Here is just a sample of some of my recent photo project, CONsent, which you can read about here.
Please read and spread the word around. I got to work with some great cosplayers, photographers and fans and I really hope to continue this project if it gains enough support.
Thank you for looking!
I just want to say that as a cosplayer at cons, this is a real issue. The amount of things that get said (and mostly REQUESTED) to us is ridiculous. This deserves a signal boost.
On Facebook a couple days ago BelleChere posted basically asking people to not proposition her. Throughout the comments she noted she was married and neither one of them appreciated creepy comments made toward her. A number of people proceeded to argue with her saying that because she dressed up, it was okay.
I know a ton of people who have dealt with harassment at cons and they feel like they can’t say anything because it’s a convention. WRONG. You deserve to feel safe no matter where you are. Dressing up is not giving someone permission to say something to you or do anything to you.
This is a great project and it gets a boost from me.
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I’d like to warn you about something, it’s a bad habit I’m trying to break, and in the process, it’s nearly breaking me as a writer. Haha. Visual storytelling is a spectacular chimera of so many disciplines, which makes it seem deceptively easy. Put some characters in boxes and circles with points that have words, then put those boxes next to each other and blamo, you have a comic. And to a large extent, that is true, but it couldn’t really be that simple, unfortunately.
Artists who write, amateur writers, and web cartoonists (I see myself in the middle of that venn diagram) are particularly guilty of confusing “icon” with “meaning”. Here is why…
This is an image I drew a few years ago. As an image, it’s got style, theme, mood, conflict, character, and intrigue (if you’ll indulge me). But imagine that I wanted to turn this into a story. Cool, it’s a starting place, and it seems like it writes itself! But wait a minute… why would anyone care about that story? As an image, it has all the story it needs, but as a story, the image isn’t enough.
You take two icons (Godzilla and Galactus) and they each stand for all of this meaning and information that people have collected about them: the plots and images and sounds in the movies and comics they’ve appeared in, how old the viewers were when they saw those things, feelings of nostalgia and the glory of times gone by as simplified by memory, and many other associations hanging around in the subconscious. There’s is a ton of activity in the brain when the right person sees the right image! And yet, there isn’t enough of the right kind of activity to write a story worth reading.
It’s so easy for artists and pop-culture junkies (again, picture me in the middle of that venn diagram) to believe that all they need to do is recombine the icons they love, and suddenly that have an excellent story on their hands, something that feels just as special as when they played with those toys or saw those comics when they were younger. But that is a trap. When you mash things up, or re-imagine, or genre clash, often times all you have is just that: a mashed-up, re-imagined, genre-clashed mess. It might make a good joke, or a good image, or even a good starting point, but it’s not enough to write something worth reading.
Think about Astro City. It’s a super hero book with iconic looking heroes in a fantastic, exciting place, but Kurt Busiek is wise enough to know there is only so much he can say about the icons themselves. His stories are more often about normal people on the ground dealing with relatable problems set on the fantastic stage of a superhero city. This is true when he is writing for the super hero characters as well. Issue #1, the Samaritan issue, isn’t about the action or adventure of being a Superman type of hero, it’s about a guy who is so tired and busy that the only times he feels free of stress and responsibility is in his sleep. We’ve all felt that way, if even only on one really bad day. That’s the story, that’s the “meaning”, the super hero stuff is just the “icon”.
Unfortunately, I’m not a skilled enough writer to tell you how to avoid this problem, only to point it out. I would suggest thinking about your own life. What are the moments that stand out as formative and important to you? What are the things you’ve said that have made someone else say, “Yeah, me too!” or “I thought I was the only one!”? Find out how to code those moments and feelings in a relatable story, WHILE you think about the imagery you could use to tell that story. How can you recreate the context of your life in a story that would lead someone to share those same feelings? How can you tell a lie that tells the truth about you?
Without those human moments and feelings, all you have are icons, and icons presented without meaning is just dramatic nonsense.
PS: We have my wife to thank for calling me to task on this. She is a lovely and insightful person, and I can’t live without her. But occasionally, I wish she would let me stay ignorant and happy. Haha
It’s funny, because if you swap out John Carter with anyone other than a white adult male, it’s more interesting.
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This discussion is based off of the course video in W102 Gender Stereotypes, Roles, and Identities module. For more information on the course, if you are not a part of it, go here! If you are part of the course, and want a group to help discussion, join the Artists Group here!
The above image was given as an example of diminishing Sue’s place as a woman.
Let’s just table the whole Lee/Kirby authorship altogether. It’s not important for this discussion.
As artists, we are in control of visual nuance and subtle acting in comics. Now, I love Kirby with a fiery passion to rival the pits on Apokolips, but what is being communicated visually here? Without even having to read the words, whose will is more important, who is being shown respect, who has the power? Is what Reed doing consensual, or is he using his physicality to take control of an emotional situation despite the will of his partner? Does Reed’s treatment of Sue get rewarded, or does it have consequences?
Kirby was a master artist, and the visual impact of his imagery is always striking. You cannot ignore skill and craft of this page, but how Kirby applied his skill, in this case, is irresponsible, to say the least. When you are creating your own comics and images, think about what you are saying silently in the body language. Without words, who is winning, and what is that saying?
Just needed to draw something before I imploded yesterday. Really attempting to master my new color pallet, which skews more CMYK than a warm RGB. We’ll see if it sticks. But I liked how this turned out.
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Trying to channel a single image story like Rockwell could. What he could do is illustrate the middle of a story so clearly that you could infer the beginning and the end in your imagination as clearly as if he had drawn those moments too!
Man, I love this series!
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