My digital presentation for the final assessment.
I’m actually really sad that this is the end of the course.
Some images of binding and covering my graphic novel.
My research for my dissertation about the lack of female representation in comics, video games and animations has led me to look at major publishers like Marvel and DC because they have some very famous female leads like Captain Marvel and Wonder Woman. I don’t hope to compete with these comics, or even be in the same league, but it is something to aspire to because these comics are fine examples of cultural artefacts that reflect real world expectations and ideas of the female narrative.
One of the comics that inspired me to create my own is Dragon Age Knight Errant – it is a comic from a video game world with a female lead, and some excellent character building. It tells the story of Vaea an elf squire to a human knight, in a world where elves are sort of subservient to men and society’s outcasts, but she is also a thief. She is a strong and capable woman who appears as a servant in order to fit in with societal expectations and uses that as a cover for her real life.
It diverges from the story of the video games, but some of the supporting characters from the games do appear in the comics. The world was originally created for the video game series so it is rich in culture and story, which resonates with my practice because I spent a lot of time creating and building a rich and vibrant world with relatable and realistic characters – I hope.
My goal all along has been to create a fantasy world that is grounded in reality – with characters that think and feel in a way that seems real and believable. I want the lore to be a rich tapestry and for the characters and their actions to be woven into that tapestry. I aspire to create a world where the characters aren’t necessarily who they appear to be. They have secrets and lives of their own.
Hopefully I have started to progress towards that goal with this first graphic novel.
An example of this is with Tristan – he introduces himself to Felisandariel as an ordinary soldier, but the reader will learn from this concertina book which is part of the novel pack - that he is in reality the Prince of Caldahorne and leader of the human army. Who knows when she will learn the truth, or how she will react, I mean I know – kind of – but that is in part of the narrative that is yet to come.
The novel pack includes the main book, the concertina, a world map some in world correspondence and postcards and prints in a leather pouch – with a fabulous emerald green lining. Which brings me onto my installation…
I photographed some elements of my work up on the hills above Bryn Eglwys, but at the time I had not finished all of the items for the installation, but I think it gives a good idea of what I was aiming for and brings the created world into the real world to give the viewer a glimpse of what I am trying to create.
The graphic novel is a small piece of a much larger project and serves to introduce the reader to Felisandariel and the world that she inhabits. It takes place in a very small environment within the created world, I decided that I wanted to display my work in the tent installation which is designed to provide foreshadowing for the larger world and the larger story. So the elements within the installation don’t necessarily appear within this chapter, but elude to what is to come in the next chapter.
With the tent completed, I wanted to go back up to Bryn Eglwys to set up my installation in the environment that inspired some of the scenery in my created world, and although the weather was good in Wrexham, it was awful in the hills, so I had to scrap that plan. When the rain cleared for a while we tried to put up the tent, but the wind decided to turn it into a parachute instead.
I set up the installation in my sister’s garden instead and treated it like a test run for tomorrow, there are some display elements that I plan to change, and the whole installation will look better on grass than it does on the flagstones seen here.
I really wanted to show my graphic novel as a digital book on the degree show website, so I have done a test run with some free software that plugs into my own website. I have no idea if this will also work on the degree show site yet, but I can provide the link in the hope that it will.
A few comments that were added at the end of the presentation were about the learning outcomes for this module:
I feel that I have covered the learning outcomes with my work.
I have researched and applied knowledge about bookbinding into creating a physical graphic novel that I am very pleased with. These are new skills that I can also use in the future and having this understanding of how books are created will help my with the design process for the future chapters of this story. There are always improvements to be made, either in the process of making or in the final piece, and this new knowledge will help refine my creative process so that I can work more efficiently and creatively.
My own values and assumptions will always affect my work, I have learned that sometimes these values need to change in order to create my best work, for example when I began creating the artwork for the graphic novel I tried to cover as much of the page as possible with colour and scenery, during the creative process I learned that the white space between the cells or panels is extremely important in a comic book. They allow the reader breathing space between the actions and narrative and also make the story easier to understand and follow.
The topic of my dissertation has hugely impacted the creative process when it comes to understanding the character of Felisandariel, the knowledge I have gained from my research ha enabled me to develop a believable and relatable character who is valued in the created world and hopefully the real world for her skills and personality, not just her looks. I am still conflicted about her design, because I have learned that female characters don't need to be attractive, but I also wanted to create a beautiful character. It has certainly caused me to evaluate my own ideas of beauty and also strength.
I have read many articles that have been written by women and appear to be a platform for man bashing - they state that men are inspired only by lust for the female characters and that women do not think in the same way. I strongly disagree with this analysis, I wanted to create a beautiful female character and also a handsome male companion. Many of these writers also argue that a strong woman doesn't need a man - I agree to an extent, I don't want Felisandariel to be reliant of Tristan, or any other male characters. She need to be capable of living for herself and surviving the the world she inhabits, but a strong woman does not need to hate men, or disregard their help. That would be too prideful. I see no reason why Felisandariel, as a strong female character cannot accept help or advice when it is offered, nor do I accept that she cannot have an intimate relationship with a male character. She should not be wholly reliant, but no-one can make it through life entirely alone.