Topic: Women in Horror Zine (Name TBA)
For my project, I will be making a zine series focusing on women characters in horror films over the past 50 years and the implications that they raise about how women are seen and treated in society.
Through each zine, I will dissect a different woman from a different film and go into an array of different kinds of analysis about each character such as…
- their psychology/ what they were thinking
- how they were portrayed visually
- how they were portrayed plot and symbolism wise
- what would have happened to them if the production of the film was different
- Their agency/ lack thereof
As well as other feminist themes to be explored within the horror genre.
The subject matter is interesting and important because while there is a certain amount of research and discourse about women’s presence in horror films, I believe that in popular culture it has been a topic that hasn’t gotten enough attention. I think this topic is important, especially when it comes to older films that are revered (The Exorcist, Texas Chainsaw Massacre) when discourse about how women were portrayed, even if it’s horrible, is almost nonexistent.
I compiled a list of some deeper facets that I will also explore individually in each character’s book…..
- The fact that men often die quickly while the death of women is often drawn out
- Women’s deaths in horror films are often sexualized (never with men)
- The idea of the “final girl” in horror
- There is a gratuitous amount of female nudity and sexual promiscuity in horror films (due to the largely independent and low budget nature of such films) and women are often punished in horror to repress their sexuality
- The idea of “non-phallic sexuality”
- The Freudian idea in horror films that since the woman has never been castrated, and she does not fear castration, she is a threat to male power and must be punished
- The idea of the “monstrous femme” as Barbra Creed
- The idea that women are monstrous because of their biological relationship with the abject, i.e. their ability to create life and to menstruate.
- And many more themes
For this project, my research and art will take on the form of give or take 10-12 handmade zines that will later be digitized, each one illuminating a different character from a different film. The films and characters that I plan on using but are subject to change are…
- Julie of Hellraiser (1987)
- Regan of The Exorcist (1973)
- Carrie of Carrie (1976)
- Stephanie of The Stepfather (1987)
- Justine of Raw (2016)
- Brigette and Ginger of Ginger Snaps (2000)
- Megan of Reanimator (1985)
- Nancy or Rochelle of The Craft (1996)
- Suzy of Susupria (1977)
- Elaine of The Love Witch (2016)
- Jennifer of Jennifer’s Body (2009)
- Sally of Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
As far as examples go, I wanted to dive back and look at some horror zines over the years for aesthetic inspiration.
I included a link here, and here and a link here if you want to check out all of them, but showed some of my favorites throughout the post (i apologize for the quality, but there are not a ton of high-quality internet examples seeing that zine culture is mostly an in-person ordeal).
To be honest, it was pretty hard to find some examples of what I wanted to do because it’s pretty niche and there aren’t a lot out there, but honestly, it only is inspiring me more to make something new.
Horror is an entire genre featured around the abject. The abject here, being anything that repulses us, makes us uncomfortable, or is something that must be radically excluded from polite society. The abject does not respect borders, positions, rules; it disturbs identity, systems, and order… in short, the horror genre, (a genre that features more independent and low budget films than any other genre,) really is punk, and thus deserves a punk medium in which to portray ideas and information around it. That’s why, I thought a black and white, ’80s-’90s cut and paste, photocopy-based zine would be the most appropriate for the project. Zine making, much like the horror genre, has been a mouthpiece for the abject, for those on the fringes of society, saying something that others don’t always want to see or hear, which makes it the perfect medium for my project.
Audience and Impact
I really think my project will be for everyone because, given the list of films, odds are most people have seen at least one. The project will work to really create a large scope of women in horror, given the large range of years that the films are coming from. Because of this scope, I am better able to tackle a myriad of topics. For example, movies like The Stepfather and The Craft question institutions of male dominance, while films like Reanimator and Texas Chainsaw reduce women to screaming bodies, sexual playthings, or children. Given this, I am able to talk to a broad audience on issues that they would not have always thought of before when it comes to cinema.
Between my COM, Art, and other elective backgrounds, I believe I’m pretty qualified to create something like this. You can check out another zine that I made in my last COM class, but I want this series to be less digital and more grungy and cut and paste with an emphasis on the information. I still will use both digital and collage materials, but I don’t want the look to be as digital as some of my other work.
The COM department and major in general are all about mindful communication and new and creative ways we can find to send messages to one another. I think my zine series will be the perfect merge of these ideas.
By exploring a unique topic with a singular medium that will be both digital and concrete, I am able to spread my message in new ways. In my Civic Media class in the past, we learned that activism has no bounds and that sending a message about something subversive just takes drive and creativity. While I won’t be constructing a giant mural, and I wouldn’t particularly label my work for this project as “activist work,” I think the same message applies.
Research-wise, I’d like to find some more zines for examples for my project. I’m going to be visiting The Wooden Shoe in Philly as well as potentially the East Falls Reading Room to take some inspiration from real zine examples.
As far as reading research, I’m currently enrolled in the class Women in Horror which has supplied me with a wealth of information and readings that I’ll be using for the project. Here are a few examples:
- 1000 Women in Horror by Alexander Heller-Nicholas
- The Monstrous Feminine by Barbra Creed
- “When The Woman Looks by Linda Williams
- “Her Body, Himself: Gender in the Slasher Film” by Carol J. Clover
- “Final Girls and Terrible Youth: Transgression in 1980s Slasher Horror” by Sarah Trencansky
- “The Politics of Black Feminist Thought” in Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment by Patricia Hill Collins
- “From ‘Babadook’ to ‘Raw’: The Rise of the Modern Female Horror Filmmaker” by Phoebe Reilly
I will also be using my Professor, Dr. Blackwell as a resource throughout.
Obstacles and Resources
To challenge myself, I want the series to be in black and white, even though using colors is one of my favorite aspects of design. This way I will be taking inspiration from traditional grassroots zine aesthetics while at the same time challenging myself to make more creative design choices without the crutch of color.
A lot of what we talked about at my consulting meeting is the size and scope of the project which can be a challenge. I wanted to inspire myself to shoot higher than lower for the project, so I thought 10-12 zines each being around 6-10 pages is pretty ambitious for the project. Another challenge that we discussed is the stylistic merging of the digital and the physical.
Lately, a lot of my work has been digital so creating something collage and drawing-based will be a challenge I’m excited to jump into. Julia was also familiar with my interest in the occult and feminism and brought to mind another project I did in her class featuring supernatural heroines that I thought was a fun example that I could potentially use visually or idea-wise. I included a couple of them throughout this paragraph to illuminate some ideas.
Week Six 2/21-2/25
Start writing out and breaking up subjects for the six booklets
Keep doing research on traditional zine making
Also research on Riot Grrl
Week Seven 2/28-3/4
Write out the subject matter of the zines
Start sketching aesthetics for booklets
Typography and images
Start finding some images to print out and photocopy
Week Eight 3/7- 2/11
Start working on the first booklet
Keep fleshing out final text ideas for other zines
Keep finding images and drawing
Spring Break 3/14- 3/18
Week Nine 3/21- 3/25
Finish up first booklet
Start working on second
Week Ten 3/28-4/1
Finish second zine
Work on third
Week Eleven 4/4- 4/8
Work on fourth
Week Twelve 4/11- 4/15
Work on fifth
Week Thirteen 4/19- 4/22
Work on sixth
Work on presentation
Week Fourteen 4/25- 4/29
Work on presentation