people. Research done by students, strips by established comics artists, anthologies by lesser known creators, and of course all of the above in partnership with Anne Elizabeth Moore. One question we get asked frequently is WHAT THE HELL IS LADYDRAWERS? Which we’re going to attempt to summarize semi-accurately here.

Ladydrawers was a class offered at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago taught by Anne Elizabeth Moore who is in fact awesome. It presented original research on gender and media that had been collected since the early 2000s. The classes we have the most information on were the Spring 2011, the one at the off school campus facility Ox-Bow in Summer 2011, and the Spring 2012 class. There was one previous Ladydrawers class to these two offered in 2010 where they looked at content and creators in anthologies. The comic based on this information is available for free download here.

http://pressingconcern.wordpress.com/2007/04/

But the classes we are going to write the most about are the aforementioned two in 2011 and the one in Spring 2012.

The first one offered in Spring 2011 focused on gathering data. We looked at 12 of comics top publishers and ran statistics on them covering their newest 30 titles as of April 2011. Things like how many books by women they were publishing, prices, and certain stats related to content. Like how many instances of violence, assault, and rape, or nudity both male and female, and how many female characters with NAMES and speaking parts there were in each comics. Needless to say our results were depressing. We decided to take these stats and make them in to postcards and send them out to all the major companies we reviewed as well as industry professionals and fellow comics artists.

Here’s a Comics Beat article on us and the comments are truly a spectacular feat of ignorance and hate to behold. Read at your own risk/amusement.

http://www.comicsbeat.com/2011/06/14/mystery-postcards-highlighting-comics-gender-issues-hit-mailboxes/

Then Anne took our stats and used them to make a series of comics with comic artists. Here are all of them in chronological order on TruthOut.org

http://www.truth-out.org/lady-drawers/1308413043
http://www.truth-out.org/comics-world-women-are-invisible-except-when-theyre-naked/1309876116
http://www.truth-out.org/no-great-women-comics-artists/1311001778
http://www.truth-out.org/why-have-there-been-no-great-woman-comics-artists-part-2/1312292657
http://www.truth-out.org/why-have-there-been-no-great-women-comics-artists/1313420504
http://www.truth-out.org/comics-publishers-who-are-they/1314629970
http://www.truth-out.org/graphic-evidence-inequality/1315924156
http://www.truth-out.org/manufacturer-suggested-retail-prices-suggest-comics-companies-think-womens-work-worth-less/131712851

http://truth-out.org/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=6019:women-in-media-theyre-not-only-missing-from-comics

http://truth-out.org/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=7235:the-gender-of-media-creators-affects-what-we-see

http://truth-out.org/news/item/8419-what-we-do-a-comic-about-women-in-the-labor-force

http://truth-out.org/news/item/8968-what-we-look-like-a-comic-about-women-in-media

All of the Ladydrawers stuff is available on Truth Out on the feed here.

http://www.truth-out.org/ladydrawers/1312312269

A Ladydrawers interview done by Rachel Swanson and Abe Lampert with NPR Vocalo can be found here,

http://www.truth-out.org/vocalo-feature-ladydrawers-feminist-comic-series-radio-segment/1312314155

In the very first full day of class at Ox-bow the students made a puppet show using the comments section of the first Ladydrawers comic as a script. Watch and enjoy here.

http://vimeo.com/25970695

At Ox Bow and we spent two weeks making comics about our stats in the woods culminating in the show “No Sleep Till Comics” and the published anthology “UnLadylike.” Which can be read in its’ entirety here.

http://www.scribd.com/Ladydrawers/d/85414532-Unladylike

But that wasn’t the end of the stats work that was done with Ladydrawers. Anne asked Nicole Boyett and Rachel Swanson to look in to DC’s New 52 in October of 2011 and run Laydrawers stats (the same ones and more we ran on the 12 publishers) on them which were extensive. Some of which Anne used to then make this comic,

http://www.truth-out.org/how-draw-comics-new-52-way-more-women-fridges/1323181363

Another thing Ladydrawers was excited to be in cahoots with was the Adventure School for Ladies which just wrapped up in June 2012 culminating in our table at C.A.K.E. where we debuted the Adventure School comic called “Hand Job.” Which unlike “Unladylike” focused more on the issues of labor and the value of it depending on who was doing it in the comics world. The Adventure School website with all the information on who attended and what was made is available here.

http://adventureshoolforladies.wordpress.com/

Then there was a class held , the last class,  in Spring 2012 which documented labor statistics as well as webcomic statistics. The work done in that class will eventually be made available on the Ladydrawers tumblr which can be found here.

http://ladydrawers.tumblr.com/

Members of the 2012  class also participated in the bi-monthly Chicago performance comics series called Brain Frame. Below is a video of that performance.

http://vimeo.com/40839157

We also have an official twitter here.

https://twitter.com/#!/TheLadydrawers

All of this is a pretty accurate picture of the work that we have so far been doing. Expect to see much of the same and more impossibly exciting and varied stuff from us in the future.

Sincerely,

The Ladydrawers