Cartoonist and writer Kate Charlesworth has recently released her graphic memoir, Sensible Footwear: A Girl’s Guide. Charlesworth has been illustrating and creating comics since the 1970s and more recently collaborated with Mary and Bryan Talbot on the graphic novel Sally Heathcote: Suffragette. Luke Turner is a music journalist and writer and co-founder of the music website The Quietus. Out of The Woods is his new memoir which looks at sexuality, nature and faith. Both writers are at the Edinburgh International Book Festival this evening to discuss their new releases in an event chaired by crime writer, Val McDermid.
When asked about Sensible Footwear: A Girl’s Guide, Charlesworth explains that: “It was an accidental memoir. I wanted to do a LGBTQIA+ history including drag queens, dykes etc, but this would have been too much. I decided to narrow it down to my lifespan. I decided to use memoir as a thread and set that against the bits of LGBT history I could remember.” Thus, the book combines elements of LGBT history with her own memories since the 1950’s. It includes key events in queer history and profiles people such as Alan Turing and Sir John Gielgud. The visual style varies throughout and the creator states that this was always her intention as a method of expressing different periods of history. This format in not common in graphic novels and comics books, but the author states says: “My book, my rules!” This rule breaking is to the benefit of the book.
Out of The Woods on the other hand presents the memoir in less illustrative ways, but its approach is just as subversive. Turner talks about the influence of writer, artist and film director Derek Jarman, and the honest and insightful diaries he wrote towards the end of his life. Modern Nature in particular is a telling inspiration for Out of The Woods, as it combines nature writing and queer representation. Turner tells the audience: “There is a lot of compulsion in the book. I wanted to write a social history of Epping Forest and a working class campaign to save the forest. But in order to tell this story honestly I had to put everything in, including my sexuality.” He goes onto mention bisexuality and how this is often overlooked in the LGBT community: “As bisexual men we are not always seen as part of the community, but with this book, I wanted to show that we are part of it.” This gives the book an interesting perspective and one which makes Out of The Woods feel like a fresh and inventive approach to the memoir format.
Kate Charlesworth and Luke Turner have given two different perspectives on queer identity in their personal and creative books.