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New exhibition proves comics are not just for teenage boys

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Unfortunately there is still something of a stigma attached to grown men and women reading comic books. Personally I take umbrage with the assumption that all comic books are trite super hero stories as some of my favourite comics are anything but. Indeed, some of the most forward-thinking, emotionally charged stories Iv'e read in recent years originated in comic books, and many of those stories were either written or drawn (literally in this case of course) by women. Indeed, from their early incarnations as sequential satires and newspaper strips to today's countercultural zines, webcomics and award-winning graphic novels, women have been present throughout this evolution, creating some of the most defining and provocative works of the medium.

Comix Creatrix will present original work from 100 women comic creators at London’s House of Illustration in Granary Sqaure

With Marvel currently dominating box offices worldwide with a bevy of strong female characters, and anti-hero Jessica Jones making waves on the small screen, the timing couldn’t be better for an exhibition of women comic artists from around the world. Comix Creatrix will present original work from 100 women comic creators at London’s House of Illustration, with the underlying theme being one of diversity. Faudet-Harrison is designing the exhibit, with the consultancy intending to reflect the theme in the overall aesthetic. The exhibition will be arranged by subject matter, showcasing everything from historical comics to humorous satire and surreal one-shot magazines. Even Tove Jansson’s immortal Moomins (otherwise known as those cartoon hippos you loved when you were 10) will be making an appearance.

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House of Illustration curator Olivia Ahmad, says that although some pieces (such as Kripa Joshi’s Miss Moti comic) will feature women characters and gender issues, some will not. This is a deliberate move to show that not all women make comics intended just for other women. Ahmad said: “Women don’t do a certain type of comic and women don’t do comics just for women. I hope the show will prompt discussion about the medium and about women’s role in it.” She adds that there is growing interest in researching the forgotten women of the past, and that it is “Important to include the comic pioneers; women who were doing really great work in the medium from very early on.”

Faudet-Harrison is designing the exhibit, with the consultancy intending to reflect the theme of diversity in the overall aesthetic

Indeed, to this end, although most of the work is from the last 15 years or so, the show will also give historical context. The earliest work dates back to 1775, with a piece by Mary Darly, who ran a print shop in the 18th century and is thought to have developed the first book on how to draw caricatures. The show will contain two to three pieces from each artist, ranging from original ink drawings, to collage, to entirely digital works. The work stretches across genres and generations; from the 1800s to the present day; from observational comedy to surreal fantasy, challenging biography to subversive dissent.

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On the other end of the spectrum is 19-year-old Texas cartoonist Tillie Walden, who is one artist that steers clear of working digitally, preferring to use pencil and ink. A few pages from her first book, “End of Summer,” will be on display. End of Summer tells the story of twins Lars and Maja as they settle into their castle home for the winter. Walden said: “My work tends to be very dreamlike and have a lot of magical elements to it, but ultimately my stories are very grounded in the trauma of just being a person in the real world.”

There will be original artworks from graphic novels, comics and magazines, many of which will be seen in public for the very first time

There will be original artworks from graphic novels, comics and magazines, many of which will be seen in public for the very first time. It will feature work from acclaimed titles such as Nina Bunjevac’s “Fatherland” and Isabel Greenberg’s “Encyclopaedia of Early Earth,” as well as self-published sensations like Nadine Redlich’s “Ambient Comics” and many more, such as Marie Duval, Tove Jansson, Posy Simmonds, Audrey Niffenegger and Nina Bunjevac. Comix Creatrix: 100 Women Making Comics is the UK's largest ever exhibition of leading female comic artists, and opens on 5 February 2016 at the House of Illustration, 2 Granary Square, London N1.

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Benjamin Hiorns is a freelance writer and struggling musician from Kidderminster in the UK. His favourite female comic artist is Fiona Staples of the absolutely flawless Saga series. If you're not reading it then we can't be friends.

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