Tuesday, 31 December 2013

My year in lists

It's really super easy to kick yourself at this time of year and feel bad about missed opportunities, or measuring yourself against weird standards. I'm a bit of a Pollyanna and each year I make a list of awesome. It's all the things I've done, all the little things I've achieved, all the things I've been lucky to experience, all the best moments that remind me to pull my head outta my ass and not fall into the trap of judging my life at the end of a calendar year. 

I wrote 5 zines!

Me and Bruce (and my Dad) is the zine I'm most proud of this year

I tabled at zine fairs - DIY Cultures, Alternative Press fair, Autumn Zine Fest, and Queer Zine Fest. QZFL was the best. OBVS.

I went to Paris and bought a lot of tat! (aka the day the Eiffel tower went beserk)

I started writing about comics for For Books' Sake

This year I learned that when my dance teacher told me aged 13 that I didn't have a 'dancer's body' that she was bullshitting me. I dance and I have a body, therefore I have a dancer's body! 

I completed a tap dancing course, 2 hip hop courses, grade 1 and grade 2 ballet. I've performed at the Oxford Jam Conference, at various open classes, and most recently I performed in 5 routines at the Irreverent Dance showcase, and I am now super happy to report that I am Community Liaison for the Irreverent Dance board. 

I went on rollercoasters. Lots of em. 

I slept in train stations, I camped out overnight, and I stood in the rain and I got myself into a fucktonne of debt that I cannot pay back to follow Springsteen around on tour. I regret nothing. 

I played bedroom pop songs at No Dicks Allowed

I met total fucking heroes

And other people met heroes on my behalf

I finally got a dog! Kinda. 

I survived a flood!

I survived losing my favourite band

I fulfilled a lifelong dream and FINALLY saw Helen Love play live!

I fell in love with my best friend and I've been on the best dates imaginable - Namco, hot dog dates, ghost bus, dog shows, Bruce Springsteen singalongs, Metallica at the Imax. 

I played a lot of D+D

I was so fucking proud of my friends' achievements

I dj'd at things

I got to see way more of my northern friends

And my london friends continue to be the best family I could ask for

2013 has been brilliant. In 2014 I want more fun, more zines, more gaming, more tattoos, more comics, more dancing, more bravery, more adventures, more hot dogs, and a dog for real. 

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Comics 2013

Newsflash: I heart comics.

This year has been pretty ace for my comics obsession. Not only did I start reading a bunch of amazing new titles, but I also got to spread the love by writing about comics for websites such as For Books' Sake and The Rainbow Hub. I love talking and writing about comics and being balls to the wall evangelical about 'em.

And on the other hand, my neverending poverty means that buying new comics each week is near damned impossible as comics is an expensive hobbie. So in 2013 the extraordinary happened: I got into digital comics in the biggest way and saved myself a FUCKTONNE in the process.

Yeah yeah so I finally caught up with modern day technology, big deal, lets get back to business. Lets discuss my top 10 comics of this year. These are the best things I've read all year...

Written by Kurtis J. Wiebe
Art by Jon Roc Upchurch

The first issue came out in the summer and only 3 issues in it's already proven itself as hands down my favourite comic of the year. Rat Queens is a fun fantasy adventure, kinda like D+D. The ultra violent+super sweary + drunx badass Rat Queens gang go on epic quests, battle with goblins, kill a bunch of things, and generally have fights and squabbles and ridiculous plans. And that is EXACTLY what it's like when me and my friends play d&d on a Saturday afternoon. This comic is genuinely fun and snappy and brilliant to read. There's no gritty twists or played out emo drama to wade through, it's just fun quests and witty trash talking dialogue. I would like to recommend the shit outta this title to everyone. If you like fantasy, RPGS, D+D, WoW, and nuff tuff warrior women with Whedonesque witty dialogue then read this now.

Written by Brian Wood
Art by Ming Doyle

Mara was a 6 part mini series that ended this year and is set in a not too distant dystopian future where athletes are the new culture of celebrities. These athletes, groomed from an early age, are used to placate the nation and distract the population from shady military goings on. It's a slow building drama as our main protaganist, Mara, is one of these all star celebrities. The comic follows her as she discovers her own superhuman abilities, transitioning from celebrity to outcast in a matter of days. The comic is dark and quite sparse, with often little dialogue to spoon feed you exposition.but is completely compelling and gripping. I am absolutely in love with Ming Doyle's artwork and can't wait to see more from her in 2014, and pairing the art with colours by Jordie Bellaire is just a thing of beauty. 

Written by Gail Simone
Art by Freddie E. Williams II
Gail Simone's new title for DC is one of the best things released by DC this year. The Movement, inspired heavily by the Occupy Movement, follows a group of young people tired with the corrupt police force, the haves and the have-nots, and the poverty in their rotting working class neighbourhoods. Armed with new superpowers that they each don't quite fully understand yet, they form a resistance movement, kidnapping corrupt police officers, dishing out revenge, and attempting to stand up for themselves and their communities. Each member of the group has their own motivations, their own dark backstories, and gradually over time, we see them develop and grow within the story. Sometimes they fuck up, but the voices and the stories really strike a chord outside of the superhero world. 

Written by Robert Aquirre-Sacasa
Art by Francesco Francavilla

With only 2 issues so far it's kind of bold for me to stick this in my top 10 comics for the entire year. But that's how good this title is! I've got a proper soft spot for Archie comics. I remember reading Betty and Veronica with ease before I tenatively dipped my toe into 'proper' comics and began a life long comic obsession. Afterlife with Archie is a new twist on these beloved characters providing genuine moments of horror and darkness that you just wouldn't get in any other Archie title. It all begins when Sabrina the teenage witch casts some dark and evil spell to resurrect Jughead's dog after a nasty car accident. When the dog comes back as a rabid zombie and bites Jughead all hell breaks loose and riverdale is faced with a zombie apolcalypse. It sounds goofy but it's not, I mean it's fun as hell, but it works, it really works. The writing, the dialogue it's all just spot on, and the artwork and the colours are grim and creepy and gross and perfect. 

Written by Matt Fraction
Art by Zdarsky

I tend to read most things by Matt Fraction and I would reccomend the crap out of his FF run or Hawkeye. His new title Satellite Sam came out around the same time as Sex Criminals but it was this title that properly won me over. The first issue introduces us to Suzie, and through flashbacks and narration we see her life and her relationship to sex, from dodgy sex education in her youth, to learning to masterbate, to then having sex  as she got older. It's a brilliant depiction of adolescence and sexuality but with a twist. You see when Suzie has an orgasm, she can stop time. Kinda like Bernard's Watch but with sex.  Sounds weird right? In the next issue we find out that Suzie isn't the only person with this gift and she meets someone else with the same strange power, and together they find out just what they are capable of. I can't quite describe this comic and make it sound amazing, it just needs to be read to be understood and loved. The awkward, weird, frustrating, and fun depictions of sex are awesome and brilliant and I love the way Suzie is written. I also love spotting weird sub plots in the imagery and the porn in the background of some of the panels, the artwork is just amazing.  

Written by Jeff Parker
Art by Jonathan Case

I love all the Bat titles, and this year I've loved the hell out of Batman Inc by Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham, and I'm loving Scott Snyder's Batman: Zero Year right now. But for pure fun and energy, Batman '66 has been my favourite of the Bat books this year. Based on the Adam West campy tv show from the 60s, this book is filled with super fun adventures, brilliant one liners, and proper villains with wit and intrigue. This book is a pure winner simply because it's so fun to read. You don't need to get bogged down in DC crossover events, or with backstory, or with retcons, or with any of that stuff, you just have to love the silliness and campness of the original tv show and you are given some brilliant one shot stories. Obviously the art work is key to making this work. The colours and look and feel of every panel is the polar opposite to the bleak gothic Batman we know in comics which succeeds in making this book a non-canon throwback to the tv show. Colleen Coover's recent art work featuring my favourite Batgirl was my favourite so far. SO GOOD!

Written by Kelly Sue DeConnick
Art by Emma Rios

I've been in love with Kelly Sue DeConnick's Marvel for some time now, and was super excited to see her working on a creator owned project at long last. Reunited with artist Emma Rios, this was gonna be a good 'un. Pretty Deadly doesn't disappoint. The artwork inks and colours are just simply stunning. Rios' imagery is so detailed and fantastical and goddamned beautiful. The writing is intriguing and doesn't give you everything you need in one panel, it holds back on a lot of information, making this supernatural western story mysterious and compelling. The legend of Deathface Ginny is at the core of the story, which DeConnick and Rios choose to unravel at their own pace. And Jordie Bellaire's colours are just beautiful in making this strange little world come to life. 

Written by Greg Rucka
Art by Michael Lark

In Lazarus, Rucka introduces us to a feudal dystopia, where clans or 'families' own land, food, and people. Forever Lazarus belongs to the Carlyle family, she is their protector, but she is also their family, and she is also not human. In the very first issue we see Forever killed then brought back to life. Forever is genetically modified and programmed to protect her family and obey orders at all costs, but as she is brought back to life we see her start to question the order of things and struggle with the morality of her actions while hiding this from the family. As the family embarks on a feud with a neighbouring family, Forever Lazarus is put to the test and the family begin to break apart. It's a brilliant concept with lots of mystery, deceit, and betrayal. 

Written by Eric Stephenson
Art by Nate Bellegarde

Nowhere Men began last year and has remained one of the best titles around right now. Goddamn, where do I even start? I think I need to start with saying how superbly Nowhere Men is at world building. In Nowhere Men we see the creation of World Corp, we see the men of science behind it, we see it take over people's imaginations, we see science explode in popularity, as science becomes the new rock n roll. Nowhere Men achieves this with as much intertextual bits of information as possible, from fake adverts within it's pages, to fictional interviews and magazine articles written from inside this world. These bits and pieces are scattered across the series, building up a very heightened yet very real feeling brand of World Corp. Slowly we are introduced to a new World Corp science project. Motivated by ambition, celebrity, money, and fame, the experiment goes ahead, and as the comics progress we see just what horrors and dangers are exposed all in the name of progress. I'm trying to write this without giving any spoilers and it's hard. So please just read it!

Written by Kieron Gillen
Art by Jamie McKelvie

This might seem a little obvious but Young Avengers had to be on my end of year list. As Jamie McKelvie and Kieron Gillen come to the end of their run on this series I'm holding onto these characters as the last year has been amazing. I often recommend this title to people that are new to superhero comics and don't know where to start. With the popularity of Loki in the films (and on tumblr) introducing people to Kid Loki via YA feels like a no brainer. Plus the big advantage of reading YA is that there is no massive backstory to wade through. Plus it's  teenage superheroes, they are angsty and have a lot of feelings and who doesn't like that? The Young Avengers sees a group of super powered teens with a whole mess of relationship problems, mystery, and secrets. As the group battle against a dark evil entity calling itself 'Mother' that prevents them from returning home to earth, they go on the run trying to find solutions without falling apart as a group. Each kid has their own problems and their own set of rad skills and powers, the full extent of some are still unknown. Battles, magic, demons, and fights aside, there's enough relationship drama to keep this book going with Kate Bishop (Hawkeye) and Noh-Varr's new and shaky relationship, to Billy and Teddy's relationship about to breakdown any second now (queers in comic books alert!). Bust basically all I'm interested in is America Chavez, easily my favourite nuff tuff utterly badass and mysterious member of the group. Jamie McKelvie does amazing things with this book, the art work, particularly the panel structures are super impressive and dynamic. Some of the content can feel a little bit too meta at times but I'll forgive it because it's overall the most fun book to read. 

Also the following comics deserve notable mentions for being good reads and consistently awesome: Batman: Zero Year, Saga, Hawkeye, Batman, Captain Marvel, Batgirl, Batwoman, The Wake, FF, East of West, Killjoys. 

Monday, 9 December 2013

Festive fun time dance party

I love christmas music so hard. I started listening to this stuff in Novemeber and I haven't stopped. I completely appreciate that you may hate this and find it annoying. I know christmas music isn't for everyone, especially if you work in retail and have to listen to this shit all day long. 

Last year we made a Bad Rep christmas playlist for our last ever Bad Rep (holy crap, that ended a year ago??) and you can listen to some of my favourite Christmas songs on our Bad Rep spotify list by clicking on these special snowflakes:
 photo snowflake_zps1ed2787a.gif

Or you can rock out to these awesome songs below:

The Home Alones- Fuller, Easy on the Pepsi
This is your annual reminder that The Home Alones, a Home Alone concept band exist and they are AWESOME. 

Harry and the Potters - Christmas at Hogwarts
Everyone's favourite Wizard Rock band have their very own christmas album, joyful enough to kickstart anyone's patronus

TLC - Christmas Sleigh Ride
All I want for christmas is some dungarees

My Chemical Romance - All I want for Christmas
My favourite band covering my favourite christmas song! And as a cheeky extra bonus I'll also give Every Snowflake is Different a spin for some winter pop fun. 

Destiny's Child - 8 Days of Christmas
Doesn't it feel like Christmas?

Andrew WK - Silent Night
King of party music sings a christmas classic. He's like Santa but with added party.

Weezer - We Wish You A Merry Christamas
From the very awesome Christmas with Weezer. 

Bruce Springsteen - Santa Claus is Coming to Town

Pansy Division - Homo Christmas
Don't be miserable like Morrisey, let me do you under the christmas tree

Darlene Love - Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)
A Christmas Gift For You is the greatest christmas album of all time, don't even try and argue with me. I will never get sick of this. 

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

New zine + QZFL + Burnout

New zine!
I'm currently swigging Benylin like it's pop and cursing my yukky infected tonsils. I'm ill and exhausted and have BURNOUT from doing too many things and over stretching myself. BUT the main thing is I made a brand new mini zine for QZFL!

Because the night belongs to Batman is #3 in my Me and Bruce series of zines. I've collected some images from some of my favourite (and silliest) Batman stories and set them to the lyrics of Bruce Springsteen. The two Bruces go surprisingly well. I mean Gotham City is set in New Jersey, and they are both white millionaire superheroes. The similarities between them are endless. 

It's a silly zine but I wanted to put something out in time for QZFL. It's my 5th zine of the year and even though Dancing in the Dark only came out a few weeks ago, there's some horrible guilty feeling that I have if I table at zine fair without a brand new zine. Plus it was a way for me to combine my two massive loves - Springsteen and Batman. My biggest regret is that I couldn't use the famous  'I'm the goddamn Batman' panel in the zine for one of the pages because it's so iconic and stupid and would have fit really well with one of the lyrics. But the text preceding that specific quote includes language that I find too offensive so I left it out. 

You can order my zine from my zine shop here:

Queer Zine Fest London 2013
Queer Zine Fest was a blast! The amazing Charlotte Richardson Andrews organised the entire damned thing and it genuinely felt like queer christmas. QZFL stands out above all other zine fests for me. Knowing that the zines and creators and distros are mostly queer and/or trans* makes a massive difference, I don't have to go searching for queer scraps like I often do at other zine fests. 

I tabled with the amazing Kirsty Fife, creator of Hard Femme zine. Major props to Kirsty for being ridiculously brave and inspiring by giving a talk all by herself and for giving readings from some of her zine. it was ace to see just how busy her stall was after her super successful talk. 
Also my two neighbours were the bloody wonderful Melanie Maddison from Shape and Situate and Colouring Outside the Lines and Amy Wright from Slug Pie. Here's me and Amy having an in-joke.

It was super busy all day with incredible zines all day long. The best part about it - none of the ridiculously expensive artists book/art zines that you get at nearly every other zine fest. AMAZING! I'm so thankful to Charlotte for organising such an important and positive event. 

QZFL marks one of my last big activities for the year, and now that I've stopped DOING SHIT, I realise I have burnout in the worst way. 

I feel guilty all the time unless I'm doing something, making something, planning something, and working my guts out. Even if it's not working creatively, I've been killing myself at work as 60+ hour weeks are now becoming standard. Nobody has told me I have to work 60+ hour weeks, I just have the most guilt if things don't get done.

I've been making zines, working overtime, hosting out of hours library events, researching bibliographies,writing articles, attending dance classes, going to rehearsals and putting on shows, researching things for things I haven't even written yet,making things, and forgetting to breathe. 

In the last few months it feels like I haven't stopped and part of me is almost embarrassed to admit that. It's sort of embarrassing admitting that certain projects and activities have taken lots of time to work on and complete. Recently I was involved in a super incredible queer and body positive dance show that took a lot of time. I was in rehearsals most nights per week and when I wasn't in rehearsals I was busy making the zine for the show. Part of me was embarrassed to admit to people that I was spending so much time over one thing because I have a stupid voice in the back of my head that worries that when people see the final result they will go 'really, you spent ALL your time and energy and THAT'S all you have to show for it??' Or when I made my dance zine recently which took a lot of work and research and involved having to chase down contributions from dance organisations that weren't responding super quickly, and involved me re-writing the whole thing 3 different times. I was almost ashamed when my zine was finally completed and people could read it for the first time because there was that niggling doubt that people would think it was ridiculous that it took me so many months just to write a silly little zine. 

It's self doubt and it's guilt and it sucks.

In the last few months I've said yes to nearly everything. Sometimes it's because I've had to because it involves me keeping a job and being able to pay the rent, sometimes it's because I've wanted to because it's a project I really want to do, and sometimes it's because I don't like letting people down. I don't sleep more than 4 or 5 hours a night at the moment, I don't eat properly because I'm always in a rush, and it's rare that I just get to sit down and watch American Horror Story or read a comic or play Skyrim or any of the important things I class as selfcare. 

I've not replied to emails in about 2 months, I've got texts and missed calls and voicemails that I've not even opened yet,  I'm behind on sending out zines, I've not been able to write much for FBS recently, and I'm behind on seeing people and actually being a good friend to the best people in my life. And that adds more guilt.

Yesterday I granted myself a sick day. I stayed in bed, ate an entire advent calendar, watched Modern Family all day and then slept. And instead of feeling relaxed I just felt guilty that I wasn't doing anything. All I could imagine was the huge to-do list building while I lay there. 

So I'm gonna be saying no to a lot of things right now and it might take me a while to reply to your email and I'm mega sorry if I've been a crummy friend recently but I'm hibernating for a bit til pep levels are fully restored.