Variant issue 1    back to issue list


Lorna Miller - Witch
Sheelagh Sussman

Witch is an independently produced comic by Glasgow Based artist Lorna Miller: after the usual treatment by the old poops in the painting department of Glasgow School of Art, she found healthier inspiration in her gradual awareness of a network of women artists producing comics, particularly through the example of Canadian artist Julie Doucet's autobiographical work, and Witch is now in its third issue. Miller is part of the group centred around Parade (with Chris Watson, Yves Tanitoc, Marc Baines and Craig Conlon) which is not just a comic but also a support network, and she is also part of SCCAM a loose association of 100 or so comic makers. While the comic scene in Glasgow can still be caricatured as having a 'loveable' tendency towards the sci-fi male anorak, thick spectacles and a certain retention in and around the anus, it has nevertheless endured, and - perhaps for reasons particular to the status of the medium - it can encompass an independence of spirit, invention and international influence, a strand of which includes the American underground of the 60s and 70s: for those familiar with such comics one could describe Witch as a raw version of Raw and Parade a less Arcadian version of Arcade.
Is Witch a comic for girls in a male dominated arena? According to Miller most of the readership has been male. Girl's comics are understandably something of an influence, but an influence which takes into consideration that they were designed by men and express plainly stupid notions of what those men thought girls were after. Sorry guys but it looks like all the Bunty's dedicated propaganda about ponies, good deeds, ponies, healthy out-door pursuits and ponies was either wasted on the young Lorna or has festered into subversion in the pages of Witch and its all your fault. As I remember it, the cut-out-and-dress doll was never a large kilted hunk with a thick tallywhacker or an 'Elvis Fertility Doll' with an even thicker one. Even though it is practically a certainty that masturbatory aids would have boosted the Bunty's sales, the guys who wrote it just didn't want to take their chances in court. Witch is better described as a comic for adults, all you need is some loose change and a slightly twisted sense of humour.
Stylistically Witch subtly shifts in its approach to drawing, responding to the mood of the artist, generating an appropriate pace and atmosphere for the subject matter created: a situation strip on the sheer rat-bastard tedium of relationships is loose and spontaneous; while 'Jane' is a combination of Commando style graphic art as a background, with its ever so slightly emancipated 'heroine' incongruously superimposed both graphically and in her satirical response to what the hell is going on around her. Other different approaches feature reworkings of 50's representations of women, including uncomfortably salacious material from ostensibly innocent film annual biographies of 'starlets,' or lunatic advertisements for various things unmentionable in polite society, but deliciously poured over here. While the wholesome world of 'true love' is not exactly ignored as a theme, its treatment does - like the activities of certain insects - have the tendency to end in at least G.B.H. if not the decapitation of the male, and yet imbue the feeling that this is no sad loss to the world.
Above all Witch is very, very funny and comes highly recommended, sadly though, as with most small press productions it has encountered the usual reluctance from distributors, even from 'Comic Shops.' Miller is open to responses from readers: "even if people don't want the comic I'd still be interested in hearing from other women out there and finding out their views on what I'm doing."
Witch can be obtained from Hi-Tone Art & Design, 120 Sydney Street, North Gallowgate, Glasgow G31 1JF. Readers can obtain a list of other titles distributed from: Peter Pavement, Slab O' Concrete, PO Box 148, Hove, East Sussex, BN3 3DQ