Cinders McLeod – writer, satirist, artist, doublebassist and creator of the Moneybunnies series, financial literary for kids – drew a cartoon in 1991 in response to the oft-asked question “why are there no women cartoonists?”
20 year later, in 2011, she looked at it and thought it should be out there and posted it on YouTube. “Some things have changed. A lot hasn’t. and it’s not just women cartoonists I’m talking about”, she notes.
My thanks to cartoonist Lorna Miller for the lead on this during discussion on Twitter about the lack of female political cartoonists in British newspapers, who also asked if any research has been done on employment rates within the industry. As Sandra Marrs of Metaphrog noted in the thread, “Very few make a living making comics, period, let alone women. But would be interesting to know the numbers,” so hopefully this is something others drawn into the chat – Laydeez Do Comics founder Nicola Streeten and Comics Laureate Hannah Berry among them – has joined the discussion, as Lorna notes her appalling treatment by one magazine she had worked for.
“I was dropped after 15 years digital colourist on well known kids mag,” she says. “New editor used recession cut backs as excuse, handed over some of my work to his mates, who copied the colour schemes I’d created, the rest became the artist’s job (for no extra pay).”
The discussion wasn’t totally gloomy – the work of ELCAF, the Lakes International Comc Art Festival and Thought Bubble promoting women creators was noted, as was the presence of The Laydeez Do Comics Graphic Novel Competition for long form comics, and the work of publishers such as Myriad Editions and Unbound promoting the work of women creators. Not to mention exhibitions of work, such as the Posy Simmonds exhibition currently running at House of Illustration. (The work of Broken Frontier should be noted, too).
It was generally agreed that while progress has been made, there’s still much to be done. [There are] lots of women in comics now,” noted Metaphrog’s Sandra Marrs,” and it’s changed the types of comics that are out there. We were around 20 years ago with you too, and the comic scene now is massively different. Back then as a woman in comics I felt like the odd one out.”
Speaking personally, I was also grateful to find out about Cinders animated film and be reminded of the work of the cartons of Martha “Marf” Richler, as well as enjoying reading recent work by Lorna.
Born in Toronto, Cinders McLeod moved to Britain in 1979 and studied graphics in Somerset, art in a social context in Devon, and filmmaking in London. She wrote, sang and played doublebass in a two-woman band recorded on Billy Bragg’s label. In 1991, she moved to Scotland where she cartooned for the British Press and had two children. Her regular political cartoon strip, “Broomie Law“, was published in book form by Luath Press in 2000.
In 2001, she moved back to Canada and cartooned, animated, wrote, designed and art directed for the Globe and Mail. She is a recipient of a National Newspaper Award, a Gold Society of Newspaper Design award and a National Magazine Award finalist. In 2011, she began her daily blog, My Life as a Sketchbook: A Visual Autobiography.
In 2013 she left the Globe and Mail so she could focus on her own projects: I’m A Girl! and I’m a Boy! published by HarperCollins, available as Kindle books, a video called My Life as a Political Cartoon, a novel about her Scottish-Canadian great-great-grandmother and a series of children’s financial literacy books, Moneybunnies.
On her blog, she recently highlighted some definite similarities between a cartoon she drew in 1999 for the Glasgow Herald and a silkscreen produced by Banksy, challenging him for a response.