Case Study

Archiving Grassroots Comics: The Radicality of Networks and Lesbian Community

By Margaret Galvan
November 2015

1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 In August 1980, lesbian visual artist Tee Corinne donated a yellow binder to the Lesbian Herstory Archives in New York City.1 This binder contained her research on contemporary lesbian comics artists for an article she had hoped to write on the subject. Inside was an impressive array of mid- to late-1970s comics clippings featuring lesbians, including extensive materials from four lesbian comics artists she was able to identify, all of whom were in their twenties but occupied very different publishing spaces: Roberta Gregory, Barba Kutzner, Tea Schook, and Mary Wings. More than simply collecting their work, Corinne corresponded with these women about their work, their influences, and their comics community, preserving their letters of response in the binder, as well. Corinne’s binder offers a window into how lesbians created spaces of connection textually. Moving through this opening anecdote, I will examine the emergence of the lesbian comics community that Corinne endeavors to create, asking why this phenomenon remains unremarked upon in scholarship and showing how recent archival collections richly supplement Corinne’s queer world-making.

2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 Corinne’s archival collection of radical material, stored inconspicuously alongside comic books on an upstairs bookshelf at the Lesbian Herstory Archives, illustrates how artists working within the hybrid, visual-textual form of comics struggled for recognition and legibility within their contemporary political movements. Earlier, Corinne had explored the thriving community of women working in underground comics in an article for a grassroots publication, Country Women, but these lesbian women worked individually within their own local feminist collectives.2 Despite the fact that these lesbian comics artists and other women working in the medium were trying to visually represent and theorize their feminist politics, the movement largely spurned comics. Corinne demonstrates this in her article, “Comics by Women,” by excerpting the rationale for why women’s bookstores refused to carry these works: “‘They are too dirty,’ ‘They are too violent,’ ‘They do not further the revolution,’ ‘They don’t uplift women’s ideals,’ etc. Or, as one East Coast Women’s Bookstore owner put it: ‘Women have better things to spend their money on than that trash.’”3

3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 In part because their works were reduced to “dirty,” “violent,” “trash,” these lesbian comics artists were unable to connect with each other through the movement they worked in. Kutzner, the least connected artist, lamented in her June 25, 1978, letter, “No, I don’t know of any other women cartoonists, much less lesbian cartoonists, other than the ones mentioned in your letter. I’d love to meet some, but as yet, have not.”4 Contrasting with this response of relative isolation, Gregory emphasizes networks of connection in her letter of April 10, 1978: “I’ve been printed lots of places, many of them regularly; such as Wimmen’s Comix, Cobblestone, Uncle Jam, Tits & Clits, Jam, DYKE, A Quarterly, Albatross.5 In fact, 1978 was at the tail-end of a period of growth of women’s comics in the underground, which included not only the long-running series, Tits & Clits (1972-1987) and Wimmen’s Comix (1972-1992), that Gregory mentions, but also Wet Satin #1 (1976) and Wet Satin #2 (1978), Twisted Sisters (1976), and Mama! Dramas (1978). However, these comics provided little space for the evocation of lesbianism. Wet Satin, touted as the answer to the male-heavy series Bizarre Sex, was created as a space for women to explore their erotic fantasies yet contained no comics of same-sex desire. In the parallel realm of grassroots periodicals, Gregory seemingly found the space of communion that Corinne envisioned when she joined the collective of DYKE, A Quarterly as a contributing artist in their fifth issue (1977). Alongside their welcome of Gregory, editors Penny House and Liza Cowan prefaced this issue with their editorial plans for upcoming issues, which included an eighth “comix issue.”6 Such a volume could collect together the four lesbian artists Corinne identified in 1978 and provide the space for new voices; but, alas, DYKE, A Quarterly only published one more issue in Summer 1978 before the collective folded. It was not until a month after Corinne’s donation of her research binder in August 1980 that a publication, Gay Comix, would emerge to link these and other emerging lesbian artists together. In the meantime, Corinne envisioned her research binder as the place where they could connect. She hoped that in sending the material to the archive she would be “shar[ing] the letters in a useful way,” further writing in a prefacing note in the binder that, “If anyone wants to use the original material I would appreciate being credited.”7

4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 0 Notwithstanding the widespread acceptance of comics and their growth as a field of study, these lesbian women and their radical works remain little known today. They are overshadowed by Alison Bechdel, despite the fact that she—widely known for her long-running comic strip series, Dykes to Watch Out For (1983-2008) and her graphic narratives, Fun Home (2006) and Are You My Mother? (2012)—was inspired to start cartooning when she encountered the work of Gregory, Wings, and other artists in the Gay Comix series.8 Bechdel’s legacy should fit alongside rather than be suspended over these artists. After all, her work on Dykes to Watch Out For is created in the same milieu of grassroots publications as these women’s; her success emerges as she is able to self-syndicate her strip in more and more publications across the nation and internationally.9 What is it about these comics that prevent recognition, even now in an era when there is an increasing awareness of grassroots archives and a growing number of radical materials being collected in university and electronic archives?

5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0 To gain insight into this question, we can look at the contemporary academic conversation around zines, another politically radical, often hybrid image-text form where discussions of archives are central to the discourse. Adopting the values and norms of this scholarship transforms our understanding of comics, broadening the kinds of comics we understand as valuable for study and emphasizing the importance of archival materials in such discourse. To explore this last point further, I will survey three examples of recent archival collections of radical comics and discuss how these archives are crucial to analyzing comics under this revised paradigm informed by zine scholarship.

6 Leave a comment on paragraph 6 0 Zines are a contemporary success story of a radical format that has spurred the creation of numerous archival and library collections. Zines also serve as a touchstone in recent conversations about radical materials in archives and the radicality of archives themselves. In The Archival Turn in Feminism, Kate Eichhorn theorizes how these ephemeral objects so quickly entered archival spaces, and what impact that has had on the scholarship and reception of these works.10 Eichhorn asserts that feminist zines in particular have “gained legitimacy as works of literature, art, and knowledge” because of their “[rapid] migrat[ion] to archives and special collections.”11 Eichhorn’s text is one of several book-length studies in the past two decades to focus primarily on zines.12 These books and countless articles even have prompted zine makers to address and reflect on whether this attention “may threaten zines’ status as ‘underground’ media circulating at a remove from capitalist modes of production.”13 Alana Kumbier argues that such exchanges have both reaffirmed zines’ radical status while also highlighting this concern as an issue inviting further dialogue.14

7 Leave a comment on paragraph 7 0 The penetration of zines into spaces of preservation can be shown through the number and type of New York City institutions that collect zines. Within the space of a decade, zines have become a facet or feature of archival collections at prominent private and public universities across the city, including the establishment of the Barnard Zine Library and associated archives at Barnard College in 2003,15 the Riot Grrrl Collection within Fales Library at New York University in 2009,16 and the Brooklyn College Library Zine Collection in 2011.17 Barnard, the institution with the largest collection, houses 4,000 zines in open stacks and around 7,000 (including copies of the circulating zines) in its archive.18 While not primarily a zine archive, the Riot Grrrl Collection contains over 1,000 zines among its holdings, including a healthy number of zine masters, and these works provide the raw materials for a published volume, The Riot Grrrl Collection.19 A significant grassroots collection predates this genealogy; ABC No Rio, an arts and activist center founded in 1980 in the Lower East Side neighborhood of Manhattan, started a zine library in 1998 by “rescu[ing] the Blackout Zine Library from a squat in the South Bronx which was to be evicted,” and today contains over 13,000 titles.20 Other well-known grassroots archives in the city, like the long-running Lesbian Herstory Archives in Park Slope, Brooklyn, and the newly established Interference Archives in Gowanus, Brooklyn, count zines among their holdings, but do not tout these materials as fully realized, separate collections.

8 Leave a comment on paragraph 8 0 The focus on archives that shapes and perpetuates discourse about zines is largely absent from academic conversations on comics, despite recent acquisitions of a range of archival materials, as this article will later explore. That is not to say that the archival turn has not had an impact on comics studies, but this discourse has drawn upon the archive as a concept, rather than as an actual repository, whether physical or digital. In these discussions, a range of scholars have likened comics to what Eichhorn terms an “archival genre” in how they perform the “archival practices … of collecting and ordering.”21 In this articulation, these scholars emphasize comics and archives as nuanced, hybrid forms that are radical in their dismissal of concrete meaning through producing multiplicity and excess. Jared Gardner theorizes this connection as capturing and reshaping cultural phenomena:

9 Leave a comment on paragraph 9 0 Like the archive, the comics form retains that which cannot be reconciled to linear narrative—the excess that refuses cause-and-effect argument, the trace that threatens to unsettle the present’s narrative of its own past (and thereby of itself). The comics form is forever troubled by that which cannot be reconciled, synthesized, unified, contained within the frame; but it is in being so troubled that the form defines itself. The excess data—the remains of the everyday—is always left behind (even as the narrative progresses forward in time), a visual archive for the reader’s necessary work of rereading, resorting, and reframing.22

10 Leave a comment on paragraph 10 0 Gardner values the complexity of both archives and comics as forms, but this conception is not developed in conversation with actual archives, archivists, or oft-cited archival theorists like Ann Cvetkovich, Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, or Carolyn Steedman.23 By engaging the archival turn only loosely and considering the comic as an archive unto itself, he perpetuates the privileging of a formally exceptional and complex self-contained creator or work. He canonizes this against disappearance without recognizing all of those comics that have already disappeared, or the role that archivists and archives have played in preserving or failing to preserve these works.24

11 Leave a comment on paragraph 11 0 Formalism, which defines comics through its embrace of certain structural principles like panels and word bubbles, encourages the study of works that formally excel and obscures less sophisticated or more eccentric pieces. Problematic under feminist and other identity-based paradigms, formalism within comics privileges art and artists with more cultural capital, not less. Concurrent to Corinne’s evoking of lesbian comics artists, feminist scholars like Linda Nochlin explored in “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?” how economic constraints and artistic demands have stifled female artistic output, particularly in certain mediums,25 and Audre Lorde and Gloria Anzaldúa renegotiated Virginia Woolf’s room of one’s own to explore what artistic expression was available to women of color and of limited means.26 Contemporaneous straight, female comics artists explored how the demands of the workplace stifled their own artistic production, with both Sharon Rudahl and Dori Seda examining overt and subtle sexism alongside uneven work opportunities.27 Trina Robbins answered Nochlin’s question through a one-page comic that explored the real-life pressures that kept Impressionist Suzanne Valadon from producing work prolifically.28 To wit, comics artists who are valued within formalist scholarship follow and excel within the defined form, produce prolifically, and disseminate their work within a certain scope of cultural visibility. In Hillary Chute’s text, Graphic Women, which brought new attention to a number of female comics artists and to the field of second-wave feminist comics, she argues, “The styles and the narratives of these important feminist texts have been, in some cases, misunderstood as merely ‘childish’—as merely compulsive, even as repulsive.”29 These critiques of “the styles and the narratives” that Chute outlines issue from this embrace of formalism. Rather than depart from formalism, Chute complicates it enough to allow entry to artists she chooses to study. That is, Chute clings to formalism by expanding the bounds of the term to include these artists rather than overturning the concept. Artists like those in Corinne’s binder do not gain entry to this club, however. Aside from Gregory, who continued making comics and eventually reached a wider audience when she started publishing later works with Fantagraphics, the other three artists never produced comics outside of radical social-justice movements. While Wings gains mention in scholarship for her early solo comics about lesbian identity, Come Out Comix and Dyke Shorts, the limited and sometimes casual work of Schook and Kutzner remains unremarked upon in scholarship.30

12 Leave a comment on paragraph 12 0 If scholarly attention towards these sorts of comics and their associated archives turn away from the formalism of comics studies and instead embrace the informalism or political radicality inherent in the study of zines, then new insights emerge. At the beginning of her book-length study, Girl Zines, Alison Piepmeier defines zines as “quirky, individualized booklets filled with diatribes, reworkings of pop culture iconography, and all variety of personal and political narratives. They are self-produced and anti-corporate. Their production, philosophy, and aesthetic are anti-professional.”31 Further down the page, she qualifies that zines constitute “participatory media,” which underscores how these works are produced and distributed within communities.32 In these definitions of third-wave feminist zines, we can trace connections back to second-wave feminist comics. While comics studies already prioritizes “self-produced” autobiographical and politically inflected works, it largely does not value “anti-professional” “production, philosophy, and aesthetic,” nor does it praise overly “quirky” works where “diatribes” overtake narrative and formal structures. Moreover, the significance of comics collaborations both on and off the page is undertheorized. Comics, according to comics studies, are not “participatory media,” but singular creations unto themselves, demonstrated here by the isolating move of identifying comics as archives.

13 Leave a comment on paragraph 13 0 Interestingly, in Stephen Duncombe’s Notes from Underground, the earliest academic monograph on zines, Duncombe includes “comix,” which he defines as “underground comic books on themes humorous, serious, and nonsensical,” in his list of discrete types of zines.33 Where we would value a DIY, grassroots ethic and aesthetic within discussions of zines, we might feel compelled to qualify or explain away these attributes within comics studies, as Chute does in the aforementioned example. If we value the “participatory media” quality as denoting not only formal collaborations but also networks of influence and publishing, and once we shift our mindset away from prioritizing single authorship, we touch not only radical comics, but also a large swath of mainstream comics and most comics, generally. As a medium of participatory media, archives then become supremely valuable for illuminating these interpersonal networks of production when they collect correspondence, notes, and other unpublished materials like those in Corinne’s research binder, all of which illuminate networks inherent in publicly distributed works.

14 Leave a comment on paragraph 14 0 Alongside the attention given to comics due to the growth of comics studies, a number of new archival collections have recently arisen that are connected in spirit to Corinne’s research housed within the Lesbian Herstory Archives. These newer collections, however, happen outside of the bounds of the social movements in which they were first created because they are preserved within university and electronic archives instead. The fact that these materials exist in multiple, mixed spaces is positive, for they allow access and exposure to different publics; furthermore, the varied cataloging, organization, and discovery systems among grassroots, university, and digital archives allow these radical materials to be viewed and understood from many angles. This multiplicity cannot fully reproduce the complexity of how these comics were originally culturally embedded, but it can strongly gesture in that direction.

15 Leave a comment on paragraph 15 0 Three collections that were developed in the past ten years reflect the potential of archives to impact scholarship on radical materials: Alison Bechdel’s papers within the Sophia Smith Collection at Smith College; Alexander Street Press’s Underground and Independent Comics, Comix, and Graphic Novels digital archive; and a steadily growing number of comics collections with the Rare Book and Manuscript Library of Columbia University. While there are a number of long-standing comics collections in archives, many of these spaces, like Michigan State University’s Comic Art Collection, which gathers together over 200,000 items, focus their efforts on collecting the often rare comics themselves, rather than associated unpublished material.34 These new collections encourage research that builds connections from the comic to the networks of creators and readers that surround it. The development of all of these collections coincides with the blossoming of comics studies and graphic-narrative readership, but this growth has not been heretofore acknowledged. Arguably, because comics studies has dealt with the archival turn only in abstraction, this trend has not become part of the shared discourse, unlike within zines scholarship where archives are admittedly central. I realized this dearth in scholarship when I was searching out texts for a class I developed, “The Rise of Graphic Archives,” which introduces undergraduate students to archival research through a survey of the recent development of collections in New York City devoted to radical visual culture.35 In introducing these collections, I intend not only to draw attention to this new energy around comics archives, but also to inspire research that considers how this new trend will transform the field.

16 Leave a comment on paragraph 16 0 Bechdel donated some of her materials to the Sophia Smith Collection in 200836 and continues to send along new accessions. She donated documents relating to her long-running series, Dykes to Watch Out For, amidst other early career records in the first accession; sent papers related to the production of Fun Home in a second accession in 2012; and bestowed assorted cartoonist correspondence as well as manuscript and personal materials related to the creation of Are You My Mother? in a third accession in 2013. This semi-processed collection contains a wealth of original art and notes on process, correspondence, invoices, press clippings, fan mail, etc. While many researchers will be animated by the materials on her two long-form comics, the collection presents the possibility of connecting Bechdel back to the little-researched, earlier part of her career and the queer and feminist communities within which she first germinated her comics. Her precise records of where she published not only create a map of her impressive national distribution in grassroots periodicals, but they also tell the story of the failure of many of these periodicals, illustrating the changing landscape of radical publications from the 1980s through the turn of the century. While Bechdel largely did not operate within dedicated comics groups or collectives, her correspondence with her publishing venues further demonstrates how these publications not only provided financial support, but fresh material and ideas that Bechdel would call upon to create Dykes to Watch Out For, her evolving soap-operatic strip that portrayed the lesbian community through a diverse cast of characters. In all, these materials evidence Bechdel’s connections to grassroots activism and periodicals and, secondarily, reveal a rich repository of information about these communities.

17 Leave a comment on paragraph 17 0 By placing her papers within a remarkably strong women’s history collection, Bechdel puts her materials in proximity to and in possible conversation with noted feminists of other eras like Jane Addams, Susan B. Anthony, Clara Barton, Helen Gurley Brown, Carrie Chapman Catt, Mary Daly, Jane Fonda, Kay Gardner, Carolyn G. Heilbrun, Kathleen O’Shea, Margaret Sanger, Rosika Schwimmer, Gloria Steinem, etc. The archives also contain an impressive collection of zines in the Girl Zines Collection, allowing Bechdel connection to this third-wave material, as well.

18 Leave a comment on paragraph 18 0 Alexander Street Press’s Underground and Independent Comics, Comix, and Graphic Novels digital collection, launched in 2010, reproduces many radical comics from the 1960s through the present.37 Although this database reproduces only formally printed materials, all of them are relatively rare, so this digital collection makes it more possible for scholars to research these comics. Moreover, the time period and focus of this collection promote cross-temporal understandings of radical comics and how perceptions of what is radical shifted in the form of content, publishing, and distribution over the years. While no manuscript materials are included in this database, reputed secondary sources from within the comics community, like The Comics Journal and Cascade Comix Monthly, provide access to information about the reception of these works.

19 Leave a comment on paragraph 19 0 Lastly, in 2011, Columbia University’s Rare Book and Manuscript Library started actively acquiring comics-focused archival collections with the intent to create a specialty in this area.38 This plan was spearheaded by Karen Green, Columbia librarian in ancient and medieval history and graphic novels, who started building a circulating comics collection at Columbia in 2005.39 Following the initial collection of the files of Chris Claremont, long-time writer on the mainstream Marvel title, The Uncanny X-Men,40 Columbia has subsequently acquired a range of new comics collections, notably including the papers of Wendy and Richard Pini, creators of the long-running and self-published fantasy comic, Elfquest;41 Al Jaffee, long-time cartoonist for MAD Magazine who invented and drew the fold-in;42 and Kitchen Sink Press, one of the major publishers of underground comics from the 1970s onward.43

20 Leave a comment on paragraph 20 0 This most recent acquisition of the Kitchen Sink Press records is especially important for researching radical comics. As of now, only the correspondence is easily available, but when the collection is fully processed, other materials like contracts, editorial files, financial records, comics proofs, etc. will be open for research.44 Within the correspondence, a richly visual and varied world emerges, as comics artists seldom write without imagistic flourish and sometimes include materials like self-made flyers or holiday cards that show off their signature style in a more informal manner. Importantly, the founder of Kitchen Sink Press, Denis Kitchen, kept meticulous records, including copies of his own correspondence with artists, preserving envelopes, and stamping letters with dates of receipt. These records are significant for making available a world of complete conversations around radical comics as presented in the records of a radical publisher who himself was also a cartoonist. This completeness is key for little-known comic artists on the periphery and for those who did not preserve their own correspondence.

21 Leave a comment on paragraph 21 0 All of these new collections reveal the networks—professional, radical, personal, etc.—that influenced the production of various comics. Although Corinne’s yellow binder conveys the lack of a network in the late 1970s, these materials demonstrate how such a network was built soon thereafter, and maintained. The Kitchen Sink Press records show Kitchen in conversation with Howard Cruse about creating, editing, and publishing Gay Comix, a series launched in September 1980 for which Kitchen Sink Press and Cruse served as initial publisher and editor, respectively. These comics and the reception of these works can be found within the Alexander Street Press collection, and Bechdel’s papers evidence the personal experience of one lesbian artist creating a space for her work in the grassroots periodicals of the 1980s before she would later come to first publish in Gay Comix, enacting a publication trajectory that other LGBT artists of the era followed. In developing such collections, archivists would do well to consider how new acquisitions may speak to existing collections, as Bechdel’s example demonstrates, in addition to recognizing that materials important to the histories we will write about comics remain to be collected, as all of the recent acquisitions at Columbia show. These radical collections within a variety of spaces together illustrate the depth of connections and allow a very different kind of comics scholarship to emerge: one that does not consider the comic as a work of art in isolation, but that values the importance of interpersonal relationships, collectives, and conversations as they affect and effect the comics page.

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  1. 24 Leave a comment on paragraph 24 0
  2. Tee Corinne, “Yellow Binder of Comics and Letters from Lesbian Comics Artists: Roberta Gregory, Barba Kutzner, Tea Schook, Mary Wings,” August 26, 1980, Comics shelf upstairs, Lesbian Herstory Archives. []
  3. Tee Corinne, “Comics by Women,” Country Women 29 (June 1978): 25–7. []
  4. Ibid., 25. []
  5. Barba Kutzner, “Reply to Tee Corinne’s Letter about Lesbian Comics Artists,” June 25, 1978, Yellow Binder of Comics and Letters. []
  6. Roberta Gregory, “Reply to Tee Corinne’s Letter about Lesbian Comics Artists,” April 10, 1978, Yellow Binder of Comics and Letters. []
  7. Penny House and Liza Cowan, “Criticism, Feedback & Changes,” DYKE, A Quarterly 5, Ethnic Lesbians (Fall 1977): 5. []
  8. Corinne, “Yellow Binder of Comics and Letters.” []
  9. Alison Bechdel, Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic (New York: Mariner Books, 2006); Alison Bechdel, Are You My Mother?: A Comic Drama (New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012); Alison Bechdel, The Indelible Alison Bechdel: Confessions, Comix, and Miscellaneous Dykes To Watch Out For (Ithaca, NY: Firebrand Books, 1998), 9; Howard Cruse, ed., Gay Comix #1 (Kitchen Sink Press, 1980). []
  10. Bechdel, Indelible, 27–9. []
  11. Kate Eichhorn, The Archival Turn in Feminism: Outrage in Order (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2013), 14–15. []
  12. Ibid. []
  13. Stephen Duncombe, Notes from Underground: Zines and the Politics of Alternative Culture, 2nd ed. (Bloomington, IN: Microcosm Publishing, 2008); Alison Piepmeier, Girl Zines: Making Media, Doing Feminism (New York: NYU Press, 2009); Teal Triggs, Fanzines (San Francisco, CA: Chronicle Books, 2010); Adela C. Licona, Zines in Third Space: Radical Cooperation and Borderlands Rhetoric (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2013); Alana Kumbier, Ephemeral Material: Queering the Archive (Sacramento, CA: Litwin Books, 2014). []
  14. Kumbier, Ephemeral Material, 207. []
  15. Ibid., 204–10. []
  16. “Barnard Zine Library: About the Collection,” Barnard Zine Library, n.d.,; Eichhorn, The Archival Turn in Feminism, 127. []
  17. Lisa Darms, “Introducing the Collection,” in The Riot Grrrl Collection, ed. Lisa Darms (New York: The Feminist Press at CUNY, 2013), 8. []
  18. “About the Collection,” Zines at the Brooklyn College Library, accessed April 19, 2015, []
  19. “Barnard Zine Library: About the Collection.” []
  20. “The Riot Grrrl Collection,” Fales Library & Special Collections, n.d.,; Darms, The Riot Grrrl Collection. []
  21. “ABC No Rio Zine Library,” ABC No Rio, n.d., []
  22. Kate Eichhorn, “Archival Genres: Gathering Texts and Reading Spaces,” Invisible Culture 12 (Spring 2008), []
  23. Jared Gardner, “Archives, Collectors, and the New Media Work of Comics,” Modern Fiction Studies 52, no. 4 (Winter 2006): 801–2. []
  24. Ann Cvetkovich, An Archive of Feelings: Trauma, Sexuality, and Lesbian Public Cultures (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2003); Jacques Derrida, Archive Fever (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996); Michel Foucault, The Archaeology of Knowledge (New York: Vintage, 1982); Carolyn Kay Steedman, Dust: The Archive and Cultural History (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 2001). []
  25. Raymond Pun, “Comics at NYPL: A Research Guide,” New York Public Library, October 12, 2011,; Jenny E. Robb, “Bill Blackbeard: The Collector Who Rescued the Comics,” Journal of American Culture 32, no. 3 (September 2009): 244–56, doi:10.1111/j.1542-734X.2009.00714.x. []
  26. Linda Nochlin, “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?” ARTnews, January 1971. []
  27. Audre Lorde, “Age, Race, Class, and Sex: Women Redefining Difference,” in Sister Outsider (New York: Ten Speed Press, 1984), 116; Gloria Anzaldúa, “Speaking In Tongues: A Letter To 3rd World Women Writers,” in This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color, ed. Cherríe Moraga and Gloria Anzaldúa, 2nd ed. (New York: Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press, 1983), 170. []
  28. Sharon Rudahl, “Working for the Aliens,” in Comix Book #2 (Magazine Management Company, 1975), 3–5; Dori Seda, “The Confidante,” in Prime Cuts #1 (Seattle: Fantagraphics, 1987). []
  29. Trina Robbins, “The Woman Who Couldn’t,” in Trina’s Women (Princeton, WI: Kitchen Sink Enterprises, 1976). []
  30. Hillary L. Chute, Graphic Women: Life Narrative and Contemporary Comics (New York: Columbia University Press, 2010), 6. []
  31. Mary Wings, Come Out Comix (Portland’s Women Resource Center, 1973); Mary Wings, Dyke Shorts (The Print Mint, 1978). []
  32. Piepmeier, Girl Zines, 2. []
  33. Ibid. []
  34. Duncombe, Notes from Underground, 13. []
  35. “Comic Art Collection,” Michigan State University Libraries, accessed August 12, 2015, A key exception to this is Ohio State University’s Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum, which was established in 1977 and features 3,000 linear feet of manuscript material in addition to its extensive holdings of original and published art. “Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum,” accessed April 19, 2015, []
  36. Margaret Galvan, “First-Year Research Seminar: The Rise of Graphic Archives,” NYU: Gallatin School of Individualized Study, accessed August 12, 2015, []
  37. Alison Bechdel, “Low on Memory,” Dykes to Watch Out For, July 16, 2008, []
  38. “A Database of Underground & Independent Comics,” ICv2, September 16, 2010, []
  39. Karen Green, “Research Guides: Graphic Novels,” Columbia University Libraries, accessed April 19, 2015,; Karen Green, “Talkin’ Comics Up In Morningside Heights,” Comixology, April 9, 2012,; George Gene Gustines, “The X-Men Go to College,” New York Times: ArtsBeat, November 17, 2011,; Calvin Reid, “X-Men Writer Chris Claremont Donates Archive to Columbia University,”, November 14, 2011,; Lam Thuy Vo, “Comics Get Scholarly Treatment at Columbia,” WSJ Blogs – Metropolis, September 17, 2012, []
  40. Karen Green, “The Origin Story,” Comixology, December 7, 2007, []
  41. Green, “Research Guides”; Green, “Talkin’ Comics Up In Morningside Heights”; Gustines, “The X-Men Go to College”; Reid, “X-Men Writer Chris Claremont Donates Archive to Columbia University”; Vo, “Comics Get Scholarly Treatment at Columbia.” []
  42. Calvin Reid, “Columbia University Acquires Complete ‘Elfquest’ Comics Archive,”, February 26, 2013,; William Grimes, “Al Jaffee’s Work Is Going to Columbia,” The New York Times, October 6, 2013, []
  43. Grimes, “Al Jaffee’s Work Is Going to Columbia”; Joseph Hughes, “Cartoonist Al Jaffee Donates His Archives to Columbia University,” Comics Alliance, October 7, 2013, []
  44. William Grimes, “Columbia Rare Book Library Gets the Kitchen Sink,” ArtsBeat, December 31, 2013,; Calvin Reid, “Columbia Acquires Kitchen Sink Press Comics Archive,”, December 18, 2013, []
  45. “Kitchen Sink Press Records circa 1965-2013,” Columbia University Libraries Archival Collections, n.d. []

Archiving Grassroots Comics: The Radicality of Networks and Lesbian Community

Margaret Galvan

PhD Candidate in English – The Graduate Center, CUNY

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