This summer, hundreds of comics have been organized and cataloged in the University of Dundee Archives and the University Museum Services has acquired more original comic art for their collection. Comics and Illustration students have been flocking to the Archives and Museum Services to view the comics, scripts, and comic art housed in these facilities for inspiration.
A comic titled “Archive Anthology” is underway in a collaborative effort between the Archives, Museum Services and the Comics department. The aim of the anthology is to promote the University’s vast comics collections. In order to do so, a team of writers and artists has been assembled to create original work for the Anthology. The work will be inspired by or tell the story of the archived materials. The Anthology is set to launch in October at the Festival of the Future. Watch this space for more information!
To view the comics in the Archive, click here for the Archive Catalog.
To view the comic artwork, click here for the Museum Services Catalog.
The Scottish Centre for Comics Studies (SCCS), based at the University of Dundee, exists to bring together researchers, teachers, students, archivists, artists and writers, and industry professionals to promote a greater understanding and appreciation of the medium and its history.
The city of Dundee has a long association with comics. Dundee is one of the great powerhouses of comics production, not just in the UK, but internationally. The publisher DC Thomson is at the heart of the city, with its long history of comics production. The University of Dundee is a pioneer in the teaching of Comics Studies, with modules on comics at Undergraduate level in the School of Humanities and in Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, and the UK’s first MLitt in Comics Studies, launched in September 2011. With dedicated exhibition space at the University of Dundee, and a commitment to building the resources required to expand the provision of this field, the SCCS hosts conferences, workshops, lectures and exhibitions intended to raise the profile of comics in Scotland.
Comic students graduated from the University of Dundee have successfully funded their graphic novel Nasty Girls through a Kickstarter campaign. Erin Keepers wrote the comic while Catriona Laird did the art and Gaby Epstein added the colour. Below is an interview with Erin Keepers and Catriona Laird about their comic and the campaign. You can pre-order the comic here.
SCCS: Could you tell us a bit about yourselves? Where you’re from, your background in comics, etc.?
Catriona Laird: I’ve always lived over the river from Dundee and with my Dad working at D.C. Thompson comics have always been in my life in some way or form. I started making my own comics for myself and friends very young and continued all through my teen years but it only really occurred to me I could really do it for work in my 20s. That was after I had already done two years of Forensic Science at Abertay University and realised I was on the completely wrong career track for myself. I graduated from DJCAD in 2016 and started making my own indie comics in Ink Pot studio and helping DCCS shortly after graduation.
Erin Keepers: I’m a comics writer from the United States. I got my Masters in Comic Book Studies at the University of Dundee in Scotland. Before that, I studied film at California State University of Los Angeles. Other comics I’ve written are ‘Cosmic’ with Letty Wilson, published by Panels, and ‘Minus Inertia’ with Norrie Millar, published in volumes 29 and 30 of Aces Weekly (http://www.acesweekly.co.uk/).
SCCS: How did this project come together? How long did it take from conception to printed graphic novel?
CL: I was first contacted about the project by George Lennox back in February this year. We had come into contact with one another through another project but when he mentioned this entirely new concept and he wanted to explore and find the right voices to tell it I was really excited about being involved. George had already spoken to Erin about it before getting in touch with me but I knew Erin’s work through other people in the studio working with her. All in all it’s taken us about 9 months to get to this point, finishing the kickstarter and we still have a little more work to do so it’ll probably be about a full year of working on issue 1 when we can finally be satisfied.
EK: George Lennox, our editor/publisher over at Cult Empire Comics, approached me with the idea of ‘Nasty Girls’ back in February, but I’m pretty sure Catriona was already part of the project by then. The three of us spent a long time talking plot, world-building, and representation before anything was ever really written. I don’t think I actually started on the script until April and then George and I were working on edits until well into July. Catriona would be able to tell you about how long the art process from thumbnails to ink to color has been, but it’s definitely been a labor-intensive process! We’re only just now starting to get pages lettered, but I believe the plan is still to have the book ready to go to print in October.
SCCS: What is the premise of Nasty Girls?
CL: Nasty Girls is a story about 5 girls who are trying hard to get across a message against a world that tries to force them into boxes through their band’s music. Unfortunately their music isn’t being heard by the right people and it’s quite crushing for them to feel they aren’t making a difference. Eventually it gets to a point where they decide to take direct action against those who actively hurt people like themselves and it throws them into the limelight in more ways than one.
EK: It’s about a rock band, made up of young adult women, who are tired of feeling marginalized by society and the media and are ready to do something about it. They decide to fight back against toxic masculinity and the patriarchy with their music and, sometimes, with their fists.
SCCS: What inspired your story/art?
CL: For this project I’ve been inspired by creators like Jen Bartel and Irene Koh, both artistically and just through their attitudes towards the current comics landscape and supporting diversity. I’m also a big fan of Petra Nordlund’s comics and have been for years, I absolutely adore every character she makes and her variety of expressions and gestures are thoroughly entertaining. There are plenty of other big names that influence my work but no small part has been played by my friends and people I talk to on a daily basis, all making comics and characters and helping me bounce ideas around to develop my skills.
EK: A lot of my inspiration came from looking at the current political climate, the way women are portrayed in the media, and my complete emotional fatigue from perpetually explaining what is and isn’t feminism to people. George actually pitched the initial idea to me as “girl rock band fight club” which I heard as “hardcore rock’n’roll ladies fight back against the patriarchy” and the idea evolved from there.
SCCS: You were fully funded on kickstarter, congrats! What do you think helped you accomplish that?
CL: Thank you! I think it was really important to gather people in one place and really prepare them in advance for the campaign, the facebook page really allowed us do that and keep people updated. We were also fortunate to become a “project we love” from kickstarter itself which attracted some attention. It was just very important to keep ourselves in people’s minds and sometimes that just involves consistent social media posting multiple times a day. I also think having music to go along with the comic played a big part, it made the story very real to people. Huge thank you to Jennifer Vito and Erin for putting it together.
EK: It all comes down to our amazing supporters. We have so many people who want this project to come together and succeed and that’s really powerful. It also helps that this is the right time for a project like this. We’ve really tapped into something that a lot of people can relate to.
SCCS: Your graphic novel has a mix of new talent as well as some big names. How did that come together?
CL: It was really important to me personally to boost people I know and love this project because I knew it would have a wide reach so the more I could give back to people who’ve supported me in the past the better. I contacted Alice Carnegie who I met at university to do a piece for a stretch goal because her artwork is in stark contrast to my own and her Girl Gang works she’s produced were perfect for the Nasty Girls vibe we were going for. Gary Erskine was also contacted for the variant cover, again because his previous work ties in with what we’re going for and we knew he’d do a great job of translating our girls into his style.
EK: George is the one who pulled us all together–one of the great things about working with a publisher! His goal has always been to find the right people for this project, people who really care about the message, and he’s done that.
SCCS: Where can someone who missed the Kickstarter get their hands on a copy of Nasty Girls?
CL: When the comic is printed people can get into contact with myself, Erin or Cult Empire Comics to get hold of a copy if they missed out. I would suggest keeping in touch with the Nasty Girls facebook page for future updates on how to get a hold of a copy and for announcements on future issues.
EK: People can still preorder the comic at Cult Empire Comic’s website (https://tictail.com/cultempirecomics). Once it’s been published, it will be available for sale online and at various comic cons at the Cult Empire booth. For which cons specifically and other updates, you can follow Nasty Girls or Cult Empire Comics on Facebook.
SCCS:Is there anything you’d like to add?
CL: I really hope people will enjoy the story when they get to read it, it’s been one of my favourite projects to work on in all my career and a story I think needs told. A huge thank you to Erin and George of course but especially to Gaby Epstein who’s been colouring my inks, she’s done an incredible job and her colour palettes have opened my eyes to new things I can do with my work!