The
 

Girlfrenzy magazine is the UK's only underground girl zine. Published since way back in '91, it's bursting with quirky, interesting, kick-ass stuff by and about females: all kinds of articles and comic strips, and NO make-up tips! Highlights have included a Piss Manifesto, and a guide to making your own sequinned nipple tassles. Last year the zine went massive, becoming a big glossy girls' annual. AMP pulls up a chair and chats to Girlfrenzy's editor and creator, Erica Smith.

Can you give us a brief history of Girlfrenzy?
Sometime in 1990 I was walking to the cornershop and the name Girlfrenzy popped into my head. I was probably day-dreaming about girl-punk bands and comics - but the name seemed so good I wanted to think of something really special to do with it. I can't play a musical instrument or sing in tune, and it would have been a waste to turn it into a 2 gig band.

 

'Since no-one else was doing the kind of thing I wanted to read, I decided I'd do it myself!'

At the time I'd just got into reading comics as a 'mature reader' (Love and Rockets basically), and was horrified at the lack of any comics drawn by women - and the general lack of interesting comics! It's a great medium, and so underused.
I also felt a lack of provision in what I wanted to read as a woman - traditional feminist magazines like Spare Rib were very po-faced and prescriptive about issues like pornography - and stuff like Cosmo was hypocritical consumption-fuelled rubbish. I wanted to read things about Valerie Solanas and find out about more women comic artists. Since no-one else was doing the kind of thing I wanted to read, I decided I'd do it myself.

 

 

Who are your favourite comic artists and fanzine writers?
My all time favourite zine, Mudflap, was by a cycle punk in California called Greta. She did 6 issues and wrote and drew beautifully (even pictures of people riding bikes which is the hardest thing in the world to do). She ended up getting married to a bike repair man - I don't know if she's still publishing. Dishwasher and Cometbus, although both by boys, are similar in style to Mudflap and I consider them to be amongst the best things I have read. Comics - I still love Jamie Hernandez's drawings, and Carol Lay too - more people should read Carol Lay's comic books. I love Rachel K Rocket's (Slampt Kid) drawings - as pure and simple as she is. And I wish I could draw like Carol Seatory who creates comics by cutting them out of paper. I really don't like the whole style of super-hero comics - that's as much to do with the fact they are coloured as it is to do with the style. I love simple clean black and white lines. And they photocopy the best too.

 

 

 

Do you harbour dreams of mainstream success in any form?
My lack of ambition may be my downfall - but in the short term it will probably keep me from going bankrupt. I do design work to make money to live (and because I like working with most of my clients). I am too cynical to believe that I could ever make a living from doing something like GirlFrenzy. I sometimes watch people investing whole loads of time, money and effort into Big Projects, and although I admire them for trying, it never surprises me when they fail. I also hate being interviewed - I like writing my articles and doing strips in GirlFrenzy because I am writing from a very open and honest level. I've never been any good at flirting, and dealing with TV cameras seems to require a similar skill - you have to seduce people that you don't actually know well or care about. If you want mainstream success you have to be a Media Tart!

 

Finally, any advice for a budding Erica Smith?
Another Erica - poor girl! One of the things I find weird is that some people who don't know me must think that I'm a really cool person who has everything sussed and leads this envious existence... well, I am very happy with my life, and I can't think about living it any other way, but that doesn't make me Ms Perfect. On some levels I am quite shy, and I definitely get happier the older I get. Being young isn't all fun - don't buy that myth. I feel much happier and more confident with every year that passes.

Integrity is important to me. I'm a very honest person and I don't like being around bull-shitters and manipulators - character traits common in middle-management, middle-age, middle-class, male bosses. I admire people who manage to survive on the dole for years whilst being committed to their own projects which are valid, but not financially viable. I just can't do it myself. Being self-employed is my middle path! I like people very much, but I'm not a big fan of 'today's society'. I think it's important to work out how you fit in to the scheme of things and find your own way of dealing with life. That means being honest with yourself as well as other people. You have to believe in yourself too (which doesn't come easy to a lot of very talented people), and go out and turn your ideas into reality.

Another thing people don't do enough is talk to people they don't know. It really surprises me how so many people don't like asking anyone else for anything at all - not even directions when they are lost. I really like the way people are so different from each other but we do share a basic humanity. I hate all this "Oh he's old, she's fat, he's wearing Doc Martens, she's got a velour tracksuit". I was working on the door of a club during the Brighton Crawl with one of the paid bouncers who was a typical Security Type - and then he went to the boot of his car and got out a huge coconut sponge cake that he'd baked that afternoon! Every Saturday he makes 2 cakes to share out at the end of the shift. That really made me laugh.

 

'Being young isn't all fun - don't buy that myth.'

 

The Girlfrenzy Millennial is out now (6.50).

Back issues of Girlfrenzy 2 (1), 4, 5 and 6
(1.50 each, incl. p&p) are still available.

Cheques to GirlFrenzy, PO Box 148, Hove, BN3 3DQ

INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM FROM THE FRINGES OF GIRL CULTURE

 

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