The Ladydrawers Comics Collective (AKA “The Ladydrawers”) is an unofficially affiliated group that researches, performs, and publishes comics and texts about how economics, race, sexuality, and gender impact the comics industry, other media, and our culture at large. Our data comes from original research conducted in the public realm by students, interns, volunteers, and supporters around the globe. Our content—including comic books, online strips, posters, postcards, games, apparel—is created by a range of folks interested in, and with a range of experiences in, the comics industry, including long-time, established professionals and recent enthusiasts. Our projects have been commissioned by the publications Tin House, Annalemma, and Bitch, and appears regularly in our monthly column on Truthout. Our work has been exhibited in Chicago, and DC. We have also conducted projects in conjunction with Our Bodies Ourselves, Finnish feminist comics collective FEMSKT, and other social-justice minded, information-disseminating organizations.
Education forms a central part of our work. Many of our collaborations begin as classes at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Ox-Bow School of Art, the A+D Gallery at Columbia College, or in participatory workshops at alternative spaces around the world. In 2012 we implemented a two-week experimental graduate program at the Adventure School for Ladies called the Comics Intensive. We have also given presentations for Northwestern University’s Sex Week, at the Chicago Alternative Comics Expo (CAKE), at the Chicago Cultural Center (for the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Chicago Artists’ Resource), at the Cambodian Association of Illinois, at Art Center in Pasadena, at Paññāsāstra University of Cambodia, at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, at Newcastle University, at the Helsinki Comics Festival, at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, and at the Pop Culture and World Politics Conference at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, New York.
Here’s what the press has to say about our innovative work:
- “Beautifully illustrated intellectual ammunition.” —ThinkProgress
- “Much-needed fuel to the fire calling for nothing short of a revolution in comics and the way we use them.” —Ad Astra Comix
- “Depressing news, but the comic makes it a little easier to swallow.” —Bitch
- “A collaborative comic artist team who address gender inequity in the comic industry using satire and combining research/statistics and drawing.” — The Encyclopedia of Humor Studies
- “Making an art form out of researching and publishing findings that others might write or talk about.” —Women’s E-News
- “Fantastic comics journalism.” —Forbidden Planet
- “The group fires criticism, couched as cartoons, at the media, public figures, and even the comics industry itself.” —Chicago Magazine
- “Great for novices and die-hards alike.” —Flavorwire
- “Wry.”—New York Times Magazine
Other stories about The Ladydrawers have appeared in media outlets including: Jezebel, Express Milwaukee, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Chicago Reader, The Matthew Filipowicz Show, Viikolehti, New City, Chicago Publishes, an unknown Dutch website, Helsingin Sanomat, Examiner, Comics Beat, and on WBEZ’s Vocalo.
We are a curiosity-driven, open-ended, exploratory body of friendly amateur researchers, concerned with who gets to say what in our culture and how they may or may not be supported in or compensated for saying it. From 2011 to 2014, we did a monthly comic strip on Truthout (on hiatus until 2015), and in 2014 we ran a six-series strip on Bitch Media, each of which drew between several thousand to nearly a hundred thousand readers per strip. Our strips both documents and illustrates our findings for the public at large; they also pay underrpresented artists to make comics in a field where it can be difficult to make money as a woman or trans creator. In April of 2010, we published our data on women’s comics anthologies in a pamphlet called Women’s Comics Anthology; conducted an internationally debated postcard campaign in May of 2011; released a limited-edition print anthology now available online in July of 2011 called Unladylike; and put out a book in conjunction with the Adventure School in June of 2012 called Hand Job: A Labor of Love. Our most recent book VOLKSMODE 2014, a part of the Our Fashion Year series (13 strips from which ran from August 2013 to September 2014 on Truthout), was conducted as a residency in Vienna, Austria, and will feature never-before-seen strips and be available in a limited, two-color riso print edition.
In October of 2014 we were awarded our first grant from the Propeller Fund. Our second grant will probably be a Macarthur. We are just waiting to hear back on the application we sent in last week.
Also: We like, and want to work with, everybody.