Hello and greetings from Dundee, Scotland! My name is Rachel Davis. I am a Comics and Graphic Novels Masters student at the University of Dundee and co-founder of Laydeez Do Comics Dundee!
On 31 May, Laydeez Do Comics Dundee had its first meeting. The theme was ‘Comics and Memory’. Below is an overview of the day with illustrations and comics provided by Emma Oosterhous and Emma Canziani, my fellow Masters students!
Following a brief introduction by co-founders Grace Wright, Hailey Austin, and myself, Rebecca Horner – cartoonist and colorist at Ink Pot Studio, workshop coordinator for the Dundee Comics Creative Space, and cool person extraordinaire – led us in making our own comics. She ensured that Laydeez Do Comics Dundee lived up to its ‘Do Comics’ name!
Rebecca had each guest draw a memory from the person sitting across from them. Two Masters students, Cecilia Lee and Holly Roberts, helped us brainstorm ideas. The next 30 minutes saw a flurry of chatter and drawing!
At the end of the workshop, everyone shared their comics. The comics included sentient goats, self-combusting turkeys, babies riding scooters, and equally memorable memories. Laughs were had by all. People spent the break chatting and connecting with one another.
Welcome and The Question
My fellow co-founders Grace and Hailey joined me in welcoming everyone back from the break! With over 40 people at our inaugural meeting, we were ecstatic – and very eager to remind everyone of the fire exits (hence the papers in our illustrated hands).
After our welcome, we were joined by none other than the capital-L Laydee herself, Dr. Nicola Streeten. She joined us via video chat to bless our maiden voyage of a meeting. And what did she bless us with? The Question, of course!
For those unfamiliar, The Question is used by several LDC branches to initiate meetings. Each meeting has a different question, and it serves to welcome new guests and ease us all into the event,. Or, as Nicola put it:
So the Question for this meeting was:
A number of answers were provided, from publishing a first story to attending a first Laydeez Do Comics meeting. One answer, however, stood out to me, as the comic below illustrates:
Despite my disappointment at the lack of bread in attendance, the humans in attendance all supplied wonderful answers. Nicola left us energised. We all shared Thanos’ sentiment:
Speaker 1: Dr. Golnar Nabizadeh
Our first speaker was none other than Dr. Golnar Nabizadeh: Lecturer in Comic Studies at the University of Dundee, author of the recently published book Representation and Memory in Graphic Novels, and all-around wonderful professor and person (classes are over, so you know I mean it! 😉). Dr. Golnar spoke for 20 minutes on how comics portray memory.
She explored how The Photographer (2006) used multiple mediums (cartooning and photography) to illustrate types of memory in discourse with one another. Dr. Golnar clearly knew what she was talking about, but she presented her work in terms everyone could understand. She made the concept of comics and memory accessible to a non-academic audience. This was evidenced by the number of questions that followed afterwards where those unfamiliar with the concepts she introduced asked follow-up questions. For instance, one person, the photographer Nick Brodie, asked a question informed by his work as a visual, non-comics artist. Dr. Golnar gave an excellent talk! What a laydee!
Speaker 2 (through 5): A Roundtable Discussion
Subsequently, Ink Pot Studio artist Ashling Larkin led Comics Studies Ph.D student Megan Sinclair, Ink Pot Studio artist Catriona Laird and Comics Studies Ph.D student and LDC Dundee co-founder Hailey Austin in a roundtable discussion on how memory informs their work.
The next 20 minutes saw an honest discussion on how memory effected their work. Megan specialises in traumatic memory, graphic medicine, and superhero comics. She discussed how her specialities informed her comic Close to the Heart, an autobiographical retelling of her father’s death. In contrast, Catriona discussed the advantages and disadvantages of drawing biographical – not autobiographical – comics. Hailey Austin specializes in comics archiving, so she spoke on the materiality of comics memory and discussed her comic Chronicle: The Archive and Museum Anthology. Witnessing these different types of memory was truly enlightening. A question and answer segment followed that saw guests discussing with the panelists and one another the theme of the day.
Having hosted our first meeting, we ended the meeting with a party. Cake, baked lovingly by Hailey (founder, Ph.D student, panelist, baker: what can’t she do!?), and spirits were had by all. The Emmas and Ph.D student Olivia Hicks sold their comics and artwork, and the University of Dundee Archive had a mini-exhibition highlighting some of their comic collection (including a copy of Liquorice by Nicola!)
The conversation flowed freely, and the event only ended when the building closed for the night. At the risk of sounding corny, it was a memorable evening. New friendships were made that night, and Laydeez Do Comics Dundee was born! At last, the newest branch of Laydeez Do Comics has arrived.
To learn more about Laydeez Do Comics Dundee, including the theme for our 5 July meeting, check out our Facebook here. Finally, a special thank you to the Emmas, the artists who documented our first meeting! Please check out their work (links provided next to their art).