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Female Positivity In Spades At The Second Annual Drink & Draw Like A Lady Event

DDLL East Invite

Invite by Lucy Knisley

So it’s time to come clean, I’m totally a recluse lately (and by lately I mean the last two years – ish).  It takes a herculean effort on my behalf to go out and I generally have to be motivated by an incredibly impressive event, film, get together, whatever in order to make that herculean effortDrink & Draw like a Lady (hosted by the generous 192 Books and organized by Hope Larson with help from Raina Telgemeier and Lucy Knisley) turned out to be just such an event and I’m supremely glad I dragged my lazy reclusive ass to it.

In addition to all the great women that I met, chatted, and exchanged materials with, the most awesome aspect of the evening was just the vibe – chill and relaxed, inspirational and encouraging, all at once.  I realized, standing there, surrounded by women interested in and/or involved in comics, that I’m not sure I’ve ever been in a room filled to the brim solely with women before – let alone women interested in the same kinds of things I’m interested in – comics!  It was at once empowering and comforting to be in the company of all those women, and an experience I’ll not soon forget.

There was no bitterness or competitive back biting (or negligee-clad pillow fights) as most Hollywood movies lead you to believe would naturally occur in such a situation.  Instead I saw women of all shapes, sizes, colors, ethnicities, and backgrounds just completely jazzed about meeting each other (or seeing each other again) and sharing mini-comics, business cards, and even original art.  It was just awesome.

192 Books

The group was a mix of everything from industry professionals like the aforementioned Hope Larson, Raina Telgemeier, and Lucy Knisley to students just getting started and everyone in-between.

There were apparently rumblings last year that it was unfair to exclude men from the event – and I suppose there’s a fair point there – but it’s hard to argue against women trying their best to reach out and establish a support system for other women in comics.  It’s a male-dominated medium as we all know, and I think we’ve got to do all we can to nurture these women.  I know for several of the students I talked to it was a surprising and inspiring turnout of women for them to behold, a feat that gave them confidence that there was room for them in comics.  And I can’t think of a better reaction than that.  While the event did remain women-only, there were several funny ‘no men allowed’ moments – the first of which occurred when I was outside taking pictures before I went in, when a group of guys outside had a conversation that went roughly like this:

guy 1:  “Ohmigod.  It’s ALL women in there.”

guy 2:  “How do we get in there?!”

guy 3:  “What is going on?  I have to know!”

Not long after discovering the door they also found the sign noting that the bookstore was closed for a private event, but there was much speculation as they walked away.  Later on, while I was standing near the front door (which was open now as it was pretty warm inside), a young man walked in with a huge smile on his face (the kind of smile that said he liked his odds), he was nicely turned around not long after he came in, but he had a good sense of humor about it, though his smile was slightly diminished.  Later a woman brought a man in with her, and though he looked a bit intimidated, he seemed committed to mingling.  He too, in fairness, was scooted back out not long after coming inside.  I’m not generally crazy about things being exclusionary…but there was something about creating that completely safe and positive space that was really wonderful.  It’s not a bad thing to get women with the same interests together and show them how many others like them are out there…and that whole message would have been lost in a mixed gender party.  It still would have been an awesome event with men and women…but the message, the point, the focus, and mostly the results I think, would have been different.  I don’t think I would have seen the same confidence, especially in some of those young students if the party had been a mix of men and women, instead many students and newcomers walked away with a real sense of built-in community.  A place where they couldn’t have been more included, as opposed to excluded, which is how comics can often feel for women.

Some favorites for the night:

Tara O'Conner CardFavorite business card I picked up? Artist Tara O’Connor’s adorable mini business card from Moo, had maximum impact in a tiny package.  A great illustration with lovely desaturated colors.  Additionally, I got to meet O’Connor’s fiance, Paul Abbamondi after the event and want to link to his fun superhero webcomic, Supertown because I love men that do comics too (I do, really I do!).

And while we’re talking about the mens, I wanted to mention a great article that I read on Jezebel last week by writer Mike Adamick, all about his changing attitudes towards material now that he has a daughter.  His personal piece really reminded me of a lot of you guys that have commented, or reached out to me via email – long time comic fans since you were kids, who have slowly found your ideas changing – things that you wouldn’t have thought twice about as kids, or younger men – suddenly have a different meaning now that you are fathers and husbands.  I find it incredibly encouraging for the comics medium (and hopefully other mediums as well) – almost as encouraging as I found the huge crew of enthusiastic young ladies at the event on Friday.  Change takes time, but it’s impossible not to feel like it’s really starting to happen when I go to an event like that in the same week that I read a piece like Adamick’s.

Favorite material I walked away with? An adorable (and funny) mini-comic called A Quiche Divided by Ami A Quiche DividedBoginA Quiche Divided is a cute and humorous slice of life comic starring a hedgehog and a fox (standing in for Ami and her boyfriend Mike).  You can see more of her webcomics (which update every Tuesday and Thursday) at The Glass Urchin.

A Quiche Divided DPS

Most interesting new person/project? I had a great conversation with Kristen Dolle, founder of Pink Brick House – a company about the future of women in media.  Pink Brick House is still just starting up, but the fact that Dolle was at Drink & Draw Like A Lady, tells me that she’s certainly on the right track towards making Pink Brick House a powerhouse in the arena of women in media.  I’ll be keeping an eye out for future developments with PBH.

Best Fangirl moment: This was a tie as I was equally delighted to meet both Lucy Knisley and Heidi MacDonald.

Knisley, is an indie creator I’ve lately become a huge fan of, from her pitch perfect Doc Ock piece in Girl Comics #1 that I talked about recently here, to her latest book French Milk (which I’m reading now) to her excellent webcomic – Stop Paying Attention, I think she’s absolutely one of the best female comics creators out there right now – incredibly insightful and bringing a hell of a lot of talent into the field.

Knisley and O'Conner

Lucy Knisley and Tara O’Conn0r

However, as someone that has been writing about comics pretty seriously for a little while now, meeting Heidi MacDonald was a real “get” as I’ve been following The Beat for about as long as its been around and am constantly impressed with it.  I was recently extra inspired by MacDonald’s bold move to take The Beat out on her own  – a risk that seems to be paying off wonderfully thus far.  I had a brief ‘talking shop’ conversation with MacDonald that really made me feel like I’d finally “made it as a comics professional” – when Heidi MacDonald knew who I was when I mentioned this column – I felt like I’d truly arrived.  Thanks for that moment Heidi!

Overall the group was perhaps not surprisingly, quite young, which while it seems a bit sad (where are the badass older generations that have been helping pave the way all this time?!) it did give me much hope for the future of comics – it’s clear young women are out there – involved and ready to commit to this medium in powerful numbers.  And that, for my money, is one of the best ways to keep us on this road towards inclusion and more female positivity in all forms for this medium that I so love.

Interior of DDLL

If you missed this year’s pre-MoCCA Fest DDLL (called DDLL East), then try your best to check out DDLL West if you’re a lady and you happen to be on the west coast for the 2010 Stumptown Comics Fest.  DDLL West is on Friday April 23rd, 2010, 7:30pm to Midnight at The Secret Society, 116 NE Russell Street, Portland, OR.

There’s also a great interview with Hope Larson and Raina Telegmeier about both their current work and the Drink & Draw Like A Lady event on The Beat, I urge you to check it out.

25 Comments

[...] on over to She Has No Head! for the scoop on the great time I had at the second annual Drink & Draw Like A Lady Event last [...]

[...] aforementioned Kelly Thompson who we met at DDLL mentioned me on her DDLL write up here!  Thanks [...]

Aww I’m so glad you enjoyed the mini Kelly! Mike’s actually a fox in the comic (but I have got the squirrel thing a lot… I guess the proportionality just does not add up to hedgies and foxes in real life ;P)

Agreed – I felt it was a nice change of pace from usual cons and comic gatherings to have ONE nice women-only event. :D

What a great gathering. It makes me sad that I’m just an avid fan and not a writer or artist. I would have loved to be there if only to be a fly on the wall.

Aulix: I really did. I thought it was funny and sweet – things that go well together in mini-comics. I also liked that you used animals in place of people…a technique I do generally enjoy.

As for fox or squirrel – D’oh! I corrected it in the article. I can totally see the fox now…maybe a little line on his tail to demarcate where red would separate from white – don’t most foxes have white tail ends? Whereas squirrels don’t have that all. Regardless, great meeting you and thanks for stopping by SHNH.

Mer: You should totally come next time…you would be absolutely welcome…there were all sorts of women loosely tied to the industry, and some friends into comics and hoping to work in them brought friends that they were trying to introduce to comics. Besides, being married to Brian Cronin has got to get you some perks SOMEWHERE! I kid Brian, I kid.

If you and Brian are in town for MoCCA next year let me know and we can go together.

gotta start putting together my disguise so i can get in next time. ;)

LOL..Due to oversleeping issues, then the Rangers hockey game on Sunday I totally missed the MOCCA event this year…sigh…but I hope everyone who attended had fun…

Now I have to wait til October to catch all these fine creators…

I miss the Feb-Mar NY event even more now..=(

We are actually “in town” every day (well, in Astoria). ;)

@Brian: Really? Wow. You know, I’ve been assuming you were on the west coast all this time because of the CSBG time stamp (which is pacific time). How funny. Well, hello neighbor!

Yeah, its funny. My wife and I watch way to much “reality” TV and we are consistently frustrated with female back stabbing in it…I guess its “good” casting. But in the real reality, even the recluse female, is a better socialite then her male brotheren. So for that alone it was probably a good idea to keep us guys out. That said, clearly based on industry experiences and academic experiences we know the female numbers are growing, but remain woefully disproportionate. So I think its GREAT you all had this opportunity…and I hope you have more.

As to the effect a daughter can play in a mans comic taste…I second that. Even though I didn’t have far to go, my daughter has already expanded my comics world. Despite all the exclusion I encourage the guys to go out and find some of the great comics being made by women.

@Brian: Really? Wow. You know, I’ve been assuming you were on the west coast all this time because of the CSBG time stamp (which is pacific time). How funny. Well, hello neighbor!

Ha!

Nah, the time stamp is from CBR, which is west coast based.

I thought I talked about New York more than I actually do, I guess. :)

“If you and Brian are in town for MoCCA next year let me know and we can go together.”

Last week I was telling Brian that he should email you to see if you were going to MoCCA and see if you wanted to meet up with us. Unfortunately, it slipped both our minds.

Also, I just finished the Mike Adamick article. I love it! I want to watch the original Clash of the Titans again (I LOVED it as a kid) with adult eyes. I hope it holds up better than the new version – which I will be avoiding.

Of course Heidi MacDonald knew who you were. You’re world-famous now.

Aww, Kelly! This is beautiful! I almost wish DDLL was more than twice a year! I’ve always longed for that immediate connection to other (lady) cartoonists, which sadly doesn’t happen very often here in Scranton, or even Jersey for that matter. I’m looking forward to next year, I was so completely inspired by the whole thing (MoCCA, too) that I came home and thought of hundreds (well, not really hundreds) of new ideas for mini comics, long term comics and so on. Now all I need to find is the time.

Thanks for the nods, too :) Paul will be excited!!

Fun write up! I love the friendly enthusiasm that has been the guide for everything about DDLL. I had a great time there.

[...] And of course, Kelly Thompson of 1979 Semi-Finalist was there, a good friend who I finally got to meet face-to-face. She also wrote a wonderful article on the whole shindig! You can read it here. [...]

Cool. I don’t have a problem with private parties. Some times you want a specific group for a specific reason. No big. And I think its great that women are reaching out to each other and helping each other get into the biz. Think more girls is a good thing.

Doesn’t stop me from wanting to get in that party though. I have long hair. I could totally pass for a chick…

LOL Daniel….good one….and hell I can tell you while back issue hunting on Tuesdays at comic shops in Manhattan and Brooklyn that the female comic buyer’s influence has been growing. I don’t really care if some of them are picking up only Manga. The best way to expose them to comics is to be in the shops. And the more female creators and events like this that get shown, the more “nerdy male” stereotypes get broken…

Tom Fitzpatrick

April 13, 2010 at 5:28 am

As long as you had a good time and enjoyed yourself, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with going out into the nitty gritty depressingly bleak dangerously paranoid and morally blank world. ;-)

us recluses gotta snuggle together!

Titties, people; say it with me- -TITTIES.

Forgot to respond to this: “You should totally come next time…you would be absolutely welcome…there were all sorts of women loosely tied to the industry, and some friends into comics and hoping to work in them brought friends that they were trying to introduce to comics.”

Thanks! I’ll keep a look-out for the next one.

Tom Fitzpatrick

April 13, 2010 at 10:43 am

@azjohnson5:

Kind sir! There IS more to women than their breasts.

…..

But right now, I can’t think of anything. ;-)

tee-hee

@Daryll: Its great to hear that more girls are showing up at the comic shop where you’re from.

I live in a small town in East Texas with only one comic shop. Though, when I worked at a bookstore for a while I did see a fair number of girls over in the manga section. Which is just fine. This was several months ago so at the time I tried to recommend Batwoman and Fables as much as possible to them. I’m not sure it worked… but I was doing my part!

I’ve been looking through the archives of your blog, Kelly, and was unlucky enough to come across this one. In a few short paragraphs, you highlighted every reason why I’m ashamed to call myself a comic book fan.

Basically, people like yourself and others here in the forums are always demanding diversity, making topics about featuring more female characters in comics and other races … yet normally, their opinions are overly critical and the word “sexist” is thrown around to the point where it becomes meaningless and undermines actual sexism. Much like the “Drink & Draw Like A Lady” event. To read about this event practically made me lose faith in humanity (my faith in comic readers was already hanging by a thread). I was already annoyed by the focus given to women in comics after “The Women Of Marvel Speak” panel at NYCC — a panel that always makes me roll my eyes at the ignorant casual sexism against men thrown around — and Kelly Sue DeConnick made apathetic comments about men working in comic books and thinking they weren’t deserving of the same welcome as women and trotted out the tired double standard of “women can be objectified, men can’t” in comic books. But D&DLAL took it to a whole new level.

Trying to justify the sexism of not allowing men to join this event by saying “the message would be lost if men were there” is stupid and ridiculous. Having men turned away at the door is, frankly, sick. Tell you what; if someone was to throw an event that excluded black people, would you be saying the same thing? Maybe next year, someone can just put a “No Penises Allowed” sign up on the door and you could joyously write a blog after the fact about how the men present at the comic book store OBVIOUSLY were so horny that all they could think about was invading the comic book store to get off with women. Because that’s what guys do, right Kelly?

You might’ve been right about the title of this blog: “Female Positivity In Spades” … but as usual, directing negativity towards the males is standard practice. But it’s comic books so who cares, right? A place where the straight white male is practically a leper.

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