I have always said I think comics are a place to shine a light on political issues and one of the most important issues of the moment is pro-choice debate and the movement to repeal the 8th amendment. Karen Harte and Jessica Maybury have brought together a bunch of talented creators to produce an anthology to highlight the issue. I asked them about putting the book together.
What inspired you to put together the anthology?
Karen Harte: In late 2015 I was reading through a comics anthology called ‘The BigFeminist But‘ and I thought, how great it would be to see a comics/art anthology about the Irish perspective on abortion rights and the repeal the 8th movement. I am really passionate about this subject and wanted to find a way to incorporate it into my work and collaborate with others. Jessica Maybury (then editor of Girls Like Comics) got in touch to see if anyone had an ideas for 2016 projects and I told her about it, she was really interested in helping out with it and we started to get to work!
Jessica Maybury: Repealing the 8th is a big cause close to both of our hearts, and while Karen and I kind of knew each other from ESC zine and then Girls Like Comics, we’d never met before. I was thrilled when Karen approached me about the project, and so we went from there.
Considering the topic is so important to many people, did that put any pressure on you?
K: I have been representing my social and political beliefs in my own artwork more of late and I am really inspired when I see people’s personal stories, passions and beliefs shine through their work. My intention was to create a collection of personal insights from creators and artists about what it meant to them – so I didn’t feel the pressure per se as I knew there was going to be a wide variety of styles/interpretations and I guess that is the point. There was pressure to just get the word out there that we were looking for submissions, and I was really afraid no one would submit anything!
J: It did a bit! I think that we just wanted to do our best to make something *awesome* and so everything got stressful around the time of printing, with proofs flying back and forth. I wasn’t sure of the response this project would get, and was overwhelmed with how good it was. Everyone just wants to see this project succeed, and for it to mean something and make an impact, and so yeah, there was definitely some pressure there. Hopefully the launch goes well!
I think the creators handled the topic very well. Were you anxious about how the submissions would treat it?
K: I remember the first pieces we received, I was so moved by the different, unique interpretations on the subject. Everyone had their own way of telling their story and depicting their stance and that’s what I loved about this project the most…seeing all of the different perspectives on such a stigmatized and historically silent issue. Then there was an explosion of Repeal the 8th projects last year, with the Repeal project jumpers, The X-ileproject, the Maser piece on the Project Arts Theatre, the Hunreal Issues and Will St Leger’s work to name a few, it felt like it was there was a huge art movement building behind the campaign.
J: I think the creators handled the topic very well. I was a little bit anxious about how the submissions would treat it – there had been some comments on a broadsheet article deriding the anthology before it was even made, but to be honest, that kind of thing was really in the minority. Any response I’d gotten from the Irish comics community and Irish artists and illustrators in general had been serious and measured, and so that was the tone of the artwork I was expecting.
Can you tell us a little about the process of putting the book together? You funded it through Kickstarter. That is a project in itself.
K: I had never been involved in a Kickstarter campaign so it was great to chat to Jessica about it and she had some insights from her previous projects.
From the start I had designed an identity so we could have something to put up on social media channels, we didn’t have a website so we relied on Facebook and Twitter for this project.
For the kickstarter campaign, I created a short video – I used some of the artwork and a brilliant track by Irish band Fierce Mild which set the right tone. We even got onto KS’s ‘Projects We Love’ spot which I think really helped! Then it was just a case of pushing it on social media….it was such a relief when we reached our target!
In the end we had 179 backers from Ireland, UK, France, Spain, Sweden, Australia, Germany, Italy, Holland, South Africa, US, Switzerland, Mexico, Singapore – it was unbelievable! I compiled the anthology as the artwork came in and designed the book, as well as the rewards like our totes/stickers/badges etc. We used the wonderful artwork from our contributors on postcards and A4 prints.
Once everything was designed then there was the printing, packaging and posting of the rewards which had to happen in Ireland so, as Jessica is based in Belgium, this was something I had to do alone, so I would advise anyone planning a project like this, enlist help! As much as you can J My partner Colin was a massive help to me during this process and helped with the huge run to the post office. Now I’m organising the launch night with massive help from my sister Sarah and friends Natasha and Cathy who are being absolute legends and helping with organising bands and promotion!
J: As I said before, Karen and I haven’t even met in person yet! I live in Belgium, so we were emailing and skyping back and forth through the time zone, trying to get everything organised. I’d run a few Kickstarters before, so I knew what to watch out for (things like shipping costs, and just the amount of time it takes to actually fulfil everyone’s rewards and print the book itself) so I knew the project wouldn’t be done in two weeks. We’ve been at this a year now, and our plans are finally coming to fruition. I’m looking forward to meeting Karen at last at the launch!
You’re having a launch in March. What’s the plan for that? I assume people can buy the book/merchandise there?
Yep, there’s loads planned for the launch and you can buy the book and merch there on the night! It will take place in the Workmans, Dublin, on March 7th at 8pm, the eve of International Women’s Day, with a line-up of speakers and performances including:
Actor and writer, TARA FLYNN, who contributed the foreword to MINE.
Writer SARAH MARIA GRIFFIN, who will recite her poem ‘We Face This Land’ (featured in the anthology).
Abortion Rights Campaign spokesperson, LINDA KAVANAGH.
Bands Mongoose and Æ MAK will be playing! Entrance is €8 per person (€5 for students/unwaged), the book will be on sale on the night alongside other merchandise, and ALL PROCEEDS will be going to the Abortion Rights Campaign.
Irish/Depression sufferer/Geek/gaytheist/Whovian/Follower of Dylan. The Boss.