Sally here with Tatiana Gill; graphic medicine; the new superwomen and their fresh talk; Karen Green’s life in comics.
Adam Griffiths attended “FRESH TALK: Who are the new superwomen of the universe?” at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in D.C., on June 14th, 2017. He sent these notes for me to share with you:
FRESH TALK: Who are the new superwomen of the universe?
Carolyn Cocca : Author of “Superwomen: Gender, Power and Representation.”
Ariell Johnson : Owner of Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse, Inc.
Gabby Rivera : Writer for Marvel’s AMERICA series.
Ashley A. Woods : Artist for the Stranger Comics series, “NIOBE: She is Life.”
Moderated by Emily Whitten.
Tonight’s panel at NMWA was crowded with curious onlookers, geeks, comics fanatics and well-wishers for the comics medium, which has barely had a presence in the thirty-year old museum’s programs or collection. I have to admit I was a little nervous for the panelists; the selection of speakers intimated that the program would serve as a sort of general survey of this contemporaneous moment, where the concept of women and comics are discussed in a women-positive environment, on women’s terms. The fact of the matter is that this discussion has been going on for the past two decades. Like pulp fiction, comics has emerged from the margins of popular literature as a force that even Hollywood has had trouble quantifying. We’re learning that comic-book movies are made with all hands on deck. One misstep in storytelling or context can unleash a digital herd of comics aficionados. They are protective of their stories, passionate about cinematic interpretations of their heroes, and uncannily heeded by the industries that create this type of entertainment, probably because these fans are primarily men.
When comics shop owner Ariell Johnson is discussing her first forays into comics, she mentions a male friend with a great collection of comics. She was always borrowing his, but when an image of Storm from the X-men pops up during her slide presentation, she lights up: “This woman was the one who started it all for me,” she says. There seems to be a little guilt there – the collection that she had access to ended at some point and perhaps could have ended her relationship with comics. Instead, she started her own shop.
When Gabby Rivera begins discussing her writing, she’s still overwhelmed by the influx of community support she got for her early work, and how that motivated her to continue. Artist Ashley Woods remembers getting to comic conventions with no money, sometimes even arriving without her own book in hand to sell. There’s a thread here that’s tough to follow if you choose to really feel it; Gabby Rivera wants you to know that her mom is awesome. When Rivera’s mother calls she asks: “Gabby have you eaten something?” “eatsome’neat.” It’s something about how women hold fast to their communities, sometimes needfully breaking themselves in order to advance.
Speaker Carolyn Cocca suggested that the cult of domesticity in the United States is responsible for sluggish progress for women in the comics industry. Within that history, we do know that there were women creators in comics. We also know that there were tons of women colorists, women letterers, women running printing presses. The standout artists and writers however are the ones that there are few of, seemingly.
The mise-en-scène here is that women comics creators are piggybacking on each other towards an enhanced presence in the comics field. Last night, the room was very warm with this prevailing outlook.
Tonight the reception for the 2017 Comics & Medicine Conference: Access Points will be held at the Fantagraphics Bookstore – featuring a book signing by Tatiana Gill. She will be presenting her new collection, Wombgenda; “fierce feminist comix” to all reports. Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery is located at 1201 S. Vale Street and the event will be from 6-9 PM.
The Seattle Review of Books writes about Tatiana Gill’s new comic:
“The three long pieces in Wombgenda address Gill’s journey to developing a positive body image, her abortion story, and an account of getting a new IUD at Country Doctor. Her style in these strips is very reminiscent of Seattle cartoonist Roberta Gregory’s autobiographical comics from the 1990s — simple figures, little to no backgrounds, and a lot of words packed into every panel. They feel something like handwritten letters from a friend — confessional, intimate, exuberant, and heartfelt.“
This is the eight annual Comics & Medicine Conference, the bulk of which will be held at the Seattle Public Library Central Branch (June 15th-17th). This year the event features keynote speakers Hillary Chute, Georgia Webber, and Rupert Kinnard. Learn more about the event HERE.
Seattle Weekly profiled the event, and spoke to co-founder MK Czerwiec about the importance of comics in health care.
” “Comics have the power to convey important information in ways that people who are dealing with issues in health care and caregiving find appealing to absorb,” Czerwiec explains. Comics have been used in public health situations for decades to make information accessible in ways that can “transcend language barriers,” but they also provide patients with a “form of reflection and … storytelling” that can help in the healing process. They also help others empathize with patients. For those reasons, she says, nursing and medical schools are beginning to use comics to teach students.
Czerwiec says that Seattle has existed on this intersection between comics and medicine for a very long time. Cartoonist Mita Mahato, who has helped to organize this year’s Comics & Medicine conference, has long been a booster. Ellen Forney’s memoir about life as an artist with bipolar disorder, Marbles, has fast become a classic in mental health circles. And “of course, Meredith Li-Vollmer at the King County Public Health Department has come to our conferences in the past and presented projects that she’s done with David Lasky in the public health arena.” Li-Vollmer and Lasky worked on the comic No Ordinary Flu, which saw a print run of over half a million copies translated into a dozen languages and distributed around the country.“
Karen Green‘s life as a comic, by Nick Sousanis – or, “How a Butler librarian became Columbia’s first curator for comics and cartoons“. Check out the whole thing HERE.
Nick Sousanis wrote about the experience of making the comic:
“While only six pages long, this proved to be a huge undertaking – i was working on it December through March, and it was just published this week. When first approached to do this project, I was hesitant. Although I’m good friends with Karen and she was a great colleague while I was doing my doctoral work, biographies are not really the sort of comic I make. But then I got the idea to tell her story through homages to all the comics she read growing up and through adulthood – and that got me excited for the challenge (I did do one autobiographical piece a long time back that touched upon somewhat similar terrain). And it was a challenge – the amount of reference material for this short piece are kind of ridiculous but once you’ve committed to this path – can’t really stop walking. The comic draws on her lifelong fascination with Alice in Wonderland in a few places, the New Yorker, the Bayeux Tapestry, Archie, Little Nemo, Charles Burns, and the crowning achievement of the piece – a riff on Al Jaffee’s legendary Mad Fold-Ins! (See a recent interview with Jaffee here.) Although this final page was the quickest to draw in the end, it was by far the hardest to figure out.“
Read more of his thoughts HERE – and see the “fold-in” page in action!
Blinkers – 6-16-2017 – by Jack Brougham
Suzy and Cecil – 6-16-2017 – by Sally Ingraham (based on a sketch by Gloria Rivera)