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Laydeez Do Comics

23rd Nov 2012

Laydeez Do Comics

Since 2009, Laydeez has provided monthly meetings and a space in which female graphic novelists and comics enthusiasts can gather to discuss and present their latest work.

Each session allows members to introduce themselves to fellow artists and readers, and to promote new publications and upcoming comic events, such as the Queer Zine Fest London at Space Station Sixty-Five. This month, Ellen Lindner gave a rallying call for London members to read and contribute to a new transatlantic periodical, The Strumpet.

On Monday 12 November, Laydeez hosted Alison Bechdel, one of the pioneers of the mainstream graphic novel. Bechdel  began comicing in various gay American newspapers with a fortnightly strip of Dykes to Watch Out For, which gained her a devoted cult following and growing readership.

If DTWOF aimed to portray an array of lesbian lives and politics, Bechdel’s later work takes a turn to the introspective. Fun Home tells the story of Alison’s late, closeted father, via James Joyce’s Ulysses, and Are You My Mother? refocuses on Alison’s relationship with her mother, by way of Virginia Woolf and D.W. Winnicot.

In the Gallery at Foyles, Bechdel read from Are You My Mother? – her most recent graphic novel – with an accompanying slide-show presentation, before revealing the laborious artistic and digital process that goes into each of her panels.

A particularly enthralling aspect of her presentation were the photos of Bechdel dressed up as her mother, as Winnicot, and again as herself, posing for sketches that would eventually be inked, scanned, coloured and aligned with the text.

A Q&A with Bechdel was followed by book signings and a screening of The Paper Mirror, a short film by Charissa King-O’Brien which narrates an artistic collaboration between Bechdel and queer/crip artist Riva Lehrer.

Lehrer sees her own career path mirror that of Bechdel when she decides to veer away from overtly concentrating on her ‘community’ and requests the graphic novelist to sit for a portrait which will depict Bechdel painting her shadow, overlaid with a blue doodle of her mother.

The final Laydeez meeting of 2012 will take place on December 10th, and meetings after the New Year will be held at Gosh! London.

Recommended reads for comic novices and potential enthusiasts include Love & Rockets by Jaime Hernandez and Billy, Me & You: A Memoir of Grief and Recovery by Laydeez Do Comics Director Nicola Streeten. Any readers interested in exploring female fanship in greater detail could also try Chicks Dig Comics.

Eve Lacey