A Sort of Half-Assed Post About Wimmins Comix

Hello!

I don’t feel like working on comics right now, so I thought I’d do a blog post. I have been reading the Collected Wimmin’s Comix (published by Fantagraphics). I’ve had it since August, but am only now getting around to reading it (shout out to all the people out there that have stacks of books they need to read while still buying more books ALL THE TIME).

Anyway, I started reading Wimmin’s Comix and I’ve been blown away. Here are my thoughts:

  • I would say the vast majority of these comics don’t hold up, as with most underground comics from the 1960s-1980s (there are a few exceptions to this, for example Bitchy Bitch or Dykes to Watch Out For by Allison Bechdel. Allison Bechdel actually talks about how in one of her collections that her earliest work is pretty rough, but gay publications were so desperate for comics they would publish practically anything. The editors interviewed at the beginning of Complete Wimmin’s Comix say the same thing, especially for early issues). The overall quality of the comics definitely improve over time. While the early issues are rough but by the late 1980s issues there is some genuinely entertaining comics included in the issues.

  • I can’t believe how much sexist bullshit women put up with in the past. I don’t know how they handled it! While it’s true that sexism hasn’t gone away, you can see how it’s evolved and become more subtle through this collection. I have always cognitively known this, but seeing it written in the authors’ first person perspectives has made me internalize it in a way I never have before. I am really thankful for the hard fought battle that women from previous generations have fought on my behalf.

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This is the cover of the first issue. This and the above image are from a comic about women comic characters from the time rebelling against the sexist men in the comics they appear in.

This is the cover of the first issue. This and the above image are from a comic about women comic characters from the time rebelling against the sexist men in the comics they appear in.

  • The way these authors want to fall in love and find husbands while at the same time being part of a movement that calls out their oppression at men’s hands is interesting to see. Dating back in the 1960s must have been horrendous. The author’s views on sex are crude and raw in a similar way to their male underground cartoonist counterparts.

  • I will say there is a lot of racism in this collection. There is a letter mentioned in the beginning of the anthology by one of the editors that was sent to them accusing the collective of not really being women, as women would never publish such racist and sexist material. The sexist material isn’t really apparent to me (minus small things, primarily that occasionally the authors tear other women down instead of lifting us all up.)

I think people are much more sensitive to mocking people for their appearance than even five years ago. It’s one of my pet peeves anyway, as someone who is uncomfortable with her appearance and is worried for being mocked for it.

I think people are much more sensitive to mocking people for their appearance than even five years ago. It’s one of my pet peeves anyway, as someone who is uncomfortable with her appearance and is worried for being mocked for it.

However, the racism really is present. The editor interviewed in the introduction was flippant about this letter as though the accusations were ridiculous. There is a lot of fetishizing native american and east asian cultures, and many of the black people portrayed in the comics have a racist phonetic accent (you literally have a comic celebrating Harriet Tubman saying things like, “no sir, masta”). To be fair, phonetic accents are much more common back in early comics than today (primarily because they are irritating as fuck to read), so these accents may not be seen as quite as egregious.

  • The comics from the 1960s and 1970s genuinely have characters saying, “groovy,” and I found that funny.

  • There are some LGBTQ comics in these issues as early as the 1970s, when being gay was still a crime. Seeing accounts of that lesbians dealing with that level of homophobia is both heart breaking and really compelling.

That’s all I can think of at the moment! I have a number of blog posts I want to write, but I need to focus on making more comics and am about to start another temp job next week, so that probably won’t happen in the foreseeable future.

Anyway, bye until next time!

Quick Update So I Can Get Back To Work

Hi!

I haven’t really posted here in a while because I am desperate to actually WORK ON COMICS vs doing back end shit like updating my website (which takes a long time when combined with other stuff like tabling and doing social media). I’m starting to form SERIOUS imposter syndrome so I want to plug a few things really quick and then go back to actually making work. 

- I was on the Paper Cuts Podcast. This was recorded at SPX but was put out this week. Feel free to marvel at how much I sound like a dumb bro. Listen to it here or download it wherever you listen to podcasts.

- My comic My Mother’s Story (originally part of the Comics For Choice anthology) was reposted to MUTHA Magazine earlier this year and was one of their top posts. Feel free to read all of their top posts for 2018 here. 

- I did a comic about food and memory for The Nib. Read that here

Alright, back to work on the next volume of Everything’s Fine. To get that zine when it’s done, you can sign up for my Patreon

Happy Holidays!

 

 

Binging

I have been going to a nutritionist for a couple weeks to work on binging. With my apartment flooding, going to doctors non stop, hurting my back, driving 2.5 hours a day (my boyfriend lives 40 minutes away from my current temp job + going to doctors and my apartment every night to clean more of it since the flood) I’m really burnt out. So my progress with this has been slowed down. But I’ll keep working at it.

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Homework from the first chapter of my DBT work book.

Homework from the first chapter of my DBT work book.

I relate to most of what this book says, except I tend to get over my feelings pretty quickly.

I relate to most of what this book says, except I tend to get over my feelings pretty quickly.


How I Spent My Halloween

I spent my Halloween helping a friend check into a psych ward for mania (due to her bipolar disorder). I sent her a rough draft of the comic below. She loved it, but asked that I draw her glasses accurately: she wears her brown round pair when she’s manic and her blue square pair when she’s depressed. She’s a great artist and is open about her mental health. You can find her work here.

The following happened:

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I was at the hospital for 5 hours and they didn’t have internet so I was bored shitless. So I drew the following doodles around midnight:

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Nurses at the hospital were wearing scrubs- GET IT???

Nurses at the hospital were wearing scrubs- GET IT???

My go to doodle is either 1) a heart or…

My go to doodle is either 1) a heart or…

2)The word “fuck”.

2)The word “fuck”.

Sometimes I do a combo.

Sometimes I do a combo.

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While this comic will not be in my next volume of Everything’s Fine, there will be a bunch of other awesome comics in it, including this one about the balance of my and my boyfriend’s relationship:

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I’m not just a chaos bomb with a bunch of stoic loved ones. I support them too through their own mental health struggles.

If you want a copy of Everything’s Fine: Let’s See Where This Goes, you can get it when it comes out by supporting my Patreon.

Getting Consent When Creating Autobio Comics

I went to a writing conference with a friend of mine. He was trying to get his comics into the publication that was hosting the event (I would recommend checking them out, their short fiction pieces are very good, but their comics and poetry are iffy). There were artist talks and panels discussing writing fiction, memoir, and poetry.

The only panel I remember going to was one about how to write memoirs. I vaguely remember that all the books were on really serious topics like grief and drug abuse. The only thing I distinctly remember was the Q & A. Everyone was asking about their process, or how to get over feeling exposed when writing about themselves. I had finished my mini thesis for the Center For Cartoon Studies a few months prior (the last assignment of the first year of the program: take all the things you learned from the first year and make a 16 page zine) about being bullied and then turning into a bully myself. It had a lot of people from my past in it, but no one I particularly cared about in the present. But I had a question because I had a feeling I’d be making more autobio comics in the future-

“How do other people react when reading your work that mentions them? How do you take that into account when writing?”

The panelists answer was essentially:

1) You never know how people are going to react. There’s things you think that are going to offend people mentioned in your work but turn out to be no big deal and things that seem totally innocuous turn out to be big problems.

 2) You need to make sacrifices and at the end of the day your art is more important than these people.

The first point was something that I didn’t internalize and would come back to bite me in the ass. And the second point was, and still is, in my opinion, absolute bullshit. Sure, if I piss off someone I don’t like and I show them being shitty, who cares? But I wasn’t willing to lose friends or cause grief with family over my dumb comics. I had other stories I could tell (I’m lucky because I can pretty much tell anyone anything about my mother, she’s an over sharer too and is very supportive of my work).

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But man, I wish I had taken the first point more seriously. I did a comic about a crazy (and traumatic) night I had with my friend’s dog while pet sitting and put it on Twitter. My friend totally freaked out. I took it down immediately and apologized, but it was too late. Our friendship wouldn’t recover. When I tell other people this anecdote they all say my friend is crazy and over reacting, but he had his reasons that totally make sense and I just wasn’t thinking.

Losing that friendship was devastating, but it taught me a crucial and powerful lesson- I fucking ask for permission before putting someone into my goddamned comic. I don’t even mean just for heavy shit, I mean for everything. Literally every gag post I put on social media is run by the people that are in it, unless their lines are “HA HA HA” or they are merely there to set up a punch line and are saying something like, “What do you mean?” or “What’s going on?” or “Hey, how are you?” (see the above comic as an example of me not asking anyone pictured for explicit consent, though maybe I should have). Almost everything else is run by people that show up in my comics. They get veto power to stop me from showing a comic they’re in to the world. Especially since I often change my conversations with people to better fit the narrative of my work.

I am VERY glad I do this because I have fucked up and done comics that expose things people don’t want the public to know or I’ve accidentally made them look like an asshole. But it’s not a big deal because they just say, “No, don’t post this” or “Fix this part” and it’s just between us. Asking for permission is a really easy thing to do that stops a lot of future drama.

My art isn’t worth upsetting the people that I love. This isn’t true for everyone: if I don’t like or care about you, I don’t give a shit about making you look bad. That’s not very kind of me but it’s true. I’m not really a kind person anyway, I just prioritize the people in my life I care about. You could argue that this is actually me being selfish, because I’m the one that cares about maintaining healthy relationships.

I have always been at odds with hipster artists as a whole (especially in my fine art days). Sure, the fact that many of them are pretentious and clique-y and obsessed with status (which I am too more than I want to admit)  etc. irritates me. But the underlying reason is that I fundamentally disagree that art is more important than people, and that is something a lot of artists buy into (or their art is more important than themselves; the suffering artist trope is BEYOND damaging and just plain stupid). If I had to give up making comics in order to keep the people I care about in my life, I would in a second. I’m lucky enough though that pretty much everyone in my life that I care about supports my comics. And because I keep their feelings in mind when writing stuff, I will probably never have to make a choice between the two.

I Have Started A Patreon

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Hello!

So I am nervous as hell to announce this but I have started a Patreon. Patreon is a website where people can pay artists to make new art and support their work. I am using this as a subscription service for people to get my zines which will help pay for the cost of printing them up front. Every time I make a zine, depending on what tier you sign up for, you get a digital and/or physical copy of my work. This is a nerve wracking step for me. It’s one thing for people to like my stuff on social media, it’s another thing to ask people to support me financially. But I’m broke, so I need help funding future projects so I can keep making comics, which is literally my favorite thing to do.

Please consider supporting it if you can. Thank you! 

Leaning Into My Jewishness (I thought I'd Never See the Day)

I have  complicated feelings about being Jewish. I was raised Jewish, though my father was a WASP. I went to whatever the Jewish equivalent of Sunday school is and HATED IT. It was, in my opinion, a waste of time. I still believe that for the most part. I then went to an all Jewish middle school. Like everyone else, I hated middle school. Unlike everyone else, because of my very Jewish surroundings I started turning the hatred I had for my life and into a hatred for all things Jewish.

I have never believed in God (even though I wish I did, I think having faith would be comforting), so I describe myself as a cultural Jew. I’m not religious, but American Jewish culture is a fundamental part of who I am. There are things that make me feel connected to my people (I’m pushy, Jewish foods, the fact cartooning has a lot of Jewish roots) and then there are things that make feel like a total stranger in my community (the way we try to use the Holocaust as an excuse for the horrendous shit we do in Israel to Palestinians, or the outrage that Captain America being turned into a Hydra Agent is a form of anti-Semitism which is such a dumb fucking argument to have but that’s a rant for another day).

So I read the following comic and had really mixed feelings.

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Comic by Lily Hoyda from their  Tumblr  for the  Cartoon Punk Zine.

Comic by Lily Hoyda from their Tumblr for the Cartoon Punk Zine.



I remember getting into a conversation with a buddy of mine (who is also Jewish) about how pre Trump, Jews feeling oppressed as a minority in this country seemed ridiculous. The only anti-Semitism I had only really experienced were from “progressives” that conflated me along with all other Jews with Israel’s anti-Palestinian policies, but I have fundamentally the same belief system as progressives so I could shut down that shit REALLY quick (“Hey dude, I am a Jew who disagrees with a lot Israel’s policies, just like an I’m an American that is critical of our government policies. What’s that? YOU’RE ALSO AN AMERICAN THAT DISAGREES WITH A BUNCH OF THINGS OUR GOVERNMENT DOES AND WOULD LIKE TO NOT BE JUDGED AS A PERSON BASED ON THOSE ACTIONS??? WOAH, WHAT AN IDEA! DO YOU SEE ANYT PARRALEL IN OUR SITUATIONS???”). But overall, me and my friend both agreed, pre the 2016 Presidential race, being a Jew that was claiming to be oppressed in this country seemed stupid.

Now I read that comic and agree with it’s message. But part of me is still like, “Oh my God what whiny social justice warrior shit is this?” (side note, I am a progressive but am not or will ever be a social justice warrior and I will explain that to you if you ask in person because my negative feelings about them are guaranteed to be misconstrued if I put them on the internet).

When I notice myself feeling this way, I have to ask myself, “How bad do things need to get before you start taking this shit a little more seriously?”

I have really started leaning into my Jewish identity lately. My boyfriend is from the Midwest, and knew almost nothing about Judaism before meeting me, so it’s been really fun teaching him about my culture. If I can acknowledge the good things about being Jewish, I need to start acknowledging the struggles that we as a people are up against too.