I honestly think that Rachel Fenton’s one of the coolest, most talented, and nicest people I’ve never met (I’m determined that, one day that’ll change). I’ve long been an admirer of her work (just look at what she did for Beautiful Words last year) and I really couldn’t be happier to have her back here today. She’s talking about something I’m super excited about – and not just because it’s about brilliant comics, or because it’s about brilliant comics written by women. It’s because the whole thing just drips with goodness – it’s the sort of thing that anyone and everyone should be excited about. It’s an excited thing. So, over to Rachel, who’ll explain things far better than me…
Nik, thank you so much for having me on your brilliant blog to talk about something incredibly dear to my heart: Three Words, an Anthology of Aotearoa/New Zealand Women’s Comics (Beatnik).
“A brilliant, collaborative, manifold project, Three Words features all kinds of comics from all kinds of Kiwi women, a vast and varied representation of the beautiful diversity that makes up women’s comics in New Zealand – a completely unprecedented collection.” – Beatnik Publishing
Three Words grew out of a very real need to redress the gender imbalance in Aotearoa/New Zealand’s comics publications and events. Women comics creators weren’t being represented, leading to statements such as “there just aren’t any women comic artists in New Zealand”.
|‘NZ’ comics event/publication||Women featured|
|(2012) Aotearoa: Clouds from New Zealand (Treviso Comic Book Festival)||1/11||9%|
|(2012) Frankfurt Book Fair New Zealand as Guest of Honour (comics zone)||0/4||0%|
|(2012) New Zealand Comics and Graphic Novels (Hicksville Press)||10/65||15%|
|(2013) Nga Pakiwaituhi: New Zealand Comics (St Pauls Gallery)||3/32||9%|
|(2013) From Earth’s End: The Best of New Zealand Comics (Random House)||4/31||12%|
But Sarah Laing, Indira Neville – accomplished and long-standing comics creators – and me, knew that the literature didn’t represent the reality: many women have and are making comics in Aotearoa/New Zealand and we wanted to make them visible.
Word about Three Words spread fast on social media. Within a month of us putting out a call, we had over sixty submissions from women all over the country.
With comics by Adele Jackson, Alex McCrone, Alex Wild, Alice Tumblescribbleson, Alie Macpherson, Andra Jenkin, Bek Coogan, Anna Crichton, Beth Duckingmonster, Beth Sometimes, Carolyn Anderson, Celia Allison, Claire Harris, Dawn Tuffery, Demarnia Lloyd, Diane Rimmer, Elsie Joliffe, Emma Blackett, Erin Fae, Debra Boyask, Giselle Clarkson, Indira Neville, The Rabbid, Jem Yoshioka, Jessica Dew, Jessica Hansell, Joanna Anderson, Judy Darragh, Kayla Oliver, Kerry Ann Lee, Lauren Marriott, Margaret Silverwood, Olga Krause, Linda Lew, Lisa Noble, Liz Mathews, Loux McLellen, Lucy Meyle, Maiangi Waitai, Marina Williams, Mary Tamblyn, Mengzhu Fu, Mirranda Burton, Miriam Harris, Pritika Lal, Rachel Benefield, Rachel Shearer, Rae Joyce, Raewyn Alexander, Rebecca Hawkes, Renee Jones, Rosemary McLeod, Warsaw, Sally Bollinger, Sarah Laing, Sarah Lund, Sharon Murdoch, Sophie McMillan, Sophie Oiseau, Stella Corkery, Susan Rugg, Susan Te Kahurangi King, Suzanne Claessen and Zoe Colling.
As soon as the interview went live, there was a backlash from some of our male peers, who perhaps felt their power-hold on the scene slipping. But the support for Three Words was undeniable: we were invited to panel discussions by Wellington City Library , Auckland City Library and Auckland Zinefest; Hamilton Zinefest asked us to give a presentation; RAMP Gallery invited us to curate a Three Words exhibition; Stuff News interviewed us; and we’re running a Three Words workshop at Otago University as part of the Trans/forming Feminism Conference.
One of the most awesome consequences of Three Words has been the dialogue it’s opened up about the need for diversity in the comics industry; it’s given rise to debates about “competent boy comics” – comics that were previously deemed to be representative of all Aotearoa/New Zealand comics – and made space for alternative aesthetics and, crucially, given a platform to people who don’t fit the dominant profile of white middle-class male. It’s no longer OK for men to tell us “there just aren’t any women comic artists in New Zealand” – we know different. And, being the first all women comics anthology to be picked up by a publisher in Aotearoa/New Zealand’s history – thanks to the brilliant women at Beatnik Publishing – means our phenomenal women comics creators can no longer be denied.
But the most outstanding aspect of this project has been the community that it’s built. When we set up the Three Words Facebook group, women told us we had created a safe space for them to discuss comics – that’s a big deal. A bunch of the “competent boys” have even joined the group and are our staunch allies. Everyone has come together in support, on Facebook, Twitter @threeword3, Blogger – Aotearoa/New Zealand is talking Three Words. In short, we’re making history. We’d love you to pre-order a copy and be a part of it.
How good does that sound? You can, and probably should, PRE-ORDER your copy here.