‘I live sweat, but I dream light-years. I am the sun, the rise and the fall.’ - Minutemen - The Glory of Man
You might have noticed that I Live Sweat hasn’t been updated for the best part of six months. Between my day job, my Punknews responsibilities, and the physical training I undertake to help manage my depression and anxiety, there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to keep with everything. The day job and the training are necessary that I remain solvent and healthy, both mentally and physically, so it came down to choosing between Punknews and I Live Sweat, and the former won out, at least for the foreseeable future.
As proud as I am of what was achieved through this webzine, especially the sexism in punk series which was an absolute honour to instigate and curate, I felt a great deal of responsibility to my contributors and the community, and it was quite stressful at times, and not conducive to recovering from an anxiety disorder.
In my role as editor at Punknews, I’m part of a team of committed volunteers, and while there’s stress in that too, there’s also a support structure. I still get to shine a spotlight on bands I think aren’t getting enough attention, and I still get to shine that spotlight on the issues of gender politics we covered here, only now I’m doing it as a volunteer journalist, as opposed to a polemicist. The form is different, but the mechanism is essentially the same, in that I can find someone rocking the boat, and give them the signal boost they deserve. The key difference is that I’m doing it with friends, and that means everything to me.
I was in two minds about writing this piece, as I had thought it best to just let it lie, and slink away quietly, because the best of I Live Sweat was never about me, but about the people who took the time to write for us, and put themselves under considerable scrutiny in the process. Having said that, this project was absolutely instrumental in my ongoing recovery from depression and anxiety. It gave me a chance to be active and effective from the edge of my bed, when panic attacks, and the fear of such, were stopping me living my life as I’d have liked to, and it gave me the confidence and the self esteem that the depression robbed from me, and allowed me to start to rebuild myself while engaging with the two (non-mammalian) things I love most, punk rock and comics. For that reason, I want to thank each and every one of you who read, shared, agreed, argued, and especially contributed.
It’s been an absolute privilege. Thank you all.
Andy Waterfield remains a Marmite fanatic from South Leicestershire. He is part of the editorial staff at Punknews.org, and will shortly be joining the staff at Noncanonical.com as a columnist, because he has altogether too much to say about comics. He tweets at @andywritesstuff, and writing about himself in the third person makes him grin from ear to ear.
(Photo by Stephen Yang)
Hi, Mariel. For those who aren’t familiar with Candy Hearts, could you catch them up with who you are, and what each of you does?
Candy Hearts is, well, we’re a band obviously. I play guitar and sing, Kris Hayes plays better guitar, Christian Migliorese plays bass and Christina Picciano plays drums. Basically, everyone has their role in the band. I’m the songwriter and overly obsessive van driver (I drove no more than 5 above the speed limit all the way to Georgia); Christina is the “I get stuff done” kind of person and always speaks first when something seems not right or annoying; Kris is the tour dad and the kind of guy who always manages to have packed the stuff I would have left somewhere at a venue in the middle of no where; and Christian’s like that teenage little brother who gets into trouble sometimes but always has an interesting story.
Sounds like a pretty solid dynamic. Do you find that having that mix of temperaments and personalities helps keep things interesting?
I wouldn’t say it keeps things interesting, but it definitely keeps me sane. I can’t speak for the band, but I do know that whenever I have something I want to gossip or complain about, Christina always has my back and when it comes to being nervous and unable to handle whatever a situation might be, Kris is like the ultimate motivational speaker/life coach. Christian is like the perfect person to talk to about boys if only because he feeds me what I want to hear when I want to hear something I want to hear and lays down the truth when it’s really important. Basically, they’re some of the 3 people I feel like I can be not so pleasant around and they wouldn’t really take issue with it. I can be angry, mean or upset and if we argue, 20 minutes later it’s like nothing happened.
That sounds like a useful set of relationships when you’ve got to spend a lot of time in close proximity with one another. What’s your touring schedule been like this past year? Have you got much coming up?
Well, we toured in August down the east coast. We’re playing an unofficial CMJ show in a couple of a days in New York that we’re super excited about. In November we are playing some shows around the Boston area. It’s been kind of hard lately because pretty much the minute our record came out, our van broke. We’re hoping to have it settled by November so we can tour. Then we’ll likely go out in the spring or as soon as the ice and snow and winter driving hazards have calmed down.
Your current full length, Everyone’s Amazing and Nobody’s Happy, is also your first through Kind of Like Records. How did you come to be involved with them, and how has it differed from your debut album, Ripped Up Jeans and Silly Dreams?
Actually, it was kind of strange how it came about. Our old bassist, Greg, who contributed a lot to this record, left to pursue his other band These Animals (they’re like cool vintagey indie rock) full time. Christian hopped on board because his band had recently broken up. Apparently his band had been talking to Lisa, who runs Kind of Like. Since we were shopping around for labels, he began talking to her and it just felt right. Even if most of my friends encouraged us to go in a different direction, with Kind of Like I didn’t feel like I was gaining a label — someone to put out our record. I was gaining a best friend, a crucial support system and somewhat of a personal manager/psychologist. She’s just the best!
The record is a lot different than our first to me. Our first was rushed — totally slapped together. I didn’t have a clear direction when I wrote it, nor did I really feel like any of us had a grasp on the way we wanted the record to sound. I was transitioning from being in a real solo-artist type band to something that was really a joint effort and well, a band. That was loud. On this record I feel like we had more of a cohesive idea of what we wanted and we were able to mesh some of our favorite parts of punk and our favorite parts of folk and alternative in a way that made sense together.
It’s always nice when people say awesome things about Lisa. She’s been a huge help every time I’ve needed to pick her brain about something for I Live Sweat, and she does come off as a lovely person.
The way you talk about it, it sounds like you’ve made a neat body swerve of the whole “difficult second album” cliche, and produced something more cohesive than the debut. Does that sound about right?
Yes that sounds about right, though I should note that every time I’m writing an album it really feels like I’m never going to be able to finish it and is always kind of a struggle. I’m sort of in that right now. It’s not pleasant.
A lot of your lyrics are strikingly honest about emotional vulnerability, or seem to be. Is that level of honesty important to you as a songwriter, and is there a downside at all?
All of my songs are more or less true stories. Sometimes the characters are a combination of different people, which leads those I know who might be listening to get a little confused, but it’s important to me to keep a level of honesty with my audience. When I sing a song that isn’t true for me, I feel like I’m cheating people, like I’m lying to myself. The song seems unimportant and just flat — like I’ve conned my friends into believing I deeply care about something that’s meaningless. I can’t work that way. When I draw from the things that I really feel at the core of me, that’s when I develop songs that I can be really be proud of, as afraid or unafraid as I am to put them out there. I also feel like people will respond to them better. I mean, it might be self-centered to say, but if I feel a certain way, someone else must too right?
That strikes me as being the opposite of self-centred, as it appeals to the idea of a common human experience. Expressing emotion through art has always struck me as a sympathetic impulse, for the most part, but that’s just me.
Beyond music, what kinds of things are you interested in?
I guess you’re kind of right. It depends on how you look at it.
Other than music, I really love writing and watching movies. Particularly horror movies! I also like reading, looking at clothes online that I will never be able to afford and going out with my friends.
I lose about two hours a week to staring at t-shirts I can’t justify buying. First world woes, etc.
Do you have any particular ambitions you want to fulfill, as an individual, and as a band member, in the coming year?
That’s a really hard question because I have a lot of goals both personally and band-wise, obviously everyone does. I want to tour europe, I want to make more money, I want to eat better and get more fit and further my career but I think the most important thing for me is to keep doing what I want to do and not get stuck in the rut of doing things that I don’t want to be doing. Sometimes that happens to me. I also really just want to produce work I can be proud of whether it’s in my songs or my writing.
Pretty sure doing what we want to do on our own terms is the holy grail of punk, eh?
I never really thought of it that way, but I guess your right. This whole “doing what I want” thing sort of came about when I was talking to Christian about being unhappy about something and he was just like stop complaining, don’t worry about it and do what you want. Doing what you want is the key to happiness. I think he might be right about that.
I’d sling in a couple of caveats about trying to do right by other people too, but I think I know what you mean.
Of course you want to do right by other people, but there’s a certain point where you just have to work on yourself. You can try to please everyone in the world, but if you’re not happy, does it matter? Plus, you’ll probably get really frustrated because there are always going to be those people you’ll never be able to please.
Oh, bugger pleasing them. As long as I’ve done the right thing by them and myself, I don’t care whether they like it or not.
You mentioned on Twitter recently that certain external factors affect your songwriting. Could you tell us a little bit about that, what kind of effect different factors have, and how you deal with it?
Man, you’re getting personal! External factors affect my songwriting completely. When I wrote most of “Everything’s Amazing” I was in a relatively alright spot, coming off of a summer filled with friends, travel, love and music (that sounds so cheesy, whatever, but that’s all the stuff I like). Now I’m writing our next endeavor and I don’t feel the same way I used to feel. I’m not driving around in cars with my best friends blasting our favorite songs at 3 a.m., instead I’m in a huge city, going home on the subway alone and exhausted. It’s lonelier, it’s angrier and it’s different.
I think a lot of the new themes have to do with more adult things that I’m nervous for my grandmother to hear. I felt like a kid when I wrote our last album, but I don’t anymore, and you experience different things when you grow up. Basically a lot of what I write has to do with my inability to tell some people off (or even tell myself off) or just tell other people how I feel in general. At least when I sing it, I can feel better about not being able to say what I want to say.
You mentioned that you’re nervous about your grandmother hearing certain songs. Have you ever self-censored, or considered self-censoring, to avoid upsetting family or friends?
I certainly have not censored at all but I have been putting off showing these songs to people because I havent censored myself.
You certainly seem to be reflective about the process and context around the way your work is created. Do you feel that’s an important quality?
I kind of beat myself up when I’m creating just about anything. Usually that involves thinking a lot about my work or what helps me make it. It seems like it’s probably a good quality, even if it doesn’t feel that way always.
I reckon that about covers what I wanted to talk about. Anything else you’d like to add?
Hmmm. Nope! Oh, wait. If you’re in the US you should catch us on tour with Man Overboard in Feb! That’s all. Thanks, Andy.
No, thank you, Mariel. Always a pleasure.
Candy Hearts are a New York/New Jersey area alternative band. Their sophomore album ‘Everything’s Amazing & Nobody’s Happy’ is out now on Kind of Like Records.
I recently found myself engaged in a brief but civil exchange with the person running @FRONTmag, the official Twitter account of FRONT magazine. For those who don’t know what FRONT is, feel free to use the search engine of your choice, but be aware that what you find might be classed as ‘Not Safe For Work’.
Anyway, we’ve hosted guest posts discussing FRONT before (like this one, from the wonderful Nathan Stephens-Griffin), but I reckon there’s a lot more to be said on the matter, so I’m inviting anyone with a view on the topic to get in touch with ideas for guest articles. Here are some possible starting points:
I’m aware that a lot of these questions could be read as leading questions, but I really do want to present a range of perspectives on this one. I Live Sweat was always intended to spark intelligent and respectful debate and reflection within punk and hardcore (and comics), so if you’ve got an intelligent and respectful view, whichever side you come down on, if indeed you do have a firm view, I’d love to hear from you.
If you’re interested in sharing your thoughts, please get in touch via ilivesweat AT gmail DOT com.
(Note: If you’ve got an idea for a guest post that has absolutely nothing to do with this, get in touch too! Always looking for new writers.)
If you’d like to work on something for I Live Sweat, you can, and should, get in touch via email. It doesn’t matter if you’ve just got a tiny kernel of an idea, or a Dr. Doom level world domination scheme; Get in touch, and we’ll see what we can do together. Even if you just want to offer your thoughts on something we’ve posted, I’d love to hear from you.
(Andy’s note: Much of this relates to UK-specific art subsidies, but much of it doesn’t.)
(Start a Revolution by Tim Etchells. Photo by Hannah Nicklin, taken at the Edgelands event, in Edinburgh, in 2011. Details of the work can be found here.)
“Theatre Belongs to Everybody; Ideas Belong to No One.” - Chris Goode
A few months ago I cried at a gig for the first time. It was Koji/Into it Over it/Starters at the Old Angel in Nottingham. Koji was onstage and he stood and talked to the sticky, buzzing room about community; about what it meant, but also about holding it to account; about knowing when to call people out, and making a community stronger. I cried for two reasons; one, to have someone stand up with a mic and give me permission to be the kind of person who stands up meant the world to me, and two; because the amazing fucking feeling of all those people living and loving and breathing the words and music in that tiny room filled me up. Filled me up in a way that until that point I had mainly associated with theatre.
I make theatre. I have had work in London, Nottingham, York, Manchester, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Derby, and worked with many other companies besides. I make odd, pervasive performance pieces; stuff you download and walk through a specific city listening to, an audio piece for the top deck of a bus at 1am in London, pick up and play games, installations for swimming pools, or a simple stand-up piece made for a pub back-room where I stand in my protest gear and talk about having a policeman for a father.
When people ask me what kind of theatre I make, I haven’t really got an answer, but I’ve realised recently that if I identify with anything, it’s what I would call ‘DIY’ theatre. In that little sweaty room in Nottingham at the beginning of Autumn, I felt the radical resonances between those two worlds I love; punk and performance - albeit one where I am a maker, and the other an audience member – and since then I have been more and more interested in what both worlds share, and what they can learn from each other.
Daniel Yates of Exeunt Magazine sums up ‘DIY’ really usefully as “small scale, culturally distinctive, alternative producers of experience” (link). That sounds a bit academic-y, but I think at the root of the ethics of DIY is something born of a place and community, and which offers a distinct alternative to the monoculture that thrives on top-down structures, (the mainstream music industry e.g.) and ‘one size fits all’ models of entertainment.
I co-ran an event in Edinburgh this summer called ‘Edgelands’, in it a guy called Tim Crouch talked about monoculture, and the best weapon we have against it; the alternative. Any alternative. All of the alternatives (link). And DIY, in my opinion, is the best alternative there is, because it’s grown and shaped by a certain place to fit and make room for the people that want to live in it. Criticisms of scalability are bollocks in this context; one top down system and thousands of homegrown artefacts meet in the middle.
The quote at the head of this post comes from a booklet given out by theatre-maker Chris Goode (link) at an early version of his most recent show ‘Keep Breathing’. The scratch (work in progress performance) happened in a dusty old factory re-named ‘Stoke Newington International Airport’ (link) where I and many others rehearse and perform for free. Action Hero (link) are a theatre company that got bored of struggling to put their work on in theatres, so made 2 pieces for bars, and another for music venues. Their home is the ‘Milk Bar’ in Bristol, a disused building borrowed from the council where several companies work and support each other’s work. The Forest Fringe (link) has become the highlight of most of the contemporary theatre’s Edinburgh festival, and fills the community-owned not-for-profit Forest Cafe buildings with performers and volunteers, who all work for food and accommodation only. The DIY theatre community is alive, kicking, and as fucking exciting as the music one, but they hardly seem to know of each other’s existence, and that seems odd to me.
There is, though, one massive difference (barrier?) between the two communities; public subsidy. Even if none of the above artists/companies are subsidised directly, the infrastructures in which they move, are.
Here’s the thing about subsidy:
1) Most music can’t get it. (This is wrong, but true)
2) Every work of art is accountable to the establishment (albeit an arms length QUANGO subsidiary thereof).
3) If you’re used to it, and then lose it, you’re mostly fucked.
4) All artists subsidise themselves, anyway. 100% at the beginning, but every single theatre maker I know frequently works for free/expenses only.
Here are some more things about subsidy:
1) Pre-existing and non-commercially driven infrastructure allows both scaling and support for those just starting out.
2) Subsidy that allows a living to be made out of things non-commercially driven allows more people to make art, for more people.
3) It means you don’t have to rely on your audience.
4) It means money begins to seem the only way to start doing things.
A mate of mine told me that a member of the Leicester music community who attended a performance event recently said ‘theatre people never seem to do something unless they can get some money for it’, and though the suggestion made me grumpy to begin with, I’d argue that is true for mid-late career companies or theatre artists. But the thing is, there are a lot more of these in the theatre world than in music. Because the stuff that infrastructure and public subsidy offers is the ability for everyone to stick with making for longer. People over 30, women, non-affluent people, are all either more likely to have caring responsibilities/family priorities, or be lacking the tools/pathways/knowhow to access the world of theatre/music, than those under 30, male, affluent. It’s the difference between scraping by, and breaking even, which makes things possible for people to live and provide by.
Theatre also has industry bodies and members’ organisations like Equity, the ITC, a-n, that actually work for their members’ interests; set living wages and suggested contracts. The kind of support that I have yet to see from majors’ sockpuppets like the MU and their pathetic finger-in-the-hole-of-the-digital-dam obsession. The theatre world is framed art-first. There is a commercial sector that resembles the majors of music, but they occupy completely different territories. Subsidy allows the non-commercial sector to exist without eventually destroying the artists who give their lives to make it.
But music can replicate some of this infrastructure without subsidy. Bandcamp, and before it myspace, has been revolutionary in terms of replacing the distribution functions of the music industry. Why couldn’t we find some form of umbrella organisation for DIY music communities which could easily begin to rival the MU; some kind of mutual or collective/s that drive standards and expectations higher, fight for transparency from Spotify, or better margins from iTunes, whilst also sharing experience/resources? A wiki-infrastructure. For example I know Leicester has the Leicester Music Collective, but how many others are there in other cities, and do they talk? Hold councils accountable for the cultural landscapes they oversee? Could donations help pay a bit of money to allow some people to put in the time to get them to run properly? (That’s another thing subsidy offers; administrators. The jobs that people won’t walk through fire to do, but that are still pretty indispensable in providing scalable infrastructure.)
There’s a criticism of both these theatre and music DIY spaces; that they can be unscalable, insignificant*, hard to find, and incredibly cliquey. The way you solve this is you invite everyone to build their own alternative, and you legitimise alternatives in the first place. What does that mean, in practice? Think about how people find you. Think about how you share skills and spaces. Think about who’s not in the room, and why they might not feel able to be. Like it or not, the fact that those who take public money are required to show how it serves the public makes theatre ask the question (though it’s rarely answered perfectly).
*sub point, fuck ‘significance’ if it always has to mean impactful on a large scale. Give me 50 people whose lives are changed over 500 whose time is filled, any day.
In turn, theatre can learn from DIY music. Theatre is live, or lived, almost by definition. The only way for most theatre to make a living is touring. Although live shows are incredibly important to music, bandcamp, soundcloud, digital downloads in general, have revolutionised audio distribution. Theatre still operates, for the most part, on a distribution system that is hundreds of years old. Big, old, dedicated buildings, weighed down by running and staffing costs. It’s time to leave these, or use them differently (the homeless and brilliant National Theatre of Wales case in point).
Theatre can also learn from the DIY music world that if something isn’t happening where you are, make it happen wherever. Don’t think money-first if you can afford the time. Ask favours of the big fish as well as the little, and pay them back. It could also work together more, share rehearsal space, kit, know-how, contacts, much more widely, efficiently, and regionally. Put theatre in non-theatre buildings, leave behind these palaces, these cathedrals to art. Put it where people are.
They can also learn from the relationship bands have with their audiences. I never heard of anyone getting a theatre company logo tattoo, or proudly, identity define-ingly sticking up show posters in their bedroom. If merch, and sales of records that people can get for free, are the main way you make any money (touring, in the experience of internationally travelled bands I know, rarely breaks even on tickets/fees vs. travel/accomm/expenses) then you have to really drive at your relationship with your fans. Theatre fails at most social media/online/audience stuff because the price of failure is not the end of their existence.
Both of these industries could also work together to show the qualitative value they bring to a community to councils, and show councils there’s more ways to support them than money; all those empty shops, all those empty buildings.
Mostly I would love to see the end of the venue apartheid. Venues where performance, music, installations, craft, libraries, kids’ groups, dance classes, poetry, print making, film screenings, food and drink all happen under one roof. Places like the (recently incredibly fucked over) Forest in Edinburgh, or STK in London.
Because quite frankly, fuck genres. Fuck art form divisions. Let’s talk to, and learn from one another. Let’s work together to fill spaces, places and people with that same burning, beautiful, winded feeling that had me in tears in a music venue last September, and does so frequently in performances. Music and theatre should belong to nobody, everybody.
Hannah Nicklin is a DIY theatre maker and punk/rock/hardcore fan from just outside Leicester in the UK. Aside from Making Things, she is also doing a PhD in how video games are changing theatre. Fun fact: she once declared digital warfare on the government when an otherwise quite rational rant about Torrents was selectively quoted in a Proper Paper. hannahnicklin.com and @hannahnicklin on Twitter.
The magnificent Nothing Nice to Say, co-written by Mitch Clem and Joe Briggs, with art by Mitch Clem. (Larger version)
I intend to write something more substantial about what NN2S has meant to me over the years at some point, but for now I’ll leave this here. Get ye stoked on Karen, and start thy bands!
Mind Over Matter Zine: [Trigger Warning: Discussion of suicide] -
Gary Speed, football manager for Wales and former player for Leeds, Everton, Bolton and Newcastle, was found hanged in his home this morning under no suspicious circumstances. Police believe it to have been suicide:
If you are considering blogging, writing, or reporting on this, please read The Samaritans media guidelines for how to approach the subject appropriately and sensitively.
Please consider others who may be struggling with similar issues and include a trigger warning for suicide before your writing. My advice as to how to do this is here.
If you are experiencing suicidal ideation yourself, I have compiled a list of useful hotlines, contacts and information here, and there is a Mind help page on how to cope with suicidal feelings here.
Never underestimate the immense power of silence: If you are struggling with your mental health and wellbeing, speak out. There are so many people out there who can and want to help you.
Look after each other.
(Andy’s note: Because of the way the theme is formatted, this is gonna read like crap on the home page. Click here to check it out at a more sensible size. If you’d like to write about someone who inspires you, get in touch.)
Nathan is one half of One Night Stand In North Dakota, my favourite UK band. He’s interested in comics and queer theory, which makes him double-rad to the power of zombie dinosaurs. His contact details are on his Tumblr, which you can find here. He’s written for ILS before, on lad culture and gender here. I Live Sweat interviewed ONSIND last year too. Go and read!
‘Drop a dress size. Boost a cup size.’
This is the text shown on an advert (see above) for Ann Summers new range of ‘sexy control lingerie’, alongside a woman appears to be so pleased with her new shape that she is verging upon climax. Ann Summers actually has a mission statement, surprisingly. It is as follows:
‘TO HELP EVERY WOMAN FEEL MORE SEXY & HAVE MORE FUN.’
OK, so they’re on our side right? Ann Summers is run by a woman too, and every woman likes to feel sexy and to have fun once in a while. The problem is when we step back and realise that Ann Summers is defining ‘sexy and fun’ in a pretty offensive and destructive way.
Drop a dress size, boost a cup size is a perfect example of this (not that we need one after the years of objectifying advertising campaigns and window displays. I just got pissed off by it and decided to write this). We can’t be sexy and have fun unless we manipulate our bodies with various poor quality satin and lace contraptions, filled with wire and goodness knows what else to help keep our love handles at bay and our breasts jiggling around underneath our chins. Fuck it, why not start selling home liposuction kits and scalpels so we can just slice off our wobbly bits and chuck them in our uplifting balcony bras? I bet I know why the woman in the advertising campaign is pulling that face – she’s in pain. The wire in that basque is digging into her hips and she’s having to hold that position so that everything that’s been squeezed into the black lacy number doesn’t spill over the top more than is intended by the gel/air/padding in the bra. Being physically uncomfortable is not sexy and it certainly isn’t fun. Ann Summers, you’ve failed in your mission statement, and I’ve come to that conclusion by skimming over the advertising behind just one of the items you’re selling.
I personally would naively like to think that the CEO of a company would have a bit more sympathy with the women she is selling bras, knickers and sex aids to. If you really want to help women feel sexy and have fun, why tell them that, unless they are thinner and simultaneously grow bigger breasts (impossible), this just won’t happen? It’s already bad enough that your shop windows scream that we aren’t sexy without adorning ourselves with what looks like cake decorations, and medieval torture devices, now we’re being told that there’s no point in doing that at all unless we’ve got the right body shape. Sex is great, and so is encouraging women to experiment with their bodies, and their partners, and enjoy it, but the problem here is that this enjoyment is being confined to a paradigm in which women are trussed up, dressed up, disguised, and made to feel as though the body they were born with and have lived with their whole lives doesn’t measure up somehow.
Sex is an act we are all capable of, so it’s particularly infuriating when it is the heterosexual woman who is seemingly the only one thrust in the spotlight here. What about gay women and their sex? What about gay men? What about heterosexual men? Everyone’s doing it. Advertising campaigns such as Ann Summers’ not only objectify and disrespect heterosexual women, they also put on a pedestal this warped, gift wrapped, notion of the archetypal kind of sex and sexuality. Women can only pleasure themselves if it’s with a nice glittery dildo, named after a nice fluffy rabbit. That way it doesn’t threaten the great cock too much. Or does it? I think it is a bit of an insult to a man and his penis when its assumed a woman doesn’t ever want to pleasure herself with an icky replica of the real object and opts for a safe, cute, pretty barbiefied option instead. While these toys and their presentation is allowing women to be sexual, it’s still restricting it to this Ann Summers sex box where you’re only allowed to be sexy if you’re playing at it, and playing at it in the right costume. It is defining sex and women’s sexuality through the objectification of women’s bodies, through a heterosexual gaze, and setting the cutesy/vampy, non threatening, non realistic, boundaries of what is allowed to be sexy. We’re encouraged to disguise how our bodies look and how they smell, even how they feel. I can’t speak for everyone but being made to think that my body requires all of this tat adorning it and warping it does not make me feel sexy, and squashing myself into some kind of breast enhancing girdle doesn’t make having fun an option.
This rant is only scratching the surface of what needs to be examined in terms of sex, sexuality, how we perceive it, and how we are coerced into feeling about it. I’m sure not many reading this were ever under the illusion that the majority of Ann Summers products really helped us to feel sexy and fun at all in the first place. It’s not nice to be told you’re lacking in something, or that what you do have is either too much or too little. It’s even worse when you’re then exploited into working for money to buy what you’re told you need by adverts like the one that sparked off this article, only to find you’re still that one step/dress size/cup size away from sexual perfection, yet again.
If you see this window display, please tear it down, stick something over it, egg the shop, do something (but don’t get caught). No one would stand for a campaign to change skin colour to increase sex appeal (in the UK – the skin bleaching industry is huge in China and other parts of Asia, a huge issue for women and men), nowhere would put up a sign so blatantly advertising increased penis size and men’s inadequacy on the high street, so why should we put up with this? Dropping a dress size and gaining a cup size simultaneously is physically impossible, and even if it wasn’t – who the fuck is anyone to say you should do so to feel sexy and have fun?
Ces is 23, from Lincoln. She likes being a geek and reading about social policy, welfare and gender issues. She likes punk and hardcore and is angry because she’s waiting to hear back from a job and has channeled this anxiety into feminist rage, resulting in this article.
It’s heartbreaking to acknowledge that we live in a world where a 16-year-old girl would have to live in fear for being exactly who she is. —
Janet Mock, in an essay in honor Trans Day of Remembrance.
I detail my first date at age 16 with a guy I really liked. At the end of the date, I revealed, “I’m not like other girls.” I went home heartbroken, but was able to live to write about it - unlike many other girls we honor this week.
ILS: Hi, Kayla. For readers who aren’t familiar with you or your work, could you give us a quick run down of who you are, where you’re from, and what you do.
KH: For those who aren’t familiar- I’m Kayla Marie Hillier and sometimes I make comics.
I grew up in a tiny village in Ontario called Stoney Point, got a degree in Philosophy and Film Studies in the Niagara region, and then moved on to Toronto where I worked for the Beguiling, and helped with lovely fests like TCAF for quite a few years.
I’m lucky that many of my friends are talented comic folks and being around them can be quite inspiring - hanging out with Julia Scheele especially over the fall of 2009 - she kinda shoved me toward drawing again (I’d stopped and focused on writing for many-a-year). That little push resulted in me deciding to document a, shall we say, life changing 3 month trip that I made around the UK and throw it online as a webcomic, which of course became Galavant.
Currently I’ve taken a bit of a siesta from drawing, but I do have many projects under my hat. I sling coffee for a living at the moment, so when I find the time I continue to trudge through the comic muck. I mean that in a loving way.
ILS: Could you tell our readers a little bit more about your trip, the impact it had on you, and what led you to document the experience in comics form?
KH: In Canada you don’t get as much time off for holidays as you do in the UK. For about 3 years I was working for an IT Recruitment company, essentially working six months to take a one week holiday, to work another six months for yet another week long holiday, not really enjoying my work, lacking in the ‘personal fulfillment’ department. So, that’s what started the whole thing to begin with. I’d gone to London for one of those week long holidays and fell in love. London felt right. More right than Toronto felt even, so I decided to have a little courage and get rid of my well paying job in the middle of a recession, get out of a comfortably complacent relationship, and take a sincere holiday - do some real travel.
To be honest, I’m still digesting that move. As I say in Galavant, I’m still essentially working through a decision I made at the end of 2009. I don’t regret it, but it’s only now, two years later, that’s it’s started to show it’s reward. I’ve never felt that twinge of “that was it- good job Kayla” until recently. That’s why it was so important for me to document it. I could have had a good life in Toronto. I was heading down a path, but I decided to not go with the flow and instead start over. I guess I hadn’t anticipated how much I’d really have to start over, but here we are. I could have just taken photos and written a blog… or… I dunno, the usual, but something made me think that I’d want to do even more than that. That I’d never have the opportunity again to just leave everything behind in the pursuit of something else. I thought that I’d like to see things through my eyes- not through a lens.
ILS: On the topic of telling your story from your own perspective, I’d like to talk a little bit about autobiography as an idea. Now, obviously a great many works are autobiographical to one degree or anothe; Writers frequently talk about putting bits of their own experience into a story, or modelling characters on parts of themselves, but you’re writing about your own experiences, a relatively short time, in terms of conventional autobiography and memoir, after the events. What’s it like to work on an autobiographical work so soon after the story it tells, and how have you found writing about other people, many of who I’d presume you’re still in touch with?
KH: One of the most interesting things I found while creating Galavant was how my opinion of certain events would change after I drew/experienced them- the memory and the drawing seemed to generally stay true to the actual event but over time just like with any memory- how you remember things or how you feel about certain situations can shift- so that’s been interesting.
Some parts I drew several months afterwards so I do feel like those situations tend to be more reflective - for instance the outro was probably one of the first times that I sat down and really asked myself how I felt about the whole thing.
Writing about other people has been kinda tricky- I did have one request to be left out of the comic and of course I respected that. I think everyone I was hanging out with- as most of them are comic artists, understood and were okay with it. But it does influence you- worries about people not liking how you drew them or fears that you’re not remembering things correctly.
I know with Adam a lot of the time I’d ask him for feedback or ask him questions to make sure that I was remember things correctly.
I feel like I was pretty damn honest through the whole comic but there are some events that were definitely left out because they cut too close and I didn’t want to hurt/offend anyone- but in those instances I tried to at least hint that something else was going on, if not solely as a reminder for myself (A part of me kinda wants to draw the mucky bits just for myself- therapeutic maybe?).
ILS: One of the parts I really enjoyed was the bit at the rockabilly night, where you commented on how amazing it was to see people so committed to their particular subculture. Have you been part of a subculture like that during your life?
KH: I don’t know if I’ve ever been 100% fully devoted to a subculture. I’ve never really been a trend follower- I’ll be on top of something and the second it gets big I’m that asshole that has to stop doing or liking whatever it is. I try not to do that anymore, but, deep down,my inner indie kid feels it’s necessary.
So I guess I’m a bit of a hipster. Insert groans here, haha.
ILS: There’s a lot of that goes on in punk. Once someone gets successful, it’s like rats leaving a sinking ship. There’s a punk cartoonist by the name of Mitch Clem who wrote once that “Punks fear money like a caveman might fear fire.” It’s nice to know that notion isn’t specific to our little corner of the cultural landscape.
As far as culture more broadly goes, what are your major reference points?
KH: I think anyone that belongs to any kind of non-mainstream type grouping has the whole selling out fear deeply ingrained.
Ooh um, major reference points, hmm, broad culture…
Well music for me is huge. It’s always played a major role for me- creatively and otherwise. I’ll use it to get in the right mood to write or to remind me of certain events and moments. There’s some specific tunes that immediately drag me into my sorrows- where I tend to have my more clever moments.
I’m a big film fan - I have a Philosophy and Film degree - I love teen flicks- so I think that it all kind of goes hand in hand. Teen flicks tend to have loads of music, deal with relationships … that whole thing. I love that. I like to examine how people relate- understand one another- which of course also relates to philosophy. It’s all connected, heh.
ILS: Who are your favourite philosophers? I was in Edinburgh with my dad a few years ago, and I was excited to take a photo of the David Hume statue just down the road from the castle. When we got to it, it had a huge traffic cone on it’s head. Still not sure whether that was awesome or shitty.
KH: I was there a week or so ago and no traffic cone- I’ve seen that in Glasgow outside of the art gallery on a statue- Hume is very interesting mmhmm
Anyhoo- my favourite will always be Nietzsche and I know that it sounds a bit like a cop-out, but existentialism is probably the area I’m most interested in- Human, All Too Human is one of my all time favourites. I love his idea of the fettered spirit vs. free spirit. I also really dig Kierkegaard - different areas of Chinese philosophy are really interesting as well- But Nietzsche will always take the cake.
ILS: Correct me if I’m wrong, but you’re living in Manchester now, aren’t you? How do you feel about the city, and how do you interact with it on a daily basis?
KH: I am living in Manchester at the moment- oddly enough I’m potentially moving in the next month or so-
I have a weird relationship with Manchester- I love the city, but in a true ‘love’ love kind of way where you accept all the good and the bad. I’ve had some seriously tough times in this city and I can’t seem to separate it from that- but at the same time it has some of the best bloody cafes I have ever been to. The industrial revolution began here! That’s awesome! I’m also living in the swankiest apartment that I probably will ever live in and the rent is silly cheap.
Wherever I live- I do make a effort to explore and really see every part of the city. I walk everywhere until I feel that I’ve “conquered” it. But my focus in general is cafe culture. I bloody love a good brew and a baked good.
ILS: I only really know Oldham Street, and Salford, the former because it’s full of comic shops and arty book shops, and the latter because it’s where my mates live.
If I remember correctly, you had first hand experience of the rioting that hit Manchester earlier in the year. Do you want to talk a little bit about that?
KH: I did-I work at a cafe and it was one of the places that go hit pretty badly. It was really strange … you could just see people filtering out of the city center and I kept hoping that nothing would happen but then we started to see these big groups of kids/teens heading downtown wearing dark clothes with their faces covered. Freaky stuff… so finally our management said we could close and just as we’d finished tidying up and we’re getting ready to leave they broke our windows- luckily they didn’t come in just then (they came back later and trashed the place, broke our pastry case etc) but it definitely wasn’t my favorite Manchester moment. I just remember running down the stairs trying to figure out if it was safer to hide or try and run through the crowds outside… horrible.
Got home safe eventually just crazy- I was really hoping that Manchester would stay out of the whole riot scenario.
ILS: I remember seeing your Twitter feed as it was going on, along with tweets from a few other UK comics folks asking if you were ok. There was definitely an air of tension up and down the country, and a very real fear at times. Did that experience colour your view of Manchester, or the UK, at all?
KH: It’s strange- I don’t think the whole thing really affected my view of Manchester in a negative way- if anything the amount of people who pulled together to clean up the city and lend support afterwards was super overwhelming and uplifting.
I guess I feel like people in any city have the potential to do something of that nature- if anything shocked me it was the age of the rioters. So many kids and teens- that was upsetting.
ILS: What is it about comics that draws you to the medium?
KH: I think I’m drawn to comics in a very similar way that I’m drawn to film. Film combines, acting, music, and all these lovely visual aspects- comics do the same- they combine words and pictures. I think an image at times can provoke so much thought and emotion- without having to give you the answer and spell it out to you. But an image drawn from someone’s hand emotes in a different way- I find that so bloody interesting. I think that’s why I’m so drawn to autobio comics, you get the extra pleasure with how things are drawn- how people represent themselves.
I like being pleased about what I’m reading and then getting the extra BABAM! at the artwork.
Awww comics are just bloody fantastic. heh
ILS: I’ve never thought about it that way before, but now that I think about it, you’ve got a point. The works of Joe Sacco, and Craig Thompson’s Blankets come to mind, in terms of that very expressive linework that, like you say, comes straight from their own hand.
Of course, comics have the added bonus over film in that they’re much cheaper to produce in most cases, and require less hoop jumping.
KH: It’s true- that is probably the best part about comics- a single person can call all of the shots and really make it what they want. Surely there are improvements that can be made via the input of others, but there is something to be said for a singular idea being developed beginning to end from a single source or idea.
Comics are very different in so many ways I think mmhm
ILS: Have you had any opportunities to do comics work beyond your self-published stuff?
KH: Not really as of yet- I’m going to be in the next Paper Science in early 2012- I’m really excited about that actually.
I’ve done a few bits and bobs here and there for friends or other things- but that will be my first major thing outside of my own stuff.
ILS: For the benefit of those who aren’t familiar with it, and I include myself in this, what’s Paper Science?
KH: Paper Science is put together by We Are Words + Pictures which is a group of comic artists and writers who promote comics at festivals and events all over the UK. They also do this via Paper Science which is a quarterly anthology that runs with support of Newspaper Club. I’ll be in the 7th issue- the 6th one has just come out this weekend. Really fantastic stuff for only a couple pounds!
ILS: How have you found the comics scene in the UK? I noticed the Phonogram lads, Jamie and Kieron, popped up in Galavant.
KH: The UK comics scene is good. I personally really dig it. Since I got out of uni, the lion’s share of my friendships have been with comic artists or people related to the comic scene by some happy coincidence. I really like the Toronto folk but I haven’t really done comics in Canada, I started out in the UK scene. I never felt that push to do it back home. Most of my friends there are published whereas most of my friends in the UK are self-published. I think it’s much more encouraging to get your own work done when you see what all of your friends have accomplished of their own accord. I also really like the level of control that you can have by making something yourself.
I rambled on a bit about this at TCAF but I just feel that this scene has a more “give it a go!” feeling whereas back home I’d look at the professional stuff that friends were creating and I’d feel like I should just quit while I’m ahead.
Ah and to add.. yes Jamie, Kieron… and loads of other amazing British comic artists/ writers have been so bloody welcoming and supportive - not only with my comic shenanigans. Loveliest people.
ILS: Do you think that’s to do with relative proximity to the major US players, in terms of publishing?
KH: I do think so- not only that but you have Drawn & Quarterly super close by and loads of other publishers. That being said though, there are quite a few publishers that have popped up in the UK over the last few years who are allowing for some incredible opportunities for UK artists. I think things are definitely changing.
ILS: How has getting your work out there via the web been for you?
KH: I don’t have much experience with comics outside of throwin’ ‘em up on the web- but it has definitely been a positive experience. You get this immediate response from people- you don’t really get that when you toil away at a book and then release it. Every page is out there and each individual moment is getting a reaction. It’s neat.
But since printing the full Galavant collection I’ve also had the opportunity to hear from people who have never read it online and have bought the book. Neat seeing how the two experiences differ.
ILS: Right then, I think that’ll do us. Have you got anything you’d like to add before I let you go?
KH: Hmmmm ponder ponder… I don’t think so. heh.
(Andy’s note: This interview was conducted between the 6th of October and the 5th of November, 2011)
Kayla Marie Hillier is a comics creator and pastry slinger based in the UK. She is originally from Canada, where the friendly people come from. She can be found at her website, and her autobiographical webcomic, Galavant.
Female Super-Hero Characters and Sex: Creators Explain How Comics Can Do Better -
A lengthy discussion with me, Kieron Gillen, Erika Moen, Kurt Busiek, Greg Rucka, G. Willow Wilson, Jeff Parker, Jess Fink, Brandon Graham, Sana Amanat, and Rachel Edidin. Worth a read.
Hadn’t seen this until tonight. If I didn’t already know Jamie has a social science background, I think I’d pick it up from his contribution. Very interesting piece.
“The “Occupy” movement, whether displaying itself on Wall Street or in the streets of Oakland (which has, with unspeakable cowardice, embraced it) is anything but an exercise of our blessed First Amendment. “Occupy” is nothing but a pack of louts, thieves, and rapists, an unruly mob, fed by Woodstock-era nostalgia and putrid false righteousness. These clowns can do nothing but harm America.”
So begins Frank Miller’s recent blog post about the “Occupy” phenomenon. For those who aren’t familiar with his work, Frank Miller is a comics writer and artist of some considerable standing. While critical response to his more recent work is varied, his work in the 1980s, and, to a lesser extent, the 1990s, is considered by many to be one of the most important bodies of comics literature of all time.
His run on Daredevil: The Man Without Fear, beginning in 1979, redefined the character, and his cinematic style, heavily influenced by film noir, invited a new generation of creators to rethink what could be done with the medium.
His Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, produced in collaboration with Klaus Janson and Lynn Varley is a compelling and evocative character study, examining the motivations and methodology of an aging Bruce Wayne, determined to reclaim his city and the world from corruption and crime, even it means sacrificing himself in the process. It is by turns a work of masterful adventure storytelling, a biting satire of the “talking head” political commentators of our time, and a beautiful, often genuinely stunning, work of art.
I could go on a lot longer, imploring you to consider the subtle tensions in Batman: Year One, to those familiar with the work, clearly a key source of inspiration for Christopher Nolan’s incredibly popular film, Batman Begins. Or maybe I could talk about the use of contrast in the oppressive and claustrophobic violence of Sin City?
I’m not going to do any of that, because that’s not the point of this piece. I just wanted to make it very clear that I have been a fan of Frank Miller’s work, or much of it, for quite a while, and while I have problems with some of it, I can appreciate that he is a master of the craft of comics storytelling.
None of that matters here, because here and now, in this most recent tirade, Frank Miller is quite simply wrong, and I intend to explain why.
Firstly, Miller appears to be labouring under the misapprehension that “Occupy” as a phenomenon, is exclusive to New York and Oakland, or at the very least, he appears to be implying that it is concentrated primarily in those places. While these expressions of the phenomenon are almost certainly the largest, “Occupy” exists in a great many places, across multiple continents. The Guardian’s Data Blog has an interactive map charting the brood brush strokes of “Occupy” in terms of attendance estimates and locations. Without putting too fine a point on it, the map speaks for itself.
Miller claims that Oakland has embraced “Occupy” “with unspeakable cowardice”. He doesn’t back up that assertion, but maybe he doesn’t feel he needs to. I’m certainly not prepared to put words in his mouth, but I will say this: Miller grew up in Montpelier, Vermont, and while he spent much of his early career living in New York’s Hell’s Kitchen, I think it’s fair to say he made a significant amount of money in the 1980s, and has made fair bit since, given the continued success of his most famous comics works, and the success of films based on his creator owned work.
What I’m getting at, is that Frank Miller may have known poverty at certain times of his life, and he may recognise it in others, but he is no longer of poverty himself, if he ever was.
The US Census Bureau provides vast amounts of free to access data gathered under it’s American Community Survey. The five year estimates for 2005-2009 suggest that Montpelier city, Vermont, the town in which Miller grew up, has 11.9% of individuals living below the poverty line. This is below the figure for the US as a whole, which stands at 13.5%. The ACS gives a margin of error of +/-3.1. Now, Miller might very well have been living in poverty during his younger days, but unless Montpelier has been on the up and up since he lived there, it’s poverty levels more broadly are fairly average.
Now let’s take a look at Oakland. According to the exact same data set, 17.5% of Oakland’s population live below the poverty line. This time around, the margin for error is +/-0.6, so the ACS is a damn sight surer of these figures. In addition to it’s high levels of poverty, when compared to the average across the US, Oakland also enjoys a high level of ethnic diversity, unsurprising since so many African Americans moved there for work in the post-war period.
Now, I should stress that my picture of Oakland is amassed from what I’ve garnered from news reports over the years, accounts of the place in music and film, social science resources like those featured above, and the autobiography of Huey P. Newton, Revolutionary Suicide. I don’t know this town, but then how well does Frank Miller know it? Perhaps he’s deeply familiar with Oakland, it’s history, and it’s people, and therefore has a firm foundation on which to base his assertions about it’s people, and their relative levels of courage. We can’t know that, but what I know is this. Given it’s history, it’s economics, and it’s relative poverty, it doesn’t look like the type of place to be apathetic about economic injustice.
“”Occupy” is nothing but a pack of louts, thieves, and rapists, an unruly mob, fed by Woodstock-era nostalgia and putrid false righteousness.”
This is almost certainly the single most malignant sentence in Miller’s piece. Note that he is not merely saying that there are “louts, thieves, and rapists” within the “Occupy” movement. Indeed, for any body of people of that kind of size, we could very well expect some of them to be thieves and rapists (an unfortunate, but very well documented phenomenon, to which progressive movements are unfortunately not exempt). However, Miller isn’t saying this. He’s saying that the people who make up “Occupy” are “nothing but” these things, “an unruly mob, fed by Woodstock-era nostalgia and putrid false righteousness.” Miller doesn’t back this last assertion up with any evidence. Considering how frequently I myself am asked what the Hell I’m talking about, when I make reference to some aspect of this era in conversation with my peers, I’m loathe to believe that “Woodstock-era nostalgia” is some far-reaching or defining quality of my generation, though I could be wrong. Either way, we might want to steer clear of the brown acid.
““Occupy” is nothing short of a clumsy, poorly-expressed attempt at anarchy, to the extent that the “movement” – HAH! Some “movement”, except if the word “bowel” is attached - is anything more than an ugly fashion statement by a bunch of iPhone, iPad wielding spoiled brats who should stop getting in the way of working people and find jobs for themselves.”
It’s here that Miller gets dangerously close to having a point. The “Occupy” movement is undoubtedly clumsy, and has been poorly-expressed at times. This, however, is the nature of a fledgling movement, attempting to veer away from hierarchy and dogma. Plenty of people, within the movement and without, have acknowledged these points. That it’s an attempt at “anarchy” however, is a shaky assertion indeed. From what I can gather, the “Occupy” movement is composed of individuals from a range of backgrounds and political ideologies. There are, undoubtedly, Anarchists in this mix, but there are also socialists, social democrats, and others, all with their own particular perspective, and, one must assume, their own particular views on the best way for “Occupy” to proceed. Painting such a grouping, across many nations and continents, as some sort of ideological monolith is simply absurd. Indeed, seeking to portray Anarchism as a monolith is ridiculous too, but that’s much of a muchness here.
There are accounts all over the internet from people involved with “Occupy” who have gainful employment of one kind or another (you can search for those on your own time, chums), and while there are certainly valid questions about the relative class privilege of a proportion of the protesters, you can all make up your own minds as to whether every last “Occupy” protester is weighed down by a rucksack full of Apple products. I’m not even going to dignify Miller’s apparent contempt for unemployed youth with a response.
“This is no popular uprising. This is garbage. And goodness knows they’re spewing their garbage – both politically and physically – every which way they can find.
Wake up, pond scum. America is at war against a ruthless enemy.”
It’s here that Miller takes something of a shift in the direction of his bile.
“Maybe, between bouts of self-pity and all the other tasty tidbits of narcissism you’ve been served up in your sheltered, comfy little worlds, you’ve heard terms like al-Qaeda and Islamicism.
And this enemy of mine — not of yours, apparently - must be getting a dark chuckle, if not an outright horselaugh - out of your vain, childish, self-destructive spectacle.
In the name of decency, go home to your parents, you losers. Go back to your mommas’ basements and play with your Lords Of Warcraft.
Or better yet, enlist for the real thing. Maybe our military could whip some of you into shape.
They might not let you babies keep your iPhones, though. Try to soldier on.
Are we to ignore economic injustice simply because Radical Islamist Terrorism is a thing? Apparently so, if Frank is to be believed. On this point, I’ll refer you to David Brothers’ extremely well executed critique of Frank Miller’s Holy Terror. You’ll find it in book shops all over the place. I know I have. Holy Terror that is, not David’s review, more’s the pity. The following is an extended quote from David’s article, which you can find in full here.
The Fixer nabs a terrorist and calls him “Mohammed,” because “you’ve got to admit that the odds are pretty good it’s Mohammed.” They call him “Moe” throughout the rest of the book. The terrorists are viewed as something sub-human. One page contrasts Americans watching a Transformers-style movie on a big screen with Arabs stoning a woman buried up to her neck in the dirt while calling her an infidel, slut, and whore. A generic man in a suit takes his wife, wearing an Afghani Burqa, beats her, and then leaves the house. And finally, when Natalie infiltrates a mosque, she thinks, “the night wind blows away seven centuries.”
The constant bashing of Islam as a throwback to the Dark Ages is stupid, ugly, and tiresome. It’s also factually incorrect. While Europe was in the midst of the so-called Dark Ages, the Arab world was in the middle of what was essentially a golden age of enlightenment. They made vital discoveries and advances in science, math, medicine, art, architecture, and several other areas that had a profound impact on the rest of human civilization.
Al-Qaeda is treated in the text as something that is representative of Islam, rather than something that is a twisted, rotted off-shoot. Conversely, the Ku Klux Klan are terrorists are nominally Christian, but they’re never portrayed as representative of Christianity or whites. Again and again, Miller hammers home outdated and bigoted assumptions. The Fixer and Natalie Stack approach torture with glee, Natalie sends a terrorist off to his “seventy-two black-eyed virgins,” and on and on and on. They’re fighting Islam, not Al-Qaeda, and the book suffers greatly for it.
I strongly suggest that you take the time to read the full text of David’s article. It really is a great piece, and examines the relative merits and deep and troubling shortcomings of the work in an even handed way I don’t believe I’d be able to muster myself.
Somewhere along the way, as an avid comics reader, I stopped reading what Frank Miller had to say in interviews, and a short while later, I stopped reading his new work altogether. Over the years, I’ve wondered whether parting ways with such a gifted creator was the right tack to take, but at this point, I’m sure that it was. I have no interest in supporting this man, or his work, while he continues to hold what I take to be deeply troubling political beliefs. I sincerely hope he changes his mind.
There’s a sequence in Miller’s sequel to The Dark Knight Returns, The Dark Knight Strikes Again, where Batman stands in front of a huge mass of confused but righteously angry young people, and entreats them to turn their anger into a positive force for change, and ultimately, for justice. It’s a sequence I’ve gone back to over and over again, and when I hit upon the idea of donating money to Oxfam each time I spent money on comics, and inviting my comics reading friends to do the same, putting a name to the enterprise wasn’t much work.
It’s also the spirit I believe lies behind this enterprise.
So it’s with this quote that I leave you, and I’ll stand by it, even though I’ve left the man who wrote it, Frank Miller, to his thoughts. I hope that it inspires you, whether you’re involved in “Occupy” or not, to do your bit to work toward a more just world, in which the boundless aspirations of the seven billion or so of us who make up this clumsy, ambling, but ultimately hopeful species, are matched by a wealth of opportunities and capabilities to achieve those aspirations.
“CHILDREN, PULL ON YOUR TIGHTS—
—AND GIVE THEM HELL.”
Andy Waterfield is the founder/curator of I Live Sweat, and a News Editor at Punknews.org, and when he isn’t thinking about punk rock and comics, he’s probably thinking about the films of Terry-Thomas, social science, or Marmite. He has a couple of degrees in the social sciences, if anyone fancies giving him a job. Not that he’s unemployed at present - sorry, Frank!
My Sober Year: Day 2: consent, and why it is so fucking important -
music: battlefields : entourage of the archaic : entourage of the archaic (2007)
we’ve been kissing for weeks. soft, intrepid, nervous lips touching. at first they just grazed, but as time has progressed they’ve come to know one another more intimately. it wasn’t until last night, straddled…
Trigger warning for the obvious subtext: This is bloody magnificent. Spread it far and wide.
I want to write something about how Southampton is one of the most vital cities in Britain; but I can’t. In reality it has become another homogenized, identikit high-street town with Primark pavements and the trodden in gum of Tesco and Wetherspoons getting stuck to the bottom of our shoes. As a friend said to me recently: “these days ‘local culture’ means talking about the X-Factor in different accents”.
When I started writing this I was reminded of the 1980s and 1990s when zines became a huge youth phenomenon. Thatcher in the 1980s inspired a huge amount of music, writing and comedy; I had hoped that the pantomime villainy of the Tory government would have done the same thing for our generation. The Internet has meant that this rage (that could be used for forming band,s or stand up comedy, or writing a zine) is often expended via 140 derisive characters, or blogging. As someone who has written 18,744 tweets in less than two years, I’m obviously not criticising this form of communication. But I do think there are other, perhaps better and more organic, ways of utilizing our creativity. The instantaneous nature of blogging means that it is often somewhat thoughtless and requires little to no effort; there isn’t much love or attentiveness.
The 1980s saw a huge outpouring of creative energies, especially when it came to zines. These were often based around a small area or community, and that geographically situated spirit is something I’d love to see emerging again. Similarly, the riot grrrl zines of the 1990s inspired a great D.I.Y. attitude that had direct influence on local scenes and movements. It’s all very well talking to people who have the same favourite band as you, but if they live in South Africa or America the culturally bereft landscape of your hometown is going to remain depressingly blank. Think of Manchester in the 1980s; having your own Johnny Marr knocking on your front doorstep is infinitely better than sitting on Tumblr swapping bootlegs with a stranger in Tennessee.
So, I have a proposal. Let’s stop focusing our energies on the 2D faces of people we only know via screens, and use them instead to make something great in the city we live in. We can utilise social networking and we can swap ideas with creative people across the planet; I think that’s one of the biggest advantages of our modern obsession with the Internet. But sometimes we need to turn off our computers and start doing stuff with the people who live in the next street. Even with a perfect combination of club nights, bands, writing groups, zines, art collectives we probably couldn’t get rid of the Tory government or the multinational business conglomerates that invade our city. But we can really, REALLY piss them off.
Jane Doe is the kind of person Grant Morrison always hoped The Invisibles would create.