I am a total Derby Nerd– Check out more at the Windy City Rollers Website!
(All these players are REAL.)
LOVE the last panel! That should be on a shirt.
I am the same way. But I dream to be a ref, b/c I don’t want to get hurt. >.> (here are my roller derby related journal comics: http://lentroller.blogspot.com/search/label/roller%20derby)
Oh my gosh, this is so funny, as it was exactly my feeling as a just-ok, not-super-committed comics artists going and shaking hands with people at Stumptown. Fun fact: I had a bag of my comics with me that I wanted to give to people whose work I really liked, but I couldn’t get up the nerve! I gave Kate Beaton one of my blank notebooks, and she thought it was great, but I was too much of a coward to ask her for a sketch!
This comic gives me courage.
I am torn on Rolly Derby– on one hand, I want to throw myself into it as a superfan, but on the other, I’m skeezed out by the prevalence of male coaches on women’s teams and the way the players are presented. It’s not that they’re being out-and-out objectified, I just don’t think we’ve made it far enough into sports equality for that kind of presentation not to seem like they’re being served up for the male gaze. And maybe it’s the male coaches… harem fantasy anyone?
Other than thinking about things too hard, I love love love love love your comics. I have shared your fancy restaurant one with a million friends. I took a trip to Portland in March and was devastated when I learned that the Stumptown Comics festival would be there the NEXT month– and I wouldn’t get to meet you and Kate Beaton.
My older sister, who’s been going through some hard shit, wants to be a roller girl. And I totally support her. I guess one of the sucky things about feminism is not being able to just enjoy something if it even slightly has a hint of possible sexism (even if it totally does not). Think think think until I can’t enjoy it. I just want to be awesome, smart, strong, creative, and at the very very end, sexy. But everything else first.
I know exactly what you mean! I feel similarly about the comics world, from time to time. I wish I could just relax about all the use of the objectified female to sell comics (booth babes, scantily clad superhero chicks with giant boobs, sexist webcomics that basically use misogyny as humor). I think it’s changing, though, and that aspect will seperate and dwindle eventually, but it’s impossible not to get all worked up about it. Roller derby appeals quite a lot due to its powerful women as the focus of the game– and they’re not over-the-top juiced-up athletes like in professional male-dominated sports– I like ‘em because they’re mostly just other ladies like me who happen to be badass at skating and somewhat fearless. The male control issue (coaches, refs, etc) is a problematic issue, yes, but I don’t think it’s actually present. The male coaches take a backseat to the players and captains, it seems, and I get the sense that it’s been reclaimed by the players. I see a lot more women coaches, and a lot fewer creepy dudes leering at the girls at the bouts. I’m also glad to see that there are wayyy fewer fishnet/tits-falling-out-tops/shorts-up-the-butts on the players, and a lot more cool uniforms. I’m optimistic about the dynamic I’m spotting!
THIS IS SOOO COOL!!!
Wow! I am flattered! It’s fans like you that make all we do all the more exciting! We’re skating for you! And for the comments about male coaches, I honestly haven’t seen that many in my 3 years of the sport…
Ruth Enasia, #81
Windy City Rollers
(see you at the game tomorrow, hopefully!)
This is so amazing, Lucy! The whole league is all a-twitter over this. And on a personal level, you get a HUGE GRAND SLAM for including the inside whiteboard– our officiating crew is going nuts! Thank you so much for being a fan: stuff like this makes all the time and hard work worth it.
a. brown: Believe me, we are as concerned as you are about the gender issues involved and we do our best to avoid the blatant stereotypes– our league really tries to drive home the point that Rollers are athletes above all else. I hope you can give us a chance to prove it to you by seeing us play some time! And if you do, drop us a line to let us know your thoughts!
This is awesome, Lucy! And I just want to echo Ruth’s comments about male coaches, &c. From my experience, any male coaches that have been brought in by teams have been brought in BY the team… i.e. the skaters want him there– it’s not some weird harem fantasy.
There definitely are lots of male refs, but it’s still the skaters who make the rules.
Modern women’s flat track derby is unique among sports in that it was truly developed by women, for women– not as a “girls’ version” of a men’s sport.
Hope to see you at the bout tomorrow!
Loco Chanel, #31
Derby *is* great, and I think a huge part of that is because the skaters are utterly approachable–we love to talk to fans! Come talk derby with us any time you’re around. (I totally know where you’re coming from, some of us get tongue-tied around skaters from other leagues who are our own heroines!)
And as an aside: there is NO male “control” in WFTDA roller derby. The men you see on the track with us as refs, stats, oval team crew, bench coaches–they are only there because we gave them the opportunity to get involved. We appreciate all the work they do with us, because their help means that we can focus on skating. Believe me when I say that there is no question that the ladies are in charge when it comes to WFTDA roller derby these days!
We’re always looking for volunteers, so if you want to be part of the magic without breaking your hand–you have options!
See you at the Pavilion–
This is SO cool! We are flattered as a league and it’s fans like you that make playing derby so awesome. Without you guys, we’d just be skating in circles for no reason. Hope you see you at the next bout tomorrow!!
The Fury #52
Windy City Rollers
To a. brown:
At the core of the modern roller derby revival is the credo “by the skaters, for the skaters”. Teams that have male coaches do so because they wanted to have a male coach. Not all teams do. Often he’s a friend of significant other of one of the skaters. And although he makes strategic decisions during game play (and may even run the training program), he’s not in charge of the team.
Try it out. If you’re not comfortable skating, just volunteer for your local league and get to know them. In my experience, as a ref for more than 3 years now (and a fan for 4), the skaters start at smart and creative, learn how to develop strength and awesomeness, and in doing so, become sexy. It’s not showing off because it sells tickets (to be fair, it does), it’s being proud of who they are, and the ticket sales are a bonus that supports the continued spread of awesomeness.
Well, I was gonna say something about how there’s no “male control” in roller derby, it’s DIY, by the skaters/for the skaters, etc, but everyone else beat me to it…
So instead I’ll say how much I enjoyed this comic, and how it made me happy to see such awesome pictures of my teammates, and that you should definitely say hi after the bout!
Also, I totally get the starstruck feeling. The year before I tried out for the Windy City Rollers, I went to every game and was a huge superfan and talked about it nonstop to people who just smiled and nodded. I would occasionally spot one of my favorite players in the neighborhood, grocery shopping or whatnot, and then I realized she lived IN MY BUILDING! She knew I was a fan of the league and would say hi when we saw each other outside, and I tried to act cool and chat, but I’m sure I just ended up sounding like a tongue-tied dork.
I ended up being drafted to her team. Craziness.
-Ada Hatelace, #1337, Manic Attackers
TOTALLY totally totally try out for roller derby. many leagues have a large number of home teams, and most skaters start out with NO, and I mean NO skating ability. they will teach you EVERYTHING.
also if you are looking for something to throw yourself into, and meet a huge number of new and awesome people, its worth a shot.
i skated for 6 months, it didn’t work out for me, but i had fun. and now I’m not a totally horrible skater, i still volunteer with the league and get to see bouts free.
also a lot of leagues don’t have male coaches. i know the top team in the league i played with, is a ref, who knows his stuff. he only bench coaches for bouts, but hes not part of practice.
OK I admit that everything I know about Derby is what I learned in the 70s and from Whip It.
And I loved that movie.
Lucy your love letter to the sport is absolutely fantastic I also liked the water color you did a couple of months ago on the subject. And to think it did not go out into a vacume all the skaters that posted here, that is totally cool of y’all to chime in and validate and appreciate what she posted.
yes a 52 YO man got a bit verclempt reading through these posts
I love that you love derby! I had your watercolour of derby girls as my desktop picture for the longest time. I’ve just started roller derby and I’m OBSESSED! I love skating and for once in my life I’m not afraid of getting hurt. It’s so much fun and so rewarding to find out you’re good at something! Right now my thighs feel like knives are jamming into them when I run because I trained for too many days in a row. I wish we had more fans up here in Canada… it would be nice to have a rink instead of having opposite seasons than other places because we have to wait for the summer to use the curling rink.
Hey, we have a roller derby team here in KY near where I live! Haven’t checked them out, though…
I love Roller Derby, especially the hardcore chicks who do it!! They had some out at the Toronto August show FanExpo one year, and I just had to keep going by when I could…
this is so so so awesome! thank you for being a fan of WCR and you should definitely come try to skate. to quote a recent movie about roller derby, “be your own hero.” you never know what you are capable of with it until you put some skates on your feet and go!
Oh man, this comic is exactly how I feel around skaters! What’s worse was that I got into it while was working with skaters from the league in Maine on a radio documentary so I had even more opportunities to look like a dork (i.e. all the time).
PS – Hi! We met really briefly at MoCCA and I bought a roller derby watercolor from you. Thanks so much!
I keep wondering how you would combine your love of roller derbies with your love for tentacled monsters. By having the skaters go speeding on a track built around a circular aquarium? By the opposite?
Speaking from Austin, Texas here (home of the Lonestar Rollergirls). I am IN LOVE with roller derby and Ive been hoping Lucy’d make a comic about it ever since I saw that watercolor. It is without a doubt my all-time favorite sport, in part because the athletes are so friendly and approachable. Around here, the teams and commentators all go to a nearby bar for an after party once the bout ends, and the whole audience is invited. I’ve always wondered if there are any differences in out of state leagues, can anyone enlighten me?
I am so flattered to be in your comic, and so excited that you love the WCR and roller derby! It’s such a weird feeling to meet people who feel giddy or nervous about talking to us, because we are all just regular ladies who happen to love this crazy sport.
Hopefully, I’ll get a chance to meet you after one of our games, and then I can tell you what a fan I am of your comic!
In addition to your art being super awesome, you are a really good writer! I love all of these comparisons you use, like the tower defense game thing, and how wordy the comics are and slkrghkfdjgkjhgdyhjgbareg these comics are just wonderful. Like like like like like
My dream is to write a comic about roller-derby girls who are also in an all-girl band, who are in actuality the Riders of the Apocalypse and actually work to PREVENT the end of the world. I obsess for hours coming up with Roller Derby names for the various characters in the book, and all of the ridiculous enemies they face. I just recently read over on the Neil Gaiman blog about his evening with a team of Roller-Derby women and their various friends and family. It seems like everything I se and read lately (including this comic) has been about Roller Derby, nudging me more and more towards my writing idea. Can’t draw worth crap, but will solve that problem later.
great post as usual!
This is great. I’m a huge derby fan AND comics fan and seeing the two mixed (here or when Eric Powell does stuff for Nashville) always gets me a little giddy.
Keep showing up, totally try out, and maybe I’ll see you in August when RMRG comes out to throw down.
Very cool comic. It’s hard to admit being shy at times, and even harder to overcome it. Believe me, I still feel that way a lot (and I work with a league even).
As Karma said, there is always call for volunteers, especially if you are willing to put in the time and learn the rules, how to stat tracking and non-skating official duties. You don’t have to skate to help the skaters.
Oh and as male non-skating official, anybody who thinks working with a derby league is a harem fantasy come true just needs to try it. Seriously, I dare you.
Finally, while I know that some worry about the risque nature of derby, I think it’s fine that some girls like to derby it up. Feeling sexy in an empowered way is not bad, and if fishnets and a booty billboard works for a skater, fine. If not, that’s fine too.
“art hand” cracked me up. No wonder I never got good at drawing. I’ve been stuck with these regular ol’ left and right hands.
Keep posting stuff like this i really like it
Nice work, Lucy! I’ve been a derby fan for several years, and I know how you feel — it took me a long time to overcome my own starstruck tendencies and “pet the panther.”
Hey, not sure if you’re familiar with Derby News Network, pretty much the main derby news site, but they featured your comic on their Weekly Rollup and Open Thread 5/14/10 column.
Thanks so much for your support!
-Tina Flay, Double Crossers #55
My cousin recommended this blog and she was totally right keep up the fantastic work!
I love this. Sometimes it’s nice to just be a distant fan. As with badass roller derby chicks. Or badass Lucy Knisley’s comics.
a.brown: Derby skaters generally wear what they want to wear. Below the waist, anyways. Their tops are generally team uniforms (though I can think of at least a couple skaters who’re known to craftily tear their jerseys apart and resew them into something amazeballs). Outside of maybe two or three leagues (out of around 400 around the U.S.) with tighter uniform rules (that the skaters themselves voted into place) skaters can wear tights, stockings, fishnets, cut off jeans, booty shorts, whatever.
If you are wondering about the preponderance of male coaches in women’s roller derby, back up a sec and think about it. This version of the sport is women-only. If someone knows derby that well, well enough to do it, she’d probably be ON THE TEAM rather than standing in street clothes coaching it. There ARE some retired skaters who are female coach derby teams. My league’s travel team is lucky enough to have one of the best out there.
Since guys can’t skate as players in this version of derby, they tend to be referees, coaches and other volunteers more often than not. Though a good many of those folks are women as well.
When you see men’s derby (it’s happening in a few places) the skaters are men (largely the women’s derby volunteers I mentioned two paragraphs ago), and the referees and coaches often tend to be women.
In other words, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.
The part I really liked: The leaning into turns bit. The main reason my nephews liked playing video games with me when they were kids was that (much to their amusement) my body would kind of “get into” the game. I’d duck, lean, make faces, and well, I hate to think about the things my tongue does while I’m playing a video game.
I’m so intrigued! Roller derby is so popular up here that whenever tickets go on sale for the next bout they sell out almost instantly (I suspect there aren’t a lot of seats to begin with, but still), so I haven’t been, but one of these days I’m going to have to check it out!
with in this year iv just learnt about the world of Roller derby. and I’m so far part of the freshmeat (newbie’s) group for the Pirate City Rollers.
I’m not any were near good enough to play in a bout, but hopefully soon. so I’m still sitting in the bleachers. (I also lean into the corners, and i cant keep my feet still)
Terrific work! This is the type of information that should be shared around the web. Shame on the search engines for not positioning this post higher!
This is so sweet! Even as someone who is a member of another league I found it adorably touching. Well done!
Hey Lucy –
I’m late to the party, but I LOVE your work and this comic in particular. I write as the Derby Dame for Gapers Block, and I just posted about the comic here: http://gapersblock.com/tailgate/2010/12/lucy-hearts-derby.php
“Hey, what’s your derby name?”
“Pocket Rocket.. what’s yours?”
“Jabba the Slut.”
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