It’s one of the sunniest days of the year so far and we have to work. Not the greatest feeling but whatever…it pays the bills. If we weren’t then we would totally be heading to London’s Hackney Picturehouse to take in the sights at Queer Camp Cult – an exhibition with three of our favourite words in the title.
Sina contributed a stunning drawing of Bea Arthur aka The Golden Girls’ Dorothy to Loverboy Issue #1 and has published his own comics over the years from Art Fag and Dirty Mind to our personal favourite Pretty Boys Ignore You. He’s also behind one of our favourite nights out – Debbie.
Kev is behind The Face of Pop, an online store that sells everything you could need in your life…and kitchen – from illustrations of Madonna’s SEX book to Jessica Fletcher mugs which read ‘I could murder a cup of tea.’ WE WANT IT ALL.
Anyway we thought we’d talk to them and find out more…
How did you come up with the title?
Kev: I think its important to have Queer in the title, because many of the pictures, characters and films occupy a ‘queer space.’ We are both really interested in how that is universally identified with geeky gays.
We want to give more positive power to the word Camp and celebrate campness.
And Cult because these films and characters are ones that Sina, myself and many other people identified as queer growing up, characters that helped us find ourselves, our voice, our comedy.
Sina: What Kev said! These are all films which we personally see as queer, which are important to us and we identify with. Some of them have explicitly gay content and some of them are more to do with a camp, queer sense of humour and vision of the world. Romy & Michele’s High School Reunion for example is about two outcasts who are trying to impress the people that bullied them, but they ultimately realize that that’s worthless and it’s more important to be authentic to themselves – so even though there’s no overt gay content it’s a movie that’s always resonated with me.
Is there a history of queerness in graphic novels/comic strips?
Kev: Massively. I connected as a child to the X-Men. I really related to the mutants’ story, how they were outsiders from the norm, they felt different from everybody else and they left their homes to find other mutants – just like when I left Sheffield and came to London to find other mutants/queers that were as geeky as me.
Sina: Yes, I loved the X-Men and New Mutants too as a child, there’s definitely a queer subtext to superhero comics, and a long history of queerness in comics done specifically for queers, by queers, talking about queer life.
My favourite queer comics artists are probably Jon Macy, who does weird supernatural, homoerotic fantasies, Rob Kirby who writes about his everyday life, Mike Fahy whose work has a cynical bite to it, Anonymous Boy who draws really sexy but really sweet queer punk boys, and Nick Leonard who takes the piss out of the gay scene in a really funny edgy way. All these artists have inspired me since I discovered their work when I was 16 and I’m really happy that I’ve got to know them since.
Who is your favourite character from graphic novels/comics?
Kev: I identify with Tank Girl comics. I collected them like mad with my sister growing up. She was our hero. All we wanted to be was as punk rock and fucked up as her. Guess what…it happened!
Sina: It’s too hard to choose one, but probably Wonder Woman for my more idealistic side, and Magik the demon sorceress from the New Mutants for the darkness. And of course Phoenix for when you just need to eat a whole planet full of asparagus people.
What inspires you – graphically as well as subject wise…
Kev: I am inspired by amazing drawing, comic books, graphic novels. Subject wise, I like twist images and icons to tell a story, or make a comment on pop culture. Pop culture is my main inspiration and I use it to describe my life and how I live.
Sina: Mainly my work is based on my personal experiences, fantasies and observations. Sex, love and relationships are the main subject matter in my work. My work tends to be very directly autobiographical, but I also use elements from pop culture, superheroes, and mythology to express different parts of myself.
How do you feel about being so open about yourselves?
Sina: Sometimes I feel like I should be embarrassed to be so open but then I think, fuck it. I see films like Weekend as cinematic versions of the kind of personal things I share in my own work, so that’s part of the reason I drew a comic strip version of that movie.
Kev: I use a lot of things from my youth and show them in a queer space, like in the ‘Querelle/Thunder Cats’ picture depicting Lion-O and Panthro in a hot embrace. This is based on my childhood fantasies, but also they occupied a homerotic queer space long before I showed up. I just play with the imagery and have fun with it. That image is also based on the Andy Warhol image. I want my work to lift you up as the viewer. I want my work to connect with people and mean something, mainly it’s based on my childhood perversions I’m still living out.
What do you listen to when you draw?
Sina: It depends, I go through phases. Sometimes I like to have an old familiar movie on while I’m drawing. Drawing can be really lonely and the movies are like old friends.
Kev: I listen to Twin Peaks, and Madonna’s back catalogue, I love to sing along at the bottom of my voice. It helps me think… Like a prayer.
Which icon would you most like to come to the exhibition and see your work?
Kev: I would like Gore Vidal to come as I love his work and his writing. Courtney Love. And also Cher as she is a running theme in all my work! ‘Last night I had a dream that Gorbachev came to the show’ Just jokes. Joe Dallesandro, Holly Woodlawn, Streisand…
Sina: I’d love the people I’ve drawn in the show to come, and see what they thought of it. I hope they’d like it.
Which piece are you most proud of?
Kev: Probably the pieces that show a sense of humour and/or mixes my influences together, like ‘Bill and Ted’s Homosexual Adventure’. Again this is a childhood dream realized in a drawing. That’s what art and drawing has always been for me, a world where I make my own rules, a place I can escape to and live in my fantasies.
Sina: Kev just said it beautifully and I agree. I think my favourite piece is probably ‘Weekend’, in a way the melancholy and sexiness of that film is what I connect to the most right now, but I’m proud of everything I’ve done in this exhibition really.
QUEER CAMP CULT is on now at Hackney Picturehouse