Weekly Cool News Round-Up: March 17-23, 2013
Some expanded thoughts and heads-ups on news items curated throughout the week.
Some follow-up thoughts on Phoebe Gloeckner, Diary of a Teenage Girl, and ubiquitous question of “autobiography” in comics. I was having lunch with my mom today, and though she’s not much of a comics reader, she’s a fantastic and supportive mother who reads this blog because it’s a thing I do. She mentioned that she started to read the interview with Gloeckner I posted earlier in the week and commented on her vehement annoyance at being asked about the “autobiographical nature” of her work. I replied that, as far as I could tell, Gloeckner’s teen years did involve a good deal of drug and sexual abuse, and like any creator she draws on her experiences for material to write about, but she couldn’t and/or wouldn’t point to specific instances in her work as things that actually happened. Sort of offhand, I concluded, “When you think about it, that’s an intensely personal thing to ask someone.”
I had never thought of it that way before, but it is sort of ridiculous how much comics criticism harps on the “autobiographical” part of semi-autobiographical comics, as if the value in the works are in that they “happened” rather than being great works of comics. Maybe it’s because we’ve got the gold standards of Maus and Fun Home, both of which have the overarching theme of their creators trying to understand their respective fathers. So we can’t deal with the idea that, by contrast, Jimmy Corrigan is a book about estranged fathers by a cartoonist who was estranged from his father, but is not about that particular man and his father. And that attitude gets really voyeuristic and creepy when you apply it to work like Gloeckner’s.
I don’t think anyone does it maliciously or lasciviously, but interviewers should really be more mindful of what they’re actually asking someone when they ask if their work is autobiographical. In the case of Phoebe Gloeckner, she has essentially spent decades being asked “Is this how you were actually raped in real life? Were you really prostituted out for drugs by someone you trusted?” and so on. Would you ask anyone those questions in real life? If you answered yes and are not a social worker or a therapist, go sit in the corner and think about your life choices. Your horrible, horrible life choices.
Are you a Mexican comics creator? Editorial Resistencia might be interested in your work! Founded in 1999 by former magazine editor Josefina Larragoiti for writers in niche genres ignored by the Mexican mainstream publishers, they started publishing graphic novels in 2007. So far, as far as women go, they’ve published Cecilia Pego's Visiones y Evasiones. No idea what their policy on Chican@ creators is, but they appear to have a very open editorial policy, so it can’t hurt to ask!
A cool-looking Kickstarter this week, Irish comics collective Zenpop is trying to raise £5,000 to publish their rainbow-themed first anthology Chroma. The majority of creators involved are women, including Leeann Hamilton (Finn & Fish) and Anthea West (The Earthbound God), which is a nice thing to remember when you read the fabulous Maura McHugh's recent post on women being left out of an “Irish Comics Month” event.
Bonus Art Thing
No idea if the artist was a woman on this, but the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library posted this early manga image on their blog. It’s from 1921 and is about Japanese women’s liberation of the time: