Interview with Alisha Jade, founder of Women in Aus Comics
by Anthony N. Castle
Alisha Jade wants to shout. And it’s her voice that has distinguished her as more than just a gifted comics creator. Apart from publishing her major title Seven, and numerous minicomics, Jade’s recently spoken at the National Young Writers Festival, ran creative workshops and was the driving force behind MiniComicCon while managing to win a Platinum Ledger award earlier this year. Hailing from Brisbane, Jade’s become a maven for local female creators and recently launched womeninauscomics.com to help promote comickers across the nation. With the site now up and running, we caught up with Alisha Jade to talk, and perhaps shout, about the initiative…
At a time when issues of gender and misogyny have been at the fore of the pop culture fray, what gave rise to the Women in Aus Comics project?
Women in Aus Comics came about as an extension of a list I’d been curating for some time, first on Tumblr then on my own website, of women creating comics locally – but I felt that it really needed its own space where I could link all sorts of cool things, reviews, events that were coming up, and anything else that fit. I’m still very much running my own work separately and I didn’t want the two to smudge into one confused pile. The response has been really positive – it’s been linked as a resource by Women in Literary Arts Australia which is really exciting and I’m finding more names to add to the list all the time!
The site really serves as a kind of hub for information and news – I didn’t want it to just be a list or a bunch of links with nothing to give any context. I also want to link and explore almost everything I can find related to news or events – I’m hoping that the more I can promote, the more others will join in. I’ve found promoting is one of the things local ladies can really lag behind on- There are lots of studies on it, ‘tis a womanly thing- so anything I can do to change that, bring it on.
Does the platform cater solely to creators, or are academics and reviewers also in the mix?
I’d love it to be a platform for anything that relates to work being created by local women – a couple of the pieces on there now are either interviews done by others or a write up on a launch, for example. I’m interested in any related content. So much is happening all over the place but unless you know where to look right now it’s tricky to find.
In a traditionally male-dominated field, where do you see Women in Aus Comics at work in a growing community of creators and readers?
I see us taking over and slowly reducing the mens to household domestication status. Seriously though, I don’t so much see Women in Aus Comics fitting into a specifically female space, creator or reader. I see it as a hub for all kinds of people who may previously have had varying levels of interest and access to local women creating comics no matter what their background, exposure to comics or gender. Publicity and promotion, and an easy access to links everywhere idea, is really all I’m doing, and that’s within a broad literary space, not just the space we tend to think of as comics. No one in comics really seems to want to talk about it, but the biggest comics lately have really been outside ‘comics’ and in the literary books sphere. Take Raina Telgemeier as an example – as of today she has three of her comics- labelled graphic novels but you know, semantics- on the New York Times Best Sellers List, including Smile, which has been there 158 weeks and has over 1.5 million copies in print. It baffles me that so few people are sitting up and taking notice. We’re a part of a literary community, not just comics.
So what’s in store for the future of Women in Aus Comics?
In the future I want to be able to use the platform to promote everyone even further – I was recently part of a ladies in comics panel at Sydney Supanova and to my knowledge it’s the first we’ve really had at a major comics event – usually there’s only perhaps one lady at most on panels at those sort of events and it’s really quite unacceptable when there are dozens of women manning comics tables on the con floor. I want to shout, ‘we are here! We are here! We are here!’ and at some point soon, if it hasn’t already really started, no one will be able to avoid the explosion of talent coming from the women in this country anymore. I don’t see myself as a spokesperson – no one asked me to put any of this together and it would be a bit presumptive for me to think I’m representative of the community. Maybe at some point I could be, but that isn’t something I’d nominate myself for. There are growing numbers of girls and women really coming into their own in comics and I want there to be a support base for them, link and promote their work, their launches, their interviews, their new work…
For more, check out womeninauscomics.com
And for more Alisha Jade’s work, check out http://www.ohmycomics.com/