Friday, September 14, 2012

Sisters, doing it for themselves #1: "Drink! Girls!"

“I’m late, I’m late, for a very important date”
Too much fun?
Nah, but phew!
Writing, several weeks ago, about the crazy busy time I’d been having, I mentioned another adventure in the Glasgow indie comics scene. It’s a measure of just how crazy busy I’ve been (and that’s both crazy busy and just a bit plain crazy too) that it’s taken me this long to get round to writing up an exciting event which took place way back on July 26th. It’s also a bit embarrassing, but I can live with that; I’ve already had to live down worse thanks to RD/KA! after all!

Style & attitude!
Once again demonstrating the way in which the tendrils of social networking are working their way into our lives (a demonstration which will later prove to be strangely apt…), today’s story started with yet another random item popping up in my newsfeed via a fB friend. This is already ubiquitous enough to have become almost boring- or would so become if the results haven’t so far proved so exciting. It’s certainly difficult, as a writer, to vary your hooks for stories when so many seem to be starting with the fB newsfeed! Anyway, the event in question was COMICS NIGHT! with Team Girl Comic, in Glasgow’s well known centre of alternative grassroots culture (and oldest pub), the Scotia Bar. Comics? Girls? Drink? I needed no second bidding.

Down the wabbithole!
The collective
Team Girl Comic- a “Glasgow based all-female comic collective from a variety of ages and backgrounds”, are a perfect example of the cultural explosion covered so well by Lori in her video- Participate: The revolution of fan culture, about which I wrote back in December 2009. A big theme of Lori’s video is how the new electronic media have encouraged a flood tide of grassroots participation, by geeks, in all spheres of geekery. This is exactly what TGC are doing:
  • They’ve produced 5 comic anthologies in the space of 3 years (including taking #1 to 3 print runs and #s 2 and 3 to 2 print runs each).
  • They’ve gone global, with their website, and with the Kickstarter project they used earlier this year to fund both #5 and reprints.
Like I said then, TGC exemplify all that is best about how the new internet-driven cultural environment enables fans to move beyond being ‘mere’ consumers to being active producers.

The event
The Scotia
The same chutzpah TGC have already shown with their comic and with their Kickstarter project they took to a new level with the event I attended. COMICS NIGHT! with Team Girl Comic was a special event to launch TGC#5. Staging this event in the Scotia Bar was a smart move. Why? Because, as I’ve already said, the Scotia is a venue which is central to Glasgow’s alternative radical cultural scene, and has been for decades. So, by staging their launch event there, TGC took themselves (and, by extension, the rest of Glasgow’s thriving indie comics scene) from the ‘geekish fringes’ of the city’s alt-culture scene, right to its pulsing heart. This was a very astute move.

The event itself was as well put together as the venue was smartly chosen. As well as tables where some of the collective were showing their wares there were:
  • A gallery of comic art.
  • Guest artists with their own comics.
  • Lots of pens, pencils and paper for attendees to get drawing: a nice nod to the participatory ethos I’ve already talked about, this included round robin comic strips in which big sheets of paper were passed around so people could add their own panels to a comic page.
  • And a pub quiz (no night out like this would be complete without a pub quiz, would it?!).
I tried my hand at some drawing but was frankly too appalled at the results to join in with a collective comic strip. I considered hanging around for the pub quiz but by this time I needed to repair to quieter and less cramped surroundings elsewhere in the Scotia to clear my head (close confines, general hubbub and my phase 1 hypomania weren’t mixing well).

The girls
So, armed with my instruments of Blatant Self-Advertisement and my notebook and pen, I introduced myself and did the rounds of the tables of the comics creators there present. Unfortunately one thing I wasn’t armed with that night was my camera (when will I learn?). As a result my pictures- taken with my bottom-of-the-range mobile's camera, were so terrible that I had to play some games with filters on Picasa to make something of a feature(!) of their crapitude. You can also (and really should) go here to find TGC’s own pictures of the night, which show what things really looked like!
Jessica Hatcher & Claire Yvette
(also here)
Colleen Campbell & Gill Hatcher
Jef Sinclair
Penny Sharp & some random punter
There are more than 20 women and girls involved in TGC so not all of them could turn out for the night at the Scotia. I counted 5 behind the tables, as well as 1 who turned up later. They were all justly proud of their work, not to mention just a wee bit overwhelmed by the astonishing turnout. The Scotia’s back room was stowed out, with barely enough room for the dozens and dozens of comics fans who turned out to join in the activities TGC had laid on to make the evening go with a bang.

So that's the drink, and the girls. Next time I'll take a look at their comics. In the meantime, I must just apologise once again for my terrible photos. I'll try to do better in future, I promise! ;)

- Sisters, doing it for themselves #2: the comics, and more!

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