I’m putting together a sketchbook zine with small drawings and comics made in my local park. This took place in the park but I drew it from ‘memory’ back at home.
I think we all have a Fairy Princess Cushion in our lives, don’t we?
I used a blank scan of white paper to make the ultrasound image, turning up the contrast to pick out texture. And I fiddled with ‘warp’ in Photoshop. I liked the connection between scanning this artwork about having a scan, and making my own scan image by scanning ‘nothing’ to illustrate my ‘nothing there’ scan at the Early Pregnancy Assessment Clinic (EPAC). The results of the actual scan are in my medical notes, which I extracted from the hospital last year. The medical notes helped me to remember certain details about it.
It’s probably a bit odd to those who understand comics that the radiographer’s speech isn’t in bubbles. She has taken over my narration – I did this to reflect the feeling of having no control over what happened in my story at that point. It was more about the scan machine governing my story – telling me what might happen next. Maybe it will be too confusing in context – any thoughts welcome.
Pixelmix 8-bit font by Andrew Tyler: http://andrewtyler.net/
My first printed comic, Spooky Womb (A true-ish uterine tale), is back from the printer. I’m just hand colouring the covers. I’ll be taking it to Comica Comiket on November 10th which takes place at The Bishopsgate Institute, London. After that, I’ll make it available online.
The grey covers have hand coloured elements – painted whites of eyes and rosy cheeks (Karisma pencil ‘Scarlet Lake’). The cover paper came from a local recycled paper wholesaler, only a ten-minute walk from my house. The comic is printed on 100% recycled stock.
I knew I wouldn’t be quite so busy with paid freelance work in October, so I gave myself last month to write, draw and get a comic printed – with a Halloween deadline (I made it but the printer didn’t!) And I had to get the whole ‘anthropomorphising a uterus’ thing out of my system. It’s been quite a learning curve but one I wanted to get on, so I could take part in comics fairs etc.
Spooky Womb is a short autobiographical 10-page spin-off from my work in progress, The Facts of Life. The story isn’t all that spooky in reality. ‘Spooky’ in this context refers to the nature of our bodies, which can behave in unexpected, mysterious and hidden ways that we can’t necessarily control, especially hormonally.
It was a good exercise in sorting out how to draw myself for the graphic memoir – something I’ve been struggling over. Still not sure I’ve cracked it, especially continuity-wise, but it’s getting closer to what I want. A friend once said that I draw ‘lollipop heads’ i.e. out of proportion (too big) with the rest of the body. It was an observation rather than a criticism but it’s something I’m trying to avoid. Some illustrators do this on purpose to achieve a ‘cute’ style. For me, it’s probably a habit formed from years in children’s illustration where head-to-body ratio is smaller (children’s heads being larger in pro to the rest of their bodies than adults’ heads are).
Anyway, I’m pretty pleased with the comic but plenty learnt for next time! After Comiket, I’ll be getting down to The Facts of Life again, so to speak.
I did these roughs for a comic, in my sketchbook, about an affecting episode that happened last week. I wanted to draw this from from memory with no reference materials. I’ve changed some names and details to protect the identity of the main character (I hope): [click to view more clearly]
I felt it was too intrusive to ask what was wrong with ‘Diana’. But I presumed (perhaps wrongly) that it was a form of Dementia or Alzheimers. Diana might have been quite happy, so perhaps my sadness was some sort of personal projection onto the situation.
Afterwards we went to Porthcurno and saw dolphins; I felt thankful for my own lucidity and relative good health. Not sure if I’ll go on to ink this up – just wanted to share it.
Click to view:
There are supportive communities online for those who are childless by circumstance and for those who are childless by choice. I’ve never felt that I can totally identify myself with either label.
I’m not keen on any term that defines you by what you are not. It seems rather negative. There has been much discussion about this topic on Gateway Women, a site conceived by Jody Day to bring together, and celebrate, women who don’t have children for whatever reason. She coined the term ‘nomo’ (not a mother). Again, the term certainly isn’t for me for the reasons stated above, but the site has some interesting articles and is a good place to go if you’re seeking solidarity with others in a similar situation.
In short, people who didn’t procreate shouldn’t have to be defined by that very fact. However, and all too often, women of my age are.
There’s no such thing as a biological clock; it’s just a metaphor for the finite amount of time a woman has in which to procreate using her own eggs. I’ve also heard words such as ‘fertility time-bomb‘ used in relation to this, but I don’t personally know of any women who have exploded as a result of their eggs running out. It’s part of the alarmist rhetoric used to browbeat women who, for whatever reason (and there are many), end up trying for children in later life. I can’t argue that it isn’t preferable/easier, biologically-speaking, to have children earlier in life, but societal, economical, political, personal and career circumstances simply don’t afford that opportunity for everyone. This topic is too gargantuan for me to address in a teensy blog post!
This page, intended as part of my graphic memoir, is my expression of that feeling. For me, it felt like a black or white, either/or situation. Whether this was the truth is irrelevant – that was my experience.
You might notice that the figure drawing of the ‘pregnant’ me is a little off. This is because the ref. I used was a photo of me with a cushion stuffed up my jumper.
This is included in Bristol-based Bearpit zine #4 along with work by Andrew Godfrey, Emma Mould, Simon (Smoo) Moreton, Nick Soucek (Miscomp), El Sub Star, Graham Johnson and Karl Whiteley. The theme for this zine is ‘other’. It’s the first time my work has appeared in a comic, unless you count Jackie magazine circa 1983! I have a handful for sale at £2.50.
I’ll be talking about this, and other work, at Laydeez do Comics Bristol on August 8th, along with Nicola Streeten, Sarah Lightman, Katie Green, Andrew Godfrey and Emma Mould, and Simon Moreton. Do come along!
Other news: My work In Hospita(l)able was used in Amerisa Waters’ paper at the Comics and Medicine conference in Toronto. I would have loved to attend this conference but was unable, so it was a nice surprise to discover that some of my work appeared there! Sounds like it was fantastic event.