Pictures: Jeremy and Ellen at the Jam Factory, 2007 (Stephen Betts). Mardou and Ellen at Caption, 2004 (Pete Ashton). Mardou with Aleksandr Zograf, Caption 2004 (Jenni Scott).
by Jeremy Day
The birth of Whores of Mensa was I think a hand-scribbled card from the pen of Mardou. She wanted to create a different kind of anthology comic, something that was a long way from the regular crush-them-in underground comic with its long contributor list, short story length and quick and dirty strips. She was after something more leisurely, more civilised, where the stories could stretch out their toes and take their time.
In 2003 she contacted myself and Lucy Sweet with the dizzying freedom of a longer strip and a larger page size, with two stipulations; it must be sexy, and it must be clever. We wanted to tease apart the idea (and it is a dominant one, especially in comics) that people need to chose between being sexy and being clever. We wanted a comic that wore glasses and got passes; that was cunning, but also stunning.
Lucy Sweet was drawn away from comics by the demands of her new family, and Ellen Lindner joined the comic in issue #2, where we were heading underwater into the realms of the mermaid. The following year saw us fall under the spell of the mystic east before touching down in Paris for a year of riot and ruckus.
Over the years, we have celebrated and deconstructed the intellectual/glamorous lives of many different women. We have stepped into the worlds of librarians and hipsters, dancing girls and artists, working girls, homebodies and Parisian intellectuals. We have debated the theme, polished the covers and above taken our time to let the stories play.
Last year we opened the doors on the Whores of Mensa for our grand party edition. We went back to the crowd and celebrated a houseful of short, noisy comics from (and about) all sorts of people, without any thought of what was clever or sexy. The stories fell where they lay, and a good time was had by all.
Now, the circle is completed and we are back where we began, and the crooked tale of the Whores of Mensa comes to an inelegant end, passed out on the stairs of the eternal party, cocktail in hand, in her favourite party dress.
Wait just a moment though; for the Strumpet is at the door.
For more information on Whores of Mensa visit our website - for back issues of our comics check our Etsy.