First off, I love Lynda Barry. It was my plan to ask for her hand in marriage, but I didn’t end up doing that, and not because I see a lot of problems with that particular institution, or it not being legal for two women to marry, or even the fact that she is already married, but that lady makes me feel SHY! She’s everything I would want in a partner, seriously — radical feminist and activist, funny, creative, confident, and such GOOD GLASSES.
During her talk she covered topics from sticking cartoon characters / political figures into slits she has cut into magazine clippings of spaghetti and meatballs as a cure for depression, (she said “I always have always suffered from depression and will probably always will”, women in comics (women with balls! who no longer had to limit themselves to writing about women!), chasing around comic book heroes, cactus comics (and how she got famous by making the thing that pissed the right person off), and so much else! I was crying, literally, little tiny streaks down my face — like when it’s just enough to wet the corner of your eye because you’ve been waiting for someone like this to come around and here she is, telling you everything you needed to hear right in that moment. I want to hear that talk again.
& I did notice a lot of women around the fest, not only buying, but selling. That’s awesome! But, that doesn’t mean we should stop fretting about sexism and feminism and it’s place in comics. Not to mention racism, homophobia, transphobia, and classism. Barry asked me to look down the row of sellers — see how many women there were? Yes, I saw them, as much as I see “woman” as an essintial thing — but what I also saw was a row of white people. & I wouldn’t begin to even try to guess whether or not any of the people I saw were trans, queer, or of a certain class. Those things can be hard to tell sometimes, but I can say I didn’t see any queer zines. For that matter, I didn’t see any overtly political comics. I would say Barry’s comics are invested in politics, but I didn’t see a lot else that fell into that same category. I saw the new Adrian Tomine comic about marriage (ack!) and some beautiful art comics (liked the work of Rob Corradetti, and my friend Par bought a comic about plant life!) This work is important — but I want to know — why weren’t there very many people outside of a certain demographic. And although it’s great that women don’t have to write about women, why weren’t many of them writing about feminism? Why wasn’t anyone writing about race? Where were the queers? (I saw a few. I checked one out, and we flirted a little, but where were the comics with queer content?!)
I asked Lynda Barry why she thought there were so many white guys in the field (not that there’s anything wrong with white guys themselves, I just have a problem with the system that allows them to have so much privilege!) and she said something pretty great : “white guys are like trash in the street — they’re everywhere — just blowin’ around.” Or something to that effect. But there really needs to be more radical comics, and they shouldn’t have a special room set aside for them, like the did at the NYC Art Book Fair. They should be included with the rest of the work — because it is necessary work that is not getting the visibility it deserves. Why isn’t it made visible? What’s at stake, comic world? What is it that you’re afraid of? If anything the “independent” comic scene should be the space for that kind of work, because we can’t only have an aesthetic (“art for art’s sake — the importance of beauty) (I complimented a guy on his shirt and he brushed by me with a snide “Thanks, I made it”) but a politicized aesthetic — because to me, even if it will never happen, utopias are beautiful. Let’s make them both in our living (bodily) lives and our creative lives.
(PS: LYNDA BARRY TOLD ME I WAS “SO BEAUTIFUL” AND THAT SHE “DIDN’T EVEN HAVE TO DRAW ME! AHHH!)