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  • Emma Ford

Dissertation and Studio Practice

Updated: Aug 20, 2021

As I stated in my last post/rant I don't consider myself a feminist, but I will always advocate for more female characters and creators. This has always been the inspiration behind my graphic novel.

It has led me to think more about my dissertation and my studio practice and how they relate to one another.

I came up with this design for my dissertation cover after my feedback tutorial with Yadzia and our discussion about female characters, and whether a strong female protagonist can still be considered beautiful and appealing, if not scantily clad.

It's not necessarily a final design, but it does convey the points that I think are important to my dissertation and my practice.

I aimed to create a female protagonist for my graphic novel, one who is not just a woman, but also who is a well rounded character - some characters in comic books can be very shallow, and I wanted to avoid that.

The questions I have asked, or the statements I have made on this drawing are relevant to my graphic novel as well as my research for my dissertation. I am curious as to whether Felisandariel will appeal to a comic book audience, which is usually considered to be mostly male, knowing that she has proper clothing and sensible armour, and whether she can be a character that is appealing and attractive. I wrote about the elven society parodying the fashion industry and our expectations of beauty in a previous post, and this impacts the story and my protagonist. The elves are all about beauty, those in power live to be seen as beautiful, and Felisandariel does not fit into their ideal, but does she fit into our ideal? Is our society ready to change and see female protagonists that don't have everything on display?

As a counter point to this though, there is a romantic arc to my graphic novel, it is an adult story and there is sex and passion in the narrative. When I say "without being sexualised" I don't mean there will be no nudity or sex, I mean that the characters have sensible clothing for their role in their lives and the story. Strong female characters don't have to hate men, or avoid them. A woman can still be strong and have a relationship.

My graphic novel obviously has a fantasy setting, with the usual fantasy races and creatures, and a lot of battles and fighting, really a lot, but in essence it is about people's perceptions and first impressions of one another.

The opening sequence is very action heavy, but as the narrative continues the characters will interact more deeply, and in theory (who knows if it will work in practice) we will learn about their misconceptions and perceptions about each other. For example, when Felisandariel meets Tristan he first treats her as if she is incapable of fighting (because in his world, women don't fight.) He soon learns that she is a skilled warrior. At first she does not trust him, because he is human (the elves and humans are at war) but she is fleeing her own kind and he chooses to protect and help her, with no real motivation (that she understands) to do so.

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