Thursday, 29 August 2013

Parties and zines!

A quick bulletin of upcoming exciting events where you can find me and get hold of my zines.

On Friday, I will be playing dancing songs with half of the Bad Rep dj gang  at Pit Pride, a super fun event to celebrate the end of Armpits 4 August and to raise funds for PCOS. I will be playing records and you can also get copies of my queer body positive PCOS zine at the merch table on the night. Pit Pride Party is at The Grosvenor, Stockwell, Friday 30th August. 

On Saturday it's Scumbag, South London's finest queer party with diy djs, zine stalls, and a special performance by Faggot. I will be selling my zines here on Saturday, including the limited edition Radical Cheerleaders zine produced for Indietracks! Come down to the Flying Dutchman Saturday 31st August.

I will also be tabling at the Autumn Zine Fest on the 20th October at the Flying Cocks in Kingston. I might also perhaps definitely have 2 brand new zines with me then. Yup, not 1, but 2! For real! Possibly.

And lastly, this has absolutely nowt to do with me or my zines, but yesterday would have been Jack Kirby's 96th birthday. I saw so many awesome tributes yesterday but this was my favourite one from Henry and Glenn Forever & Ever #2

The first 3 pages of Henry & Glenn Forever and Ever are apparently a tribute to Jack Kirby. Bloody brilliant. 

Monday, 19 August 2013

Armpits 4 August

Last year I wrote a zine called Joining the Dots all about my adventures with  PCOS. My zine is queer and body positive. you can get it here.

PCOS is polycystic ovary syndrome. affects 1 in 10 people born with ovaries and is more frequent amongst trans*men. 

It's August, which means it's Armpits 4 August,'a month long charity event for women and everyone with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome which started in August 2012.' Armpits 4 August raises money for Verity, the UK charity for PCOS, by asking participants to get sponsored for growing their armpit hair. The good things about this are that it gets people talking about PCOS and helps share information, as well as promoting Verity

However I wish there were a better way for raising money and for sharing information about PCOS in general. The idea of people having hairy pits isn't just a novelty option for raising money. Hair growth is just one of the many symptoms of PCOS. And it's full on body hairgrowth all over the damned place, not just under your pits. Here are some of the other fun symptoms you can have with PCOS:
  • Incredibly painful periods
  • Periods that last weeks/months
  • No periods at all
  • Irregular periods to the point of what the fuck is going on down there?
  • Acne
  • Depression
  • Changes in weight
  • Hairloss
  • Increased body hair everywhere
  • Fertility problems 

Obviously it's super hard to have a single way of raising money/awareness regarding PCOS as there are so many symptoms and health related aspects that can be completely different for each person diagnosed with it.

About 7 years ago I was finally diagnosed with PCOS. It took a long time. I saw doctor after doctor after doctor and none of them joined the dots from all my existing various symptoms. It's a hard thing to get diagnosed, it's a hard thing to treat, and it's previously been a hard thing for me to talk about.

Here are the two most likely things a doctor will say to you if you are diagnosed with PCOS:

  • Are you trying to get pregnant? You're not? Then it's totally nothing to worry about!

  • Lose weight, fatty.

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I've seen 16 doctors in 3 different practices in the last 7 years. Getting diagnosed was a ballache. Getting the right treatments has been incredibly difficult and has been a fun game of trial and error with my body. And getting doctors to stop being so preoccupied with my weight and whether I want a baby or not has been damned near impossible. 

I'm currently on medication to treat just some symptoms of my PCOS while other symptoms are going completely untreated. Unfortunately a lot of the time you end up having to sacrifice one symptom to treat another, and hardly ever all at the same time. I recently met a specialist who has never met me in my entire life, had none of my medical notes, knew nothing about my previous symptoms, nothing about my general health or lifestyle, but who threatened to withold my medication unless I lost 2 stone or sought out surgery to lose weight. It was this kind of thing that made me fed up and pissed off and angry and it's the reason I wrote my zine. 

Me and my bad rep crew are djing at the Pit Pride Party Armpits 4 August benefit which you should all come to. 

And if you are looking for a zine that is queer and trans* positive, doesn't place focus on fertility, and is completely body positive then my PCOS zine, Joining the Dots is on sale throughout August. Copies will also be available at the zine stall at Pit Pride Party.

Friday, 9 August 2013

Comic rage

Comics aren't for us

So I love comics. Like, freaking LOVE them. My life was changed for good when I picked up an Uncanny X-Men anthology by Chris Claremont as a teenager and I've not stopped since. I'm in my local comic shop every Wednesday for new comics day, I obsess over characters and stories, I go to conventions, and I share my obsessions with other comic geeks. My comics obsession is nothing new, I've written about women in comics regarding the fake geek girl a whole ago, and I'm also the newly appointed news contributor for comics and graphic novels for the website For Book's Sake

So to recap: I'm a girl and I love comics. 

This article makes me understand why women and girls might never ever ever pick up a comic. It makes me understand more about who is welcome in comic culture and who isn't. It makes me disappointed in comic creators that are representing comic culture as a whole. It makes me furious. 

In the article, Alyssa Rosenberg recaps the recent Television Critics Association press tour in which 4 white dudes from the comic world promoted the documentary Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle  a film about the history of superheroes in American comics. The press tour featured Michael Kantor (film maker), Todd McFarlane (a creator of Image comics, one of my favourite publishers), Len Wein (Swamp Thing, X-Men)  and Gerry Conway (The Punisher)During the press tour, these 4 white dudes respond to criticisms of diversity in comics, they dismiss female audiences, and they detatch comic characters, narratives, and images from having any real kind of impact in culture whatsover. 

First of all it's important to note that these 4 guys don't speak for comic culture as a whole. I massively disagree with them, as do many others. And it's true that there are way more prominent voices saying awesome things about comics and diversity. But unfortunately what these guys are saying matters, because it reflects on comics culture as a whole, and for comic creators to dismiss the need for diversity in comics is damaging. I mean I love their comics, I love their output, I spend money on those comics and I spent time over characters and stories created by some of these men. To be told that diversity doesn't matter and that I might not even be considered their intended audience makes me sad. So let's break it down into the 4 most ridiculous points. 

1. This is how things have always been. Plus men are just as sexualised so quit whining. 

Representation in comics is a big one and it's a conversation we will be having for years to come. The representation of all characters in comics, specifically superhero comics, is heightened and hyper real and involves a certain amount of beefcake and cheesecake. But the ways in which female superheroes are often reduced to hyper-sexualised forms differs massively to the beefcake we see in male characters. Cheesecake is fine, but accepting and discussing that there is a massive imbalance for female representation is vital. So when McFarlane says 'they are all beautiful. So we actually stereotype and do it to both sexes. We just happen to show a little more skin when we get to the ladies' is just massively missing the point and is incredibly ignorant. At least acknowledge some of the imbalance, let's at least talk about this! I mean hell, this is why the Hawkeye Initiative was set up to visually demonstrate exactly how sexualised women in comics are as opposed to male characters.

2. If you don't like it start something yourselves

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McFarlane stated that "there's nothing stopping the people that want to do those things from doing it" in response to the idea that there is a total saturation of images in comics and maybe more diversity is needed. Conway even added that 'I don't think that there's a barrier necessarily in the field". What McFarlane and Conway are saying is if you don't like it then start something yourselves. AS THOUGH THIS IS A VIABLE OPTION. The amount of women writers and artists that self publish or work independently is huge, there are female creatives out there, it's not as if they don't exist. But suggesting that it's easy as pie to set up a comics publishing house, not only that, but a publishing house capable of sharing the field with Marvel and DC is bonkers and downright impossible. Conway's comment about lack of barriers in the workforce is also incredibly offensive, suggesting that there is no sexism within the comics industry and that it's fairly easy for female comic creators to get jobs, just not necessarily at the Big Two. 

 3. Comics aren't for girls anyway and including diversity in comics creates allows for bad storytelling. Also Faith Erin Hicks is a girl.

Remember how upset comic fans were when an all-female X-team was announced? It's political corectness gone mad!

Apparently including diverse representations within a prominent cultural form would be pandering to our needs and would be bad storytelling. Len Wein thinks the best way to portray diverse characters is to ignore race, and present all characters as the same regardless of race. McFarlane insisted that any comic that does pander to requests for diversity then inherently becomes a 'minority comic book' which he thinks doesn't work. 

However, please welcome to the stage Gerry Conway for some of the most bizarre and out of touch commentary during this discussion. Conway discusses the reading habits of his daughter saying that:
"my daughter - the only actual comic books she will read is by a girl named Faith Erin Hicks, who writes stories that speak to her. So she's not interested in the guy stories."

Gerry Conway doesn't see anything wrong with the fact that his daughter does not feel comfortable reading other super hero comics, he doesn't feel frustrated that other writers and publishers don't write comics that are accessible to all. Instead he thinks it's great that his daughter will only read comics written by a female author as the other stuff isn't for her.

Faith Erin Hicks later responded on twitter:

McFarlane also said he would not encourage his two daughters to read comics as it "might not be the right platform... it wouldn't be superheroes because I know that's heavily testosterone-driven, and it's a certain kind of group of people." I really feel sorry for their kids. So many young girls love and read comics and you'd think that having comic creators as dads would mean they would be introduced to awesome comics from such an early age. But nope. Cuz comics aren't for girls.

4. The comics follow society, they don't lead society

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This is a quote from Gerry Conway, who has decided that art, words, and culture have no impact on a society. That we don't form our ideas from the culture we intake. And that if you want to blame a lack of diversity on anything, blame it on society because it's not the job of the comic world to change things. I'm not even going to comment on this, I'm just gonna leave that there and call bullshit.

It's hard not to get bogged down in this stuff. I love the world of comics and I want to encourage others to read comics and to visit local comic shops which can be intimidating (and historically gendered) spaces to be. And while there are so many people that identify as women that are indeed comic fans, I can completely understand why ladies, women, and girls would never want to set foot in a comic shop or pick up a comic for the first time after reading such crap. It was only this week that the amazing Matt Fraction (Hawkeye, Satellite Sam, FF) in his AMA on Reddit stated "I think better women characters and more female creators would lead to more female readers; and yes, comics still have a major and profound problem with the way they treat women on the page, behind the scenes and in the marketplace."  

Women and girls will continue to read comics cuz there are so many fantastic writers, artists, editors, colourists out there. I dodge the titles that offend me, I dodge the art that doesn't sit right with me, and I avoid writers who aren't diverse and inclusive and tell bad stories restricted to the same old view point. And on that note I'm off to have my weekly comics catch up.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Awesome August!

August is my favourite month of the year, it's party time!

Reasons why August is AWESOME

1. It's the month of birthdays! I hang out with way too many Leos cuz a bunch of my friends all have birthdays this month which means cake and sleepovers and hangtimes and super fun party times. Also it's my birthday! And to celebrate I'm having a super fun birthday tea party with bffs with hot dogs and karaoke and cake.

2. I'm going to Alton Towers! Despite the fact that my last google search was 'deaths at Alton Towers', I'm super hyper and out of my mind with excitement for my trip to Alton Towers next weekend. It's a birthday treat from Froogs and I'm gonna ride all the rollercoasters until I puke. ALL OF THEM! PUKE! SO MUCH PUKE!

3. I'm going to see Derren Brown! I'm a little bit in love with Derren Brown and magic. Good magic, not shit magic. In fact the awesome Jailhouse Judo did a special episode of their radio show recently all about magic and I recommend you give it a listen right now. I'm giddy at the thought of seeing Derren Brown live again. There's a lot of little moments in his live shows that never really make it to the TV specials and it's always a brilliant night.

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4. I'm going to Reading festival! Despite the fact that I decided I was too old for this shit and would never go back to a festival unless Dananananaykroyd or MCR reformed and played, I decided that I wanted another Reading adventure this year. The Friday lineup alone is making my head spin. Deftones and SOAD! ARGH!

5. I'm gonna have a zine stall at the next SCUMBAG, organised by Len and Melissa. There will be zine stalls and film screening, djs, and dancing queers all night long. You should come!

6. Me and my Bad Rep team will be djing at the Armpits4August event at the end of August. We are excited to be djing again and we will play lots of dirty scuzzy Bad Rep songs. I've also got some thoughts about Armpits4August and PCOS which I'll talk about later... And in shameless zine plug, if you wanna find out more about PCOS you can read my zine

7.I'm going to see the B52s! I've never seen them before EVER and I'm gonna dance this mess around finally!

8. Harry and the Potters are going on their first UK tour since 2007! ARGH! Unfortunately the London show I'd organised for them at the Canada Water library fell through, but fear not, they are playing LeakyCon in London and are also going on a UK tour with the bloody wonderful Martha!

9. Dance lessons begin again at the end of August and I can challenge myself doing things that are way out of my comfort zone again and get back into weekly dance sessions. They are good for my brain, good for my feet, and good for pep!

10. I have set a deadline for myself to complete my current zine which is all about dancing. I swear on the holiness that is Bruce Springsteen's face, that this will be finished at the end of August. I'm just waiting for one final contribution from someone and then it's pritt stick and photocopier time. This is my 3rd zine of the year and in all honestly it's the most prolific I've been since I was a teen zine writer.

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