Comicpalooza is counting down with buzz surrounding the huge multi-media event happening in Houston, Texas May 27th-May 29th; the event will have guests galore, events that will last from the moment doors open and in some cases the doors may not even shut; but wait that isn’t all Comicpalooza has announced that they are throwing in or is that throwing down with the Houston Roller Derby!
Jeff Hughes sits down with Grrl Friday, Rebel Ann, Batbrat, Big Bad Voodoo Dollie, and Kiva ans talk about the Roller Derby, how they got into the sport, and of course comics.
For Those of us that may not know about Roller Derby, can you explain how the game is played?
Grrl Friday – The game is two 30-minute halves, consisting of jams, which last up to two minutes. Before each jam begins, five girls from each team line up on the track. Four blockers from each team form the pack on the pivot line and a jammer from each team lines up behind them.
The first whistle blows and the pack starts skating. The double-whistle blows and the jammers take off at full speed. The jammers are trying to get through the pack first so they can get the title of “lead jammer.”
On their additional passes through the pack they score a point for each opposing blocker they pass. The lead jammer can control how long the jam lasts, ending it by putting her hands on her hips, which they do in order to keep the other jammer from scoring.
Tell us about Houston Roller Derby and the different leagues associated with Houston Roller Derby.
Actually Houston Roller Derby is its own league. The national association for flat track derby is called the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association, and it’s made up of more than 80 official leagues from all over the U.S., Canada and England. Leagues either have one team or multiple teams.
Houston Roller Derby was formed in 2005 and it consists of three home teams, which compete at our monthly bouts. HRD’s official travel team, HaRD Knocks, is like a dream team of all the league’s best skaters. The Knockouts is another travel team for skaters who aren’t able to (or don’t have the time to) compete on a national level. HRD also houses a recreational league to teach girls how to skate derby.
There seems to be a resurgence in Roller Derby much like Wrestling made it’s resurgence years ago; how has it changed from many years ago?
Grrl Friday Bayou City Bosses – The roller derby of the 1970’s and earlier was often rehearsed and scores were decided ahead of time. The derby of today is less about showmanship and more about the actual sport; it’s not fake. The resurgence of roller derby in the mid-90s also centered on a punk rock, rockabilly, DIY culture that is still prevalent in today’s version of the sport.
How has the movie “Whip It” changed the industry and has it brought in more women wanting to be part of roller derby?
Grrl Friday Bayou City Bosses – Absolutely. Our recreational league swelled with new skaters after the “WHIP IT” movie was released, and we were happy that derby got a nod from Hollywood. I wouldn’t say it has changed the industry, however.
We still play the same way and execute the same level of play we did before. One thing of note is that Whip It featured a banked track league, which has an entirely different rule set than flat track. Depending on which banked track rule set a league operates under, it might be entirely OK to elbow skaters in the face like you saw in the movie – in flat track derby that would get you a trip to the penalty box.
What made some of you want to be part of Roller Derby?
Grrl Friday Bayou City Bosses – “I had been a fan of derby since 2005 when I caught a “Texas Rollergirls” bout in Austin. At that first bout I immediately began brainstorming skater names and imagining what it would be like if I could be out on that track. Since I didn’t know how to skate, I figured it was a lost cause. Years later when I had moved to Houston, I learned that HRD had a rec league that could teach me everything I needed to know. I was sold.”
Rebel Ann Bayou City Bosses – “Where else can you skate around and knock people to ground without getting arrested?”
Batbrat Bayou City Bosses - “I had never heard of roller derby until a friend of friend said her sister was a Burlesque Brawler in HRD- so i stalked HRD for a few years before buying my own skates and joining rec. last year.”
Big Bad Voodoo Dollie Bayou City Bosses – “I got the idea for joining roller when I was in New Orleans, but I can’t for the life of me know how I got the idea seeded.
I think I saw a billboard by my house. Then when I moved to Houston I thought let me google it and i figured just moving here i could use a good 60 new friends.”
When you’re not kicking butt in the Roller Derby rink; what type of jobs do some of you do ?
Grrl Friday Bayou City Bosses – “I’m a reporter for a business newswire.”
Rebel Ann Bayou City Bosses – I’m a Math Instructor at Brazosport College.”
BratBat Bayou City Bosses – I’m a machinist by trade and i build performance cars on the side that i show and will be racing soon.”
Big Bad Voodoo Dollie Bayou City Bosses – “I work at ToysRus part time and go to college.”
Kiva Machete Betties – “I work at the Texas Renaissance Festival as the Amazon Warrior Kiva Fyrewulf with my warhorse, Sampson.”
“In the real world, i teach high school science.”
Last year you won the championship, how is this season going?
Grrl Friday Bayou City Bosses – My team the Bayou City Bosses have won the league championship for three years straight. This season has started off a little shaky with a 131 to 57 loss against the Psych Ward Sirens, but I’m confident that the Bosses will pull it together and get some wins this season. We lost our first two games last season and still ended up on top.
The Houston Roller Derby is going to be part of Comicpalooza; what can people expect to see at the convention?
Grrl Friday Bayou City Bosses - If you’re interested in seeing high-skills derby play, look no further. Houston’s HaRD Knocks travel team is going to take on the Harrisburg Area Roller Derby team from Harrisburg, Pa. on Saturday. Sunday will feature three mix-up scrimmage bouts with fun teams like The Autobots vs. The Decepticons. We’ll also have a booth set up with merch and tickets to our upcoming bouts, and skaters will be available to answer questions.
Growing up did anyone in the group read and/or collect comic books; if so what did you like to read?
Rebel Ann Bayou City Bosses – “I have always been an X-Men. Wolverine is my “fantasy” character. hint-hint”
Bratbat Bayou City Bosses – “As a kid I was into more horror novels…horror erotica…Poppy Z. Brite to be exact. Yeah i’m a sick twisted pervert.
I didn’t get into comics until high school when I discovered Jhonen Vasquez, the creator of Johnny the Homicidal Maniac and Invader Zim. That turned me on to the original Crow series and Sandman, which is my all time favorite.”
Big Bad Voodoo Dollie Bayou City Bosses – “I only got into comics from the kids that read them from the TV. Today I read like water. I like “IZombie”, “Nightmares And Fairy Tales“, “Sky Doll“, “Runaways“, “Aphrodite IX“, briefly into “Madame Xanadu” (the reprint), “X-23“, I also have the three book collection of “Tank Girl”
“Most recently got into “Wormwood: Gentleman Corpse” and “Classic X-men” with the presents of Phoenix and I briefly got into the original “Thor“, “Fables“, “Alice In Wonderland”, “Hack/Slash“, “A Skeleton Story” and the first 11 issues of “Gotham City Sirens“.
“I have read “Kick Ass”, but sadly, thought the movie was better.”
Kiva Machete Betties – “Yes, I survived high school and college with comic books. I collected “Elf Quest“, “Trekker”, “Southern Knights“, and some other odd and end titles of the newly growing independent (not marvel/DC) lines such as “Dark Horse Presents“.
Does anyone in the group collect comic books or any sort of memorabilia?
Bratbat Bayou City Bosses – “Yes I collect Sandman and JTHM and Zim stuff.”
Are their Roller Derby collectibles?
Grrl Friday Bayou City Bosses - Not that I know of, which is a shame. However, I know my husband has been buying up a variety of figures to see if he can make a custom Grrrl Friday!
Would you like to see a super hero or comic book based Roller Derby Comic, if so what would you imagine it to be like?
I think it would be fantastic. There is a graphic novel about roller derby called “JAM! Tales from the World of Roller Derby.” A lot of the stories in it are completely rad, and I could see many of them being extended for a full run.
Be sure to visit the Comicpalooza website and be sure to comic to ComicPalooza May 27th-May 29th , for Roller Derby fun visit your local Roller Derby or if you’re in the Houston area be sure to checkout Houston Roller Derby.