Sunday, 4 April 2010

"Chicks on Comics" Interview (Part 2 of 2)

 #52 byPowerPaola

They're back, and more female than ever! Today's concluding part of our chicks on comics interview [first part here] contains the Chicks on Comics team's influences, the balance between the necessity of a female-only platform in comics and the importance of viewing an artist's work outside of gender, as well as the future of their project.

#33 by Clara Lagos

Recently, Hope Larson (via Twitter) said that she didn’t like to participate in “Women in Comics” panels at conventions, because she felt that the focus was more on her gender than on her work. What do you think about this statement?

Lilli Loge: That’s a good point. I would love to live in a world where gender doesn’t matter, too. But I’m often treated as a “woman”, whether I like it or not. “Woman”, to lots of people, still doesn't mean much more than being pretty and nice. So, I think it is still necessary to show that women can have more talents than those.

Caro Chinaski: Love it. Cheers. I don't feel the same way, because I'm simply not so worried about the angle I think people see my work from. I want people to approach my work in the way they can, they want, they choose. If it is because I'm a woman, well, fine.

Maartje: I think this is true and self-perpetuating. But should I refuse to participate in something like Chicks on Comics just because it consists of female artists only? The main problem in relation to this is the title of the blog, which stresses the fact that we are all women and implies that this is somehow significant, which I don't believe it is.

Delius: Yes, sure, she is right. I think you must appreciate a person's work before their gender; I think we have the same opportunities as men in the comic world, however, I think men and women approach certain matters of life in different ways according to their gender (luckily), and in this sexist world women's points of view are looked down upon, arousing curiosity at the very best.

 #26 by Delius

Anna BB: Firstly, she might be right in some cases and wrong in others. Each convention, panel or whatnot should be weighed by its own criteria. Although I am not a fan of female-labeling either, I still think it’s useful to recognize the lack of female artists; I don’t believe it can be due to a lack of talent or interest. Girls have very few female role models growing up, and even when there are important female figures in history, we're not taught about them at school, and so we can only find them if we're purposely looking for them. Also, I think men tend to give jobs and opportunities to buddies, whereas women tend to go for it alone, by themselves. Which is one of the reasons why I like Chicks on Comics.

When Barbara Stok won the Stripschapprijs in The Netherlands [a Dutch prize awarded to comic writers and cartoonists - in 2009], there was a lot of excitement about her being the first woman to win it. But one might just as well be totally ashamed that she was the first woman to do so in sixty years. So I think these things should be discussed, but in a different way; with higher expectations, and recognizing it as a society-wide problem, not something that has to do with comics.

Clara Lagos: I think is a good statement, but I also think that women are different from men. It's a fact... we can´t deny it. I think that those panels will be interesting when they'll put focus on the "feminine look" (it could be a mixed panel) and not "look at these weird comic girls!".

Ulla Loge: I still see a necessity for "women only" fanzines or blogs, because equality between women and men hasn't been reached yet. These are safe places for women, where they can develop and grow without the obligation of competition, like in a greenhouse. I think that many women have a lack of confidence. Maybe women's platforms can help to correct it. On the other hand, it's like a foreign aid that makes unfairness visible. It hurts to see that it is still necessary.

I think women's platforms can try to minimize inequality within the production process. The perception of the art and the artist is another issue and I think that Hope Larson references this problem. I agree with her in the matter that my aim is not to be noticed as a woman, but as an artist, who has no gender, only a message, a story or instruments that help to tell them.

PowerPaola: I understand her position perfectly but, for me, in the country where I live, I have to start from the beginning. We need to join together to scream loud.

  #29 by PowerPaola

Inside and outside the comics world, who/ what are your influences?

Lilli Loge: My sister and I grew up in the German Democratic Republic [former East Germany], where nearly no comic culture existed, except for one really great publication: Mosaik. Later, I discovered that the best drawers of Mosaik were women. I was surprised to find this out because I used to think, like many people, that women were not able to draw so well.

When I was 20 years old, I got to know this generation of American comic-artists, who revealed in interviews that their influences were MAD Magazine and Robert Crumb. So they influenced me, and their idols influenced me too - and also the idols of their idols, like, for example, the Tijuana Bibles' artists, and especially Mr. Prolific. By the way, Mr. Prolific is an interesting case, because I think it was actually a woman hiding behind this male pseudonym. And if this is true, then one of the earliest comic books ever was pornography drawn by a woman!…

Now, I don’t want to start talking about what influences me outside the comics world, because there is really too much!

Caro Chinaski: Music, my loved ones, lots of writers. I'm more infuenced by things that are not related to the comic world.

Maartje: I got into comics while I was in the States, so what I read is heavily influenced by Drawn &  Quarterly, Fantagraphics, Buenaventura Press and other 'alternative' American publishers. I enjoy reading and listening to interviews with other comic artists. Fantagraphics' anthology Mome usually has an interview with one of its contributors, which is always worth reading, and the Comica Festival that is held at the ICA in London every year has had some great talks.

More than by other comic artists my work is influenced by the everyday. Seeing friends, riding my bike or reading the paper, talking to colleagues at work, reading, listening to music and podcasts or watching a film.

To me, it is important to see a little of the artist's hand in a drawing ,and so I mostly prefer art that is not penciled and then inked. There are lots of comic artists whose draftsmanship I admire and I would love for my drawings to be influenced by, but drawing does not come easily for me. I choose and research the images I use, but, to me, the artwork itself often feels more like the outcome of a series of accidents than anything else.

#71 by Ulla Loge

Delius: I'm influenced and inspired by the work of George Grosz, El Bosco, Ayax Barnes, Alberto Breccia, José Muñoz, Isidro Ferrer, Max Cachimba, Julie Doucet, Edward Gorey, Audrey Beardsley, Arthur Rackham, El Lizzitsky, Van Gogh, Paul Klee, Oskar Schlemmer, the Silly Symphonies of Disney, Bauhaus's students and professors, a lot of Argentine children's book illustrators from the 40s to the 70s, almost all BLAB!'s artists and a lot of friends, colleagues and students with their researchs and universes. The other artists from Chicks on Comics inspire me all the time.

Anna BB: Inside the comic world, I guess, mostly technically: Phoebe Gloeckner, Joe Sacko, Robert Crumb, Alison Bechdel, fartparty, and  in Germany Ulli Lust, Mawil, Reinhard Kleist, in Holland Peter Pontiac... These are kind of the big namey ones… but what I love about the comics world are the hundreds of artists I meet in Germany, Colombia, Argentina and on the Internet, who influence me everyday with their enthusiasm and talent. There are too many to mention.

Outside the comic world: also too many. Any field, any place. There are a number of famous people and works that have been important and have set an example with the things they have done. But what has moved me most in my work is the energy, the involvement and the long discussions with colleagues. 

Clara Lagos: Silvina Ocampo (Argentine writer), Charles Schulz, Peter Bagge. 

Ulla Loge: I don't know it excactly...  Inside the comics world, I'm perhaps influenced by the Hernandez Brothers, especially the form of storytelling which Gilbert uses. I think that Scott Mc Cloud was also important for me. He helped me understand the functionality of comics. The Asian comicstyle gave me a new sight on the art of comics, the use of time, and the expression of feelings. I like a lot the expressive art of the  "old masters".  Like in Japanese woodcuts, Greek vase paintings or Mayan bas-reliefs. They are sometimes quite humorous. I'm also fairly influenced by movies and I try to use cinematic methods for my work.

#8 by Caro Chinaski

PowerPaola: In comics: Chris Ware, Mark Beyer, Julie Doucet and many other girls. In my own life, the small absurd moments I live. Music. I always need to listen to music: Devendra Banhart, Taken by Trees, La Mala Rodriguez, Stereolab, Juana Molina, etc...

Finally, what do you see in the future for the project?

Caro Chinaski: More and more fun.

Maartje: Maybe a publication of some kind, and hopefully to meet everyone in the flesh one day. For now, I would just like for us to keep on going and to see where things go.

Delius: Oh, we'll do our first exhibition at LDF Gallery next October, in parallel to the Third International Comic Festival Viñetas Sueltas in Buenos Aires;  and I hope we'll publish our work in a color book of course.

#77 by Anna BB

Anna BB: I hope that, by way of the blog, all the chicks will soon find a husband, make many babies, swap the comics for an apron and will finally relieve this poor world of the project once and for all. No, just kidding.

In terms of the blog, we might be improving the blog, giving space for background information and so forth, but we will be continuing as long as we please, whether you like it or not! We have no other hobbies...
Some boys have been begging to join. Maybe boys should join. It's time for boys to emancipate.

Clara Lagos: I don´t know, an exhibition, more participants... Cool things!

PowerPaola: A beautiful book with all our dialogues.

#48 by Delius 

TittenBONUS! (with Lilli Loge)