Panel: Why are older women creating graphic memoirs?
An increasing number of older women are producing their first autobiographical graphic novels and collections of comic strips later in life, about experiences they had as younger women. This panel will be made up of artists: Lesley Fairfield, creator of Tyranny, 2010, her memoir of living with anorexia; Sandra Bell-Lundy, whose comics strip, Between Friends, launched in 1994, and whose collection of comic strips, Hello, Daughter, published in 2004, was inspired by her experience of infertility; Rosalind B. Penfold, creator of Dragonslippers, 2005, the memoir of her experience of domestic violence; and Nicola Streeten, creator of Billy, Me & You, 2011, a memoir of grief following the death of her child. The panel will be chaired by artist, curator and academic, Sarah Lightman, who will provide a historical overview and introduction to the discussion.A short presentation from each of the artists about their memoirs will focus on their motivation and expectations in creating the works and their responses to how the published works have been received around the world. All these works contribute valuable educative resources for use in provider/patient communication. Notably, the works are reaching a wider audience, beyond the traditional comics-reading demographic, including those who are reading them for the empathetic entertainment value. This broad impact presents the graphic novel form in a way that highlights the potential applications of its unique qualities. The panel will reflect on why this emergence is happening now and the implications of an increase in women creators, often autodidacts over 40 years old. Doubly breaking societal taboos: by making personal experience of pain and illness public, and challenging what Nancy K. Miller describes as ‘Female invisibility [that] is structured against exposure: the danger for women of making a spectacle of oneself’.