Laydeez do Comics - and they're proud of it

Laydeez do Comics - founders of the Dundee chapter (left-right) Grace Wright, Rachel Davis, and Hailey Austin.

Left-right: Grace Wright, Rachel Davis, and Hailey Austin

An international organisation championing female comics creators will host its first event in Dundee, the spiritual home of the British comics industry, later this month.

The newest chapter of Laydeez Do Comics (LDC) has been formed by Hailey Austin, Rachel Davis and Grace Wright, postgraduate students at the University of Dundee. The first of four events planned for 2019 will take place at Dundee Comics Creative Space on Friday 31 May and will be based on University lecturer Dr Golnar Nabizadeh's new book Representation and Memory in Graphic Novels.

Laydeez Do Comics supports female-identifying comics creators, fans and scholars through festivals, events, awards and other initiatives. Though it is a women-led forum, all LDC events are open to everyone regardless of gender.

The Dundee chapter was instigated after the organisation’s co-founder Nicola Streeten, a successful comics creator and academic, attended an event at the University last year and encouraged students to create a branch.

“We are really excited to be hosting these events and bringing people together locally to celebrate the contribution that women have made to the comics industry,” said Hailey, a PhD student at the University.

“We are finding out more and more about the role that women have played in the evolution of comics right from the outset but also how they have tended to be airbrushed from the history. Ally Sloper was one of the world’s first comic strips in the mid-1800s and was illustrated by Émilie de Tessier, the wife of its author Charles H. Ross, and the more people are looking at it the more we are finding out about the role she played in its creation.

“It’s still something we deal with today. Comics are seen as something for boys but the majority of students studying comics here are women. That doesn’t fit with a certain narrative though so it’s sometimes forgotten.”

Graduates of Dundee’s comics programmes include Batgirl and Wonder Woman artist Claire Roe, Anna Morozova, who was recently singled out as one of the comics industry’s rising stars, and Megan Sinclair, who, inspired by the memory of her beloved father, created a comic to help people deal with grief.

According to Rachel, visibility is key to turning around the public perception that comics are somehow not for girls.

She said, “Women have always been involved in the creative side and are increasingly getting involved in research, archives and the business side as well. They edit and co-create but people don’t know about this so that is why it’s so important to have a women-led organisation celebrating this contribution.

“Women love comics and make up a big percentage of readership but we are probably less likely to go into comic book stores because it can be an uncomfortable experience. The guys assume you’re in buying for your boyfriend or that you’re looking for a boyfriend! That’s why women will buy online instead and stores end up losing out on a lot of business.”

The inaugural Dundee LDC event takes place at Dundee Comics Creative Space, Vision Building, on Friday 31 May. More information about the group can be found by visiting https://www.facebook.com/laydeezdocomicsdundee or emailing DundeeLDC@gmail.com