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Tell-tale feminists

Hand-lettered illustration from the book "Dead Feminists: Historical Heroines in Living Color" by Chandler O'Leary and Jessica Spring

Dead Feminists: Historic Heroines in Living Color has been out in the world for a few weeks, and most folks have been excited (beyond our immediate families). A common response has been one of surprise: “it’s a real book!” Dashing expectations of a coffee table book, Dead Feminists is more than 180 pages of the women, history and social issues entangled in our series of broadsides. Questions about the writing process have come up, from assumptions that we worked with a “real” writer, or that Jessica did the writing while I illustrated. While we definitely worked with talented editors at Sasquatch Books who steered the book towards “real” bookness, both of us did the research, writing and photo research over nearly two years. We also both contributed imagery in the form of illustrations—hand-lettered images from me and beautifully-printed vintage cuts and patterns from Jessica.

The Woman's Bible, written by Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Many of our dearest Dead Feminists are writers, artists, or both– evidence that we all find a way to tell our stories. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who launched our series, wrote most of the speeches delivered by Susan B. Anthony. Some writers and their books are well known, like Gwendolyn Brooks and Rachel Carson—who both confronted ongoing challenging social and environmental issues—and their voices can guide us still. We have mere fragments of poetry from Sappho and carefully handwritten letters from Jane Mecom to her brother—they give us insights into their lives and eras when words from women weren’t often valued or recorded. In the chapter entitled Tell, we focused especially on women who had stories to share, like Virginia Woolf, who carefully crafted and composed both the pages and handset type for printing. Knowing the time and care involved, there is little doubt in my mind that the act of being writer and printer sharpens both crafts.

Historic image of woman printing, from the Library of Congress

Without the discovery of Rywka Lipszyc’s diary found in the ashes of a Auschwitz crematorium she would have disappeared from history. Sarojini Naidu dreamed of independence for India through her poetry (“Waken, O slumber Mother and be crowned”) and was revered as a nightingale, filling the night air with song. We hope you’ll explore these stories more in depth through the book—and for local folks we have some opportunities in the next few weeks to join us in person.

Dead Feminists event at Ada's Technical books, part of Lit Crawl Seattle

Here’s what’s coming up this week and next, when you’ll find us invading first Seattle, then Portland. You can find future events and more info on our events page.

LIT CRAWL Seattle: Book signing and artist talk
Thursday, October 27, 2016, 8 pm
Ada’s Technical Books and Cafe
425 15th Ave. E, Seattle, WA

A retrospective  exhibition featuring our series through broadsides and steamroller prints
Reception, book signing & costume party
Come dressed as your favorite historical feminist!

Saturday, October 29, 4 to 7 pm (the show continues through December 16th)
October 29 through December 16, 2016
School of Visual Concepts
2300 7th Ave., Seattle,WA

DEAD FEMINISTS and RAD WOMEN: joint author event
with Kate Schatz and Miriam Klein Stahl, authors of Rad Women Worldwide
Thursday, November 3, 2016, 7:30 pm
Powell’s Books on Hawthorne
3723 SE Hawthorne Blvd, Portland, OR

LIT CRAWL Portland: Book signing and artist talk
Friday, November 4, 2016, 8 pm
The Big Legrowlski
812 NW Couch St., Portland, OR

WORDSTOCK: Portland’s Book Festival
Chandler & Jessica appearing on an author panel
with Danielle Dutton, author of Margaret the First
and Laurie Notaro, author of Crossing the Horizon
moderated by Elly Blue of Microcosm Press
Book signing to follow
Saturday, November 5, 2016, 1:30 pm
The Old Church
1422 SW 11th Avenue, Portland, OR

book signing and artist talk on the gorgeous Oregon coast!
Saturday, November 5, 2016, 6:30 pm
Beach Books
616 Broadway, Seaside, OR



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In good company

Autostraddle's fall 2016 list of new feminist books, featuring Dead Feminists: Historical Heroines in Living Color

Jessica and I just found out that Dead Feminists: Historical Heroines in Living Color has been included in Autostraddle’s roundup of feminist books coming out this fall, and we couldn’t be more thrilled! Also…we’re a bit intimidated, because it’s a bit mind-boggling to appear on a list that also includes Margaret Atwood, Roxane Gay, Zadie Smith and others. Most of all, though, it’s incredibly inspiring to be in the company of so many talented women writers.

Speaking of hanging out with women writers, in November we get to team up with another feminist duo (who are also included on Autostraddle’s list) for a joint author event at Powell’s Books in Portland! Kate Schatz and Miriam Klein Stahl, the respective author and illustrator of Rad American Women from A to Z, have a new book coming out on September 27, entitled Rad Women Worldwide. Kate was kind enough to say some super nice things about our book:

Dead Feminists offers well-researched and meticulously illustrated insight into some of America’s inspiring historic heroines—but it also goes way beyond that. This book is a profound and super-smart look at feminist craft, creation, and collaboration, and reminds us that what goes on behind the scenes can be just as powerful as the finished product. I am so grateful to Chandler and Jessica for allowing us into their radical world.”

We’re excited to read and pore over Kate and Miriam’s new book when it comes out, and even more excited to meet them in person for the Powell’s event. Here are the details:

Special joint Dead Feminists & Rad Women author event
Thursday, November 3, 2016, 7:30 pm
Powell’s Books on Hawthorne
3723 SE Hawthorne Blvd, Portland, OR

And as always, you can find all our book-related signings, talks and shows on the events page.

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Rose City gals

Powell's City of Books photo by Chandler O'Leary

Seeing our stuff for sale at my all-time favorite bookstore makes me happier than I could ever see. If you’re in Portland, or you’re going to be, you can now find Dead Feminists postcards, Lemonade Journals and mini-prints at Powell’s City of Books! Last time I was there I found them in the Red Room.

Powell's City of Books photo by Chandler O'Leary

Rumor has it they’re also in the Orange Room, but Powell’s is crazy-huge and charmingly labyrinthine, so I never did come across them there. Never fear, though: the myriad Info Desk staff are smart and lovely. They’ll point you in the right direction.

"Dead Feminists" postcards by Chandler O'Leary and Jessica Spring

P.S. How cool is the description on that sign? I love these people.

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Aboard the Pineapple Express

Portland, OR photo by Chandler O'Leary

One of the nerdy things I love most in the world is “collecting” regional nicknames for weather systems. I’ve lived in a lot of different places, and have first-hand experience with such things as the Nor’easter, the Albuquerque Low, the Alberta Clipper, and Blood Rain (which, I’ll admit, is as freaky as the name; watching rust-colored droplets fall from the sky and stain every surface—including you—is a disturbing experience).

Here we get the occasional visit from the Pineapple Express—a holiday guest from the South Pacific that overstays its welcome and eats everything in your fridge. And it thanks you with the gift of a warm bath—a gift that keeps on giving: namely, torrential rains, washed-out roads and rails, snowmelt at all but the very highest elevations, and areas of flooding which include, right at this very moment, our basement. (Not to worry; for us, at least, the rain trickles in, gathers in an interesting map of puddles, and trickles back out again when the storm subsides. And for all the well-meaning people who offer us unsolicited remodeling advice, it serves as an excellent illustration of our resolve never to have a finished basement.)

Anyway, while I concede that it made the drive more … er, interesting, the Pineapple Express served as an oddly fitting companion on my trip to Portland yesterday.

Portland, OR photo by Chandler O'Leary

For one thing, it gave sudden and perfect context to one hilarious interpretation of a Christmas tree.

Portland, OR photo by Chandler O'Leary

It made the bright spots glow—

Crafty Wonderland photo by Chandler O'Leary

and turned even the most nauseating corporate decor into a sea of color.

Crafty Wonderland photo by Chandler O'Leary

It got the old mental wheels turning by inviting me indoors, from a dose of crafty goodness,

Museum of Contemporary Craft photo by Chandler O'Leary

to an entire museum devoted to another kind of craftiness.

Museum of Contemporary Craft photo by Chandler O'Leary

And with nothing but a soggy hike waiting outside, it inspired me to take my time and have a good, long look at what I found.

Pearl Bakery photo by Chandler O'Leary

It encouraged me to visit a favorite bakery—

Pearl Bakery photo by Chandler O'Leary

—and warm up over a well-rounded lunch (sorry).

Powell's City of Books photo by Chandler O'Leary

It gave me an excuse to duck into the best bookstore in the entire universe.

Portland, OR photo by Chandler O'Leary

And just as daylight waned, it helped a certain somebody’s nose glow oh-so-bright.

Oh, and then, as I walked back to my car for the drive home, it made this song pop into my head. After all, paddling home in a canoe might have been a little more efficient!