ENTERTAINMENT

GRAPHIC Festival: These Artists Are Pushing For Diversity In Comics

More women in comics. Anddddd repeat.

26/10/2016 1:16 PM AEDT | Updated 26/10/2016 1:17 PM AEDT
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A girl draws during the 'Kyiv Comic Con' festival.

Not dissimilar to the female superheroes that inspire their creations, women in the comic world have long been underrepresented and simply a background character.

It's something Brisbane-based artist Alisha Jade noticed early on when she began showcasing her work at local events, later inspiring her to launch "The Banksia Project" an initiative that provides mentorship and opportunities for women in the Australian comic book scene.

"I'd have women and girls come up to me after an event asking to show me their work and telling me they had no idea such a platform for comic artists existed," Jade told The Huffington Post Australia.

Visibility for female artists is one of the greatest challenges in the local creative sphere which isn't exactly helped by the highly concentrated male presence at such industry events.

Alisha Jade

Recent figures suggest women aged 17-33 are the fastest-growing demographic of comic book readership but the culture that surrounds the industry, in Australia at least, fails to celebrate that.

"I want to encourage other local women and let them know that there are opportunities and it doesn't have to be this way," Jade said.

Jade together with Sarah Howell from Melbourne's Squishface Studio will make up part of the State of the Nation panel during Sydney's GRAPHIC Festival next month, an opportunity they hope will encourage more female artists to get involved.

"We want to increase visibility not only for us as individual creators, but for Australians as a whole because what we've noticed is that people don't realise this is actually something you can easily support or get involved with," Jade said.

Sarah Howell

Another topic they will cover is resilience.

"If you're a political cartoonist or making comics that touch on big issues like the refugee policy for example, it's going to take a lot of research and often it means becoming involved with the darker side of politics," Howell told HuffPost Australia.

"Yes pushing visibility is important, but looking after yourself and your mental health is also important. It's often something that is forgotten and I've personally seen what effect that can have on an artist."

Alisha Jade

GRAPHIC Festival with special guest "The Simpsons" creator, Matt Groening, kicks off November 4.

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