Friday, February 24, 2006
No more Dykes on PlanetOut
I just got the news that PlanetOut, currently the only source for Dykes online, is dropping the strip. I don't know why. I assume it's some sort of fallout from their acquisition last fall of LPI media, which has made them the “World's Largest Gay Media Company.” I'm surprised. I thought I got pretty decent traffic. I've been thinking for a while now about hosting the strip on my own site, and I guess the time has come. I'll keep you posted as I figure out how I'm going to go about this. And I'd love to hear any suggestions anyone has, particularly about ways to cover the cost.
Monday, February 13, 2006
Ah, it's good to be back in the States. If those pansy Brits had a vice president, I doubt that he'd ever have shot anyone.
My erstwhile assistant Cathy Resmer and her partner just had their baby! Astonishing. Um...guess maybe it's time to take Cathy's name off the blog, now that she has better things to do.
Saturday, February 11, 2006
My “associate fellowship scheme” at the University of Kent’s Centre for Law, Gender, and Sexuality is over, and I’m heading back to the States. It did feel like a scheme, as if I was impersonating someone who knew what they were talking about. My favorite part of the experience was getting my own office for a week. I never get to go to an office, or have colleagues. It was a novel sensation. Academics would drop by and ask if they could take me for a cup of tea. (I think I may have tea-poisoning.) They would want to discuss things like the auto-immunity of democracy, or the sociology of risk, or discrimination within the queer anti-discrimination movement, or whether constitutionality is law or politics. I sipped my tea. Here I am teaching a cartooning workshop to some legal scholars. That’s Emily Grabham on the right, who made the whole Scheme happen. And in London last week, I took part in a roundtable discussion with UK cartoonists Kate Evans, Kate Charlesworth, and Suzy Varty, moderated by Carol Bennett, who has run the comics distributor Knockabout for over 20 years. This was jointly presented by the Kent Centre and the Cartoon Museum Trust. I got a tour of the Cartoon Museum, which is frantically under construction and set to open later this month in a great space near the British Museum. Along with their permanent collection, which includes comic art from Hogarth and Cruikshank to superhero stuff, they’ll have a shop and gallery and classes. Amid the chaos of workers putting up sheetrock and wiring, cartoonists were working on a mural. Here's Martin Rowson recreating a famous old British cartoon by James Gillray about William Pitt and Napoleon carving up the world like a plum pudding. Above this is a cartoon of Bush as Adam, with Tony Blair as his figleaf.
Friday, February 10, 2006
The Danish Cartoon Row
I’m still in the UK, where it’s been a very exciting time for cartoons. I don’t know how much play this story has gotten in the US, but it’s been in the headlines here for over a week. Muslims all over the world have been protesting a series of cartoons about Mohammed published by a Danish newspaper. It’s all very complicated, and if you want the whole story, the Guardian has a comprehensive special report The gist is that the cartoons were commissioned as part of a debate about freedom of speech in a climate where the press has felt a certain amount of fear and self-censorship around critiquing Islam. In 2004, a Dutch filmmaker who’d just made a film about violence against women in Islamic culture was murdered by a fanatic, and it’s had a predictably chilling effect on discourse. The cartoons were actually published last September, but it took a while for the protests to build up steam. First the newspaper refused to apologize, then the government stepped in and apologized after Muslims called for boycotts of Danish products. It escalated last week with increasingly violent protests from Europe to Iraq to Indonesia. Danish embassies have been set on fire, and yesterday four demonstrators were killed in Afghanistan. But there’s some question about whether the cartoons were deliberately provocative, or an earnest effort at opening a dialogue. No one was reprinting them, for obvious reasons, so it took me a while to see what the fuss was all about. Then the Guardian posted this link to them on Wikipedia. Some are tame, some are offensive, most are mediocre. but part of the problem is that in Islam, you’re not supposed to show ANY visual images of the prophet. So negative images are exponentially offensive. Ted Rall has a good column about the ensuing diplomatic crisis on the Common Dreams site. He quotes a Kuwaiti oil executive who says, “America kills thousands of Muslims, and you lose your head and withdraw ambassadors over a bunch of cartoons printed in a second-rate paper in a Nordic country with a population of five million? That’s the true outrage.”
Friday, February 03, 2006
The Night Watch
Last night I went to the launch party for Sarah Waters’ new book, The Night Watch. Yes, strictly speaking, that has nothing to do with my comic strip. But it has something to do with lesbian culture, so I don’t think I’m going too far afield to mention it here. It was cool to see ads for the book in the Tube. The novel takes place during and just after World War Two, so the launch was a costume party, “forties attire optional.” People wore amazing things. Old WAC and RAF uniforms, vintage dresses and suits and hats. Sarah’s book is stunning, even more gripping, in my most humble opinion, than Tipping the Velvet, Affinity, or Fingersmith, which is saying quite a lot. You should read it as soon as possible. This is my girlfriend Amy Rubin with Sarah Waters and our pal Helen Sandler. These women were kids during the war, and advised Sarah as she was writing the book. This is my girlfriend, me, and our friend Jane Hoy, looking very queenlike. The book launch was held in the Cabinet War Rooms at the Churchill Museum in London, the nerve center from which Churchill directed the war. That's why there are all those important looking gauges and levers and things in the background.
London in black and white
The south side of St. Paul’s is being repaired, so they’ve got this massive tarp up that’s printed with an antique drawing or etching of the building, for a sort of trompe l’oeil effect. It’s weirdly cartoony. Here’s a self-portrait I took of me looking at a Franz Kline painting in the Tate Modern, before I was accosted by a guard and told to stop taking photographs. I’ve never been big on painting, but I love Franz Kline’s black-on-white stuff because it looks like ink on paper. There’s an installation up in the Tate Modern’s vast turbine hall called “Embankment.” It’s stacks and stacks of these translucent plastic boxes. That’s me on the left looking up at the biggest pile.
Wednesday, February 01, 2006
My Morning at the BBC
I've had quite a busy day in Londontown. It began with an interview on the Woman's Hour on BBC Radio 4. I didn't know what a fancy important show this was until after it was over. I was on for about five minutes, between the director of that film about the women iron range workers, North Country, and a lovely woman who'd just written a novel about chronic fatigue syndrome. They made me draw a cartoon about my BBC experience for their website (click 'photo gallery'). You can also listen to the very brief interview there. I did a lot of other exciting, blogworthy things today but I'm too tired to write about them now. It's time for bed.