For Lola Gouine, creating is a deliciously messy process. Fuelled by electro-punk beats and caffeine, Gouine’s pen moves deliberately across the page, her brow furrowed with concentration under a dark mop of hair.
“I have to start with a powerful image,” says Gouine. “It doesn’t mean that image will be the first in a strip, but it provides the inspiration for the comic or a larger drawing. We need strong and beautiful art for our queer and feminist communities. We don’t need boring images.”
Gouine is the scribe behind, It’s Raining Dykes, a bold queer zine with an interesting transcontinental history.
The daughter of two anarchist artists, Gouine could not have come by her craft more honestly. She describes a colourful childhood of grassroots arts and politics in the Spanish Mediterranean.
“We didn’t have a lot of money, so my parents would make jewellery to sell in the street markets. I helped keep the stand with them. And I grew up surrounded by political art. I don’t really remember the first time I saw a zine, but it was surely in the community house where we lived.”
Gouine left Spain in her teens, kick-starting her feminist-anarchist politics in Paris. Soon thereafter, she enrolled in art school in Toulouse, France, a city known for its lesbian culture.
It was in Toulouse in 2004 that Gouine started the now Montreal-based zine, It’s Raining Dykes. The first issue was simply a collection of lesbian comic strips that Gouine had created over the years. During a heavy rain storm, Gouine and a clutch of artsy-lezzies buckled down and assembled the zine, distributing it among friends.
It was also in Toulouse that Gouine fell in love with a French-Canadian artist. Her instructors had been encouraging her to take her art to New York. She bought a ticket, one-way, no cancellations, but to Montreal instead. And if you’re wondering, yes, they’re still happily together.
Since the first rainstorm zine, Gouine has created 10 issues of It’s Raining Dykes. At times, it’s clearly been an emotionally messy process as well. But Gouine has kept to the DIY ethic, determined to keep it real, never shying away from the complexities and insecurities of dyke lives, while managing it all with a dash of humour.
“I was a punk kid before becoming a dyke before becoming a queer. Now I tend to go for a nice punk-migrant-queer identity. Truthfully, I’m questioning my gender at this very moment.”
Considering that the zine has chronicled Gouine’s path, it’s not all that surprising that the upcoming 10th issue, may be the last in this particular series.
With the support of local musical and artistic talent, Gouine launches #10 Jun 7, at Venus Envy. This issue includes artists who have contributed to previous issues or been an inspiration to Gouine over the four years.
Gouine isn’t entirely sure what comes next but she’s clearly attached to the independent concept of the zine and entirely devoted to creating for queer folk.
“The zine is a shower of empowerment itself. I always wanted to speak to my queer chosen family first and foremost, even if most of the strips can easily interest non-queer people. We need to create our own art, our self-representation images. It’s part of laughing at ourselves and staying awake.”
While Gouine may be questioning her gender what she isn’t questioning is her future in Canada. She’s in the process of getting her permanent residency.
“Montreal makes me feel like I can create what I want. That my work is recognized. Being a queer organizer-artist in Europe is not easy — life is expensive, there are so many people, and besides, this DIY queer art is not seen as a real job. I love the peace of this big city where things are always going on in a very friendly kind of way. Europe is more like an old machine — it makes noises, it takes too much fuel and it moves with difficulty. Montreal is different. It makes me feel free.”