SWEDISH.

Friends.

We have just completed the Swedish version of our International Comics Survey—AVAILABLE HERE, NOW, FOR YOUR FILLING-OUT PLEASURE—and we couldn’t be more excited. We’re so excited, in fact, we’re re-opening our surveys in EnglishFinnishGermanLatvian, and Spanish—and leaving them open until we can collect 100 responses in Swedish. Then we’ll recompile the data, reconfigure our findings, and rework the comics we’ve already got in process.

That’s right, there are many many more besides what we’ve already published on censorship at PEN America. We can’t wait to show them to you, once we have just a bit more info on what’s going on with comics in Sweden.

 

On Censorship

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Ladies and Gentlemen and Others,

The Ladydrawers are pleased to announce that, several months ago, we were offered the opportunity to publish the first of our International Comics Survey findings at PEN America. Here’s an excerpt from Anne Elizabeth Moore’s essay introducing the three strips:

That there are few recognizable visual cues associated with censorship is one reason the topic receives such short shrift in our brand-focused, social media-infused culture. Another is that the topic is nearly impossible to address with objectivity, a concept particularly beloved by those who impose limits on speech and speakers: if a censoring body refuses to ‘balance out’ a censored creator’s tale, even allegations of censorship can quickly be silenced. This situation can be reversed, too: creators often feel silenced when editors suggest changes to work, even when the changes were intended to improve it. Silencing seems a wholly subjective experience.

Read the entirety of “Silenced Without Proof” (September 2016) at PEN America’s site, published in recognition of Banned Books Week. The essay introduced three comics compiling original data on censorship, silencing, and disability among international comics creators, including Censored, with Elke Renate Steiner and Fran Syass; But That’s Not Censorship!!, with Hanna-Pirita Lehkonen, Sheika Lugtu and Fran Syass; and The Amazing Adventures of the Censor-Ship, with Sheika Lugtu and Fran Syass.

 

Figge installation II

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Last week we were invited to the Figge Art Museum in Davenport, Iowa (see details here) to install an oral history window mural entitled Let’s Chat About Civil Rights / Let’s Chat About Civic Memory. Here are a few process shots, with Sheika Lugtu, Melissa Mendes, Chris Reno, and Tessa Pozzi working on the mural. (Anne Elizabeth Moore was behind the camera.)

 

Figge installation

We’re off to the Figge Art Museum in Davenport, Iowa at the behest of St. Ambrose University this week to install an original window mural. (In-progress draft below by Melissa Mendes.) The images, by Mendes and Sheika Lugtu, will be accompanied by oral histories from local Quad Cities residents regarding two major aspects of Davenport’s participation in the struggle for civil rights, and public commemoration of that past: the fight for equal marriage and black history.

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The interviews, conducted by Chris Reno and Tessa Pozzi of SAU’s Catich Gallery and edited by Anne Elizabeth Moore, focused on how folks defined and experienced civil rights, and what visible reminders of past struggles they had located in their community. Questions were inspired by articles on the queerest cities in America; this amazing wedding; and the city’s destruction of sites of black history, as well as this powerpoint presentation on civil rights in Iowa and this video (from SAU!) on a planned civil rights walking tour.

Our interviewees were very generous with their time and our questions, and gave some beautiful insight into the Davenport area, and the absolute importance of keeping a constantly updated notion of civil rights at the center of public conversation. You’ll see more in the mural when we finish it April 7—a part of SAU’s Fair Play conference, hope you can come—but some of the quotes we’re most inspired by are below.

PASTOR RICH HENDRICKS

“I didn’t come out until I was 40. I grew up here—the community has become more diverse. I left here when I went to college. I don’t remember any African-American kids in my elementary school. …

“I grew up a product of a poor education. We had no sex ed when I was growing up. I didn’t realize that gay was an option. … My only recollection of a comment when I was younger was, I can remember my folks or their friends saying something about ‘those people down by the levy.’ The way they said it, you could tell it was dirty. I didn’t know what they were talking about, but I could tell it was unacceptable. That was, you know, the cruising area.”

VICKI PHIPPS

“I have the best job in the whole world. In my own work, I address power relationships. In one of the projects I’m working on, I’m working with a biracial student on this notion of microaggressions. In general, why does a person of difference have to educate everyone else? Can art and design help further that?”

“I’m the last member of my family that could move back to the reservation. But people don’t meet me and go ‘Oh, Native American!’ Whereas they do see [my student] and go, ‘You’re black.’ So we both have a long list of things that follow us that you can’t leave behind. …”

KAYLA BUSHEY

“I feel like civil rights really mean equality. Equality for every type of person. … I feel like that really gets smudged along the way. It’s weird to say that I am this, or I am that, but according to standardized tests, I am half Caucasian, half African-American. My dad’s side is the white side and my mom’s side is the black side. It’s strange because here in school, either you’re a part of the Black Student Union, or you are the populous of the white student body. I feel like I try to tread that line—honestly, trying to get that privilege on both sides. Or wherever I can. I’ll go over to my dad’s side of the family. He’s a general in the military and he wants rights for people, but only if people have earned their rights. It’s hard to be like, well you were born with rights. Then I go to my mom’s side of the family, and she’s like, we need women’s rights, we need LGBTQ rights. I even have friends who haven’t experienced that push and pull from both sides. … I think when people pick and choose what kind of rights people should and shouldn’t get, they’re not really enforcing civil rights.”

ANONYMOUS

“Right or wrong, the assumption has been that gay, lesbian, transgender, and/or bisexual people are outside of the realm of—this is gonna sound bad—us good black folks. So then those of us who fit any of those [categories] are on the fringes. I remember studying sociology and talking about marginal people. So if you were white and gay and male in the 1960s, then you were kinda marginalized. But you still had your whiteness and your maleness, but if you’re black and lesbian, then you got nothin’.”

 

Comics Undressed request!

Friends,

As we round the final corners of this long, long, documentary-making process on this International Women’s Day, we have a request. We’d like to you to be involved directly in the film—possibly even in it. We have some questions and we’d love to hear what you have to say. Your feedback will be used to bolster the film’s message and narrative as we summarize our findings and thoughts.

Feel free to respond in writing or in video —  we may use your words to accompany our animation or we may include your video directly in the film. You can leave comments below, or reach us at ladydrawersdocumentary@gmail.com — we’ll be integrating feedback through the month.

Here are the questions:

  • What do you think the top 5 biggest or most interesting changes have been in the cultural sphere of comics, geek culture, and nerddom in the past few years, especially in regards to representation on the page, on the screen, and behind the scenes?
  • What has been the most significant change and how has it affected you?
  • What gives you hope, and what makes you ambivalent, hesitant, or nervous?

We can’t wait to hear your thoughts, and even more, we can’t wait to share the final product with you.

The Ladydrawers & Femicomix Finland Superhero Team-up

Alecia intros us

Alecia introduces us at Women & Children First.%22as you can see, Finnish words are long%22Aino introduces Femicomix Finland with the phrase, “As you can see, Finnish words are very long.”
amazing audience

Our amazing audience.

anna reading w:aino Anna-Leena reads from her new book!

back of shelf

The fruits of Rae’s labor convincing people to make collaborative comics at our event (now available to browse in the front window, go read them, they’re adorbz.)
DO_grass ox winning poster

The Finns sweep the draw-off, bolstered by their strong showing by the prompt, Draw Grass Ox’s New Presidential Campaign Poster.
DO_grassox eating the constitutition

Rae drew Grass Ox eating the Constitution.

DO_grassox helps Sheika helps Grass Ox drect Rae’s drawing process.
Morgan offers the winning team US citizenship

The victors of the Draw Off were granted American citizenship. Ray 1Rae’s totally ridiculous performance had them flashing people to convince them to make comics together. 
ray 3 Rae choosing their next victim.Ray shows off zines

The tiny library created by our amazing audience.
Rays minizines Another closeup, without the artist themselves.sheika and our books Sheika did a bang-up job as the Mistress of Ceremonies.Sheika and Ray collaborate Sheika and Ray, attacking the page with cats, butts, and hot dogs. AKA “ladydrawering the eff out of it.”the Finns collaborate Hanna-Pirita, Taina, and Roju draw their ideal man, LOL.the littlest comicker Our favorite audience member draws some comics.