HABIBI

This term, I honestly have enjoyed the lectures. I enjoy learning about the form of comic books, I enjoy discovering new writers/artists and I love analysing graphic novels. I took some notes in the lessons about what types of graphic novels to read as I know that there are some particular types that would inspire me for my own practice. I love the idea of publishing my own graphic novels some time in the future!I’ve read several ones that are new to me recently, but one that stood out to me was called “Habibi” by Craig Thompson.

bfawards11habibi

To be honest, I cannot possibly put into words how beautiful this novel is. The storyline is set in a fictional Islamic country and follows a young Arab girl named Dodola who is born to a poor family and is sold into marriage as a child. Her new husband, a calligrapher, teachers her to read and write before he is killed by terrorists who kidnap Dodola and sell her into child slavery. There, she saves Zam, an abandoned infant boy who is about to be killed by terrorists because he is too young to be useful and more crucially, black.

They escape to the desert where Dodola raises Zam for several years, by feeding him food in exchange for prostitution with travellers. The two children eventually become separated for a number of years and the book follows them finding each other again.

Apart from being an enchanting, beautiful story, it focuses on many other issues such as racism, classism, sexism, identity and poverty. At over 600 pages of finely detailed drawings, I could literally drool over the pages forever!

21246714intro426

Advertisements

PORTRAYAL OF QUEER WOMEN OF COLOUR IN COMICS

Comic books, more specifically, superhero ones are often misogynistic towards females. We are often depicted as some sort of sidekick, sex object with massive boobs and a skimpy uniform. And this is only the treatment of straight, white women.

Across the world of graphic novels, both LGBT women and women of colour struggle to make a positive appearance. Now don’t get me wrong, my illustration style focuses mostly on women who are also sexualised but I believe in body positivity and my characters OWN their sexuality. As a bonus, I also tend to illustrate queer women of colour because it is what I identify with.

People like me are rarely ever portrayed and I do believe that representation is important, especially for the younger generation.

I could make a blog post complaining about how unfortunate it is and how it’s not fair, etc, etc, but I don’t really want to. It’s starting to get boring, discussing the same topic incessantly with little progress being made. So instead, here is a comic strip I did for a session that Dr Monalesia kindly inspired me with (about gender and sexuality):

17273908_1485228278178131_847550071_o copy

In terms of my identity, I tend to feel very grey, I seem to belong to some sort of fuzzy area in between two opposites.

We live in a society where certain groups of people are starting to get together and support each other, particularly gay and coloured females. However, I have been in positions where these groups don’t believe that I share their struggle and ultimately, I feel cast out. Obviously I do have some privileges, I am fair skinned and I can date men if I want to. But I still feel the same way about these issues as any “fully” black or “fully” gay woman would.

 

However, I am not ashamed of who I am. While I do have my struggles, I embrace every fraction of me, which adds up to make me the woman that I am.

Categories, Stereotypes and Caricatures

So there are differences between “types” and “stereotypes”.

A type basically is a widely recognised characterisation and “change” is kept to a minimum.

A stereotype exaggerates a person’s traits and reduces a person to their “traits”.

One example of a stereotype we looked at was Vicky Pollard from British show “Little Britain”.

563527-379678e0-6092-11e4-a822-f0e45dcacc2e

Vicky Pollard is a teenager from a council estate, with kids from different fathers and several ASBOs. She is uneducated, illiterate and has a bad attitude. She was created by David Walliams and Matt Lucas, a pair of middle class white males, which makes people wonder if it’s their place to portray and make fun of somebody that lacks the privileges they enjoy.

We also talked about Physiognomy, which is assessing somebody’s character by their facial features.

simmsjosgalleryfaces

For example, a person with a profile that slopes is supposed to be less smart than somebody with quite a straight profile. Someone with a round face is nurturing, while someone with a wide forehead is intelligent. Long front teeth means that somebody is stubborn, and so on.

Old stereotypical beliefs have stuck with us today, however. While our society is more diverse and open minded, we still exaggerate the characteristics of somebody’s looks and lifestyle.

2000AD – Cartoon Museum

Tucked away in a quiet spot within a bustling part of London, The Cartoon Museum is an intimate gallery that manages to squeeze in more than I expected.

The gallery itself was nice and cosy, with coat lockers, seating areas, comics to browse through and a children’s section upstairs, where they were provided with pencils and paper. I nosed through some of the kid’s comic art sections and political satire, but what I was most focused on was the 2000AD exhibition.

2000AD is a British comic book anthology which produced it’s first publication in 1977. America was always the leading force when it came to comic books and 2000AD was a good way to gain some British artists some coverage.Many independent artists came together to contribute their work. Some artists stood out to me.

ballad-of-halo-jones-book-3

354585-176027-halo-jones

I really liked the art style of Ian Gibson’s “Halo Jones” comic strip, with the detailed features of the characters and the beautiful use of colour.

slainecovercolourrected

slainespread1

I also liked the distinctive work of Simon Davis who illustrates “Slaine”, with the use of texture and angular brush strokes.

There were so many drawings displayed to take in, which started to merge together after a while, as all comic book panels look similar at a quick glance. I did have to go round twice to appreciate each artist individually. I always find it nice to be able to admire comic strips up close, to see where speech bubbles have been stuck on or pencil marks that have been erased. It’s important for aspiring artists like myself to see the work process of the more established ones.

Overall, it was a nice little exhibition, I suppose more aimed at those who have a love for comics or are fans of 2000AD. While it’s not exactly a day out and more of a way to kill half an hour, I would recommend that people who can appreciate comic art check it out every now and then (as the exhibits are always changing).

16709271_1452431401457819_1944123822_o

Making Medusa Beautiful

For my project, since I’ve been looking at both Greece and Ghana, I thought about the link between Medusa and hair.

Hair is important in African culture. We take pride in styling our hair and we always have done. We like to protect our hair from the harsh elements for practicality, but we also do it to be pampered. Females bond with one another, we do each other’s hair. Only trusted family and friends do each other’s hair. African hair braiding is an art form.

hair-cover

Even in ancient African civilisations, hairstyles could indicate what tribe or family a person is from. It was important to style hair as a way of grooming and only “mad” people or those who were mourning didn’t do their hair.

medusa_caravaggio

Medusa is known to be ugly, so why not give her a beautiful African hairstyle?

FLUID EXPLORATION – OIL INSTALLATION

I went to the Saatchi Gallery to see Richard Wilson’s 20:50 installation, which is literally a room full of oil. I didn’t know what to expect and I still didn’t know what I made of it when I actually saw it.

richard_wilson_doy

I did expect it to smell odd for some reason, but the air was odourless. I also didn’t expect it to look this pristine. If I didn’t know it was oil, I would have thought that it was some sort of solid object.

It worked for my project – it showed oil merging with architecture and how the oil adapted itself to the angular shape of the room. Oil never fails to make me curious.

FLUID EXPLORATION INSPIRATION

One of the artists that influenced me for my final piece was somebody by the name of CAOH. Looking at his work, I believe that it explores the technicalities of motion which relates with my own concept.

http://www.mrcaoh.com

Here is one of his pieces named Balance. He says “Balance in symmetry, beauty in coherence.”

Screen Shot 2017-02-08 at 14.30.30.png

I love the style. It’s dark, it’s mysterious and it’s beautifully made. He also creates enchanting soundtracks for them which influenced me to create my own sound.

One of my favourite pieces by him is called Fluid Mechanics. It’s a longer clip with an eerie soundtrack. The movement is well done and very fluid, the animation seems alive.

Screen Shot 2017-02-08 at 00.16.46.png

Comic Books and Genres

Today we did a lot of discussion on genres of comic books and how and why they are relevant.

I’m going to say that the most obvious comic genres would be:

  • Action
  • Fantasy
  • Manga
  • Superhero
  • Sci-Fi
  • Horror
  • Comedy
  • Reality Based

The class brought in an array of different comic books to discuss, so it was nice to see what everybody else is interested in. I brought in my copy of Suicide Squad (Volume 1, DC Comics). The basic plot is that a group of super-villains are gathered from prison and sent on missions to lose some time off their sentences. Being quite modern, it merges traditional aspects of the comic book with newer ideas, which gives it a combination of genres: action, comedy, crime, sci-fi all could be used to describe Suicide Squad.

gallerychar_1920x1080_suicidesquad_nss_cv1_558b6823117d44-83753997

We then went on to look at comic books and ethnic stereotypes or “Orientalism”. Orientalism is essentially just the European’s viewpoint of other countries and many older comic books demonstrate this.

Moebius is an example of this. Moebius (real name Jean Giraud) was a French comic artist and one of my all time favourite artists. His art style is beautiful, the lines are crisp and detailed and he draws vast landscapes in unnatural colours within sci-fi/fantasy genres. However, the plots to some of his storylines are typically Western, where the Europeans arrive at some sort of foreign land and end up helping the natives. The westerners usually have knowledge and technology aplenty, while the natives are generally clueless and backwards.

moemoe

jean-giraud-aka-moebius-hunter1

We then went on to reading the Asterix Comics. Being quite dated, they are full of racial stereotypes – the Jews are money grabbers, Black people were drawn looking like gorillas, the Arabs are primitive. It’s amazing what we used to be able to get away with and what we still can get away with!

 

Is Fashion Racist?

Today’s session focused on fashion in the western world and the workers that slave for hours and hours per day just to earn a small fraction of what the big businesses own. It may be 2016, but fashion still isn’t available for everybody equally. Even in more developed countries, we feel as if certain looks are favoured over others.

From billboards, to tv advertisements, the world is blessed with the faces of many models. However, the selection lacks diversity, even in this day and age. Catwalk models still have a disappointingly low number of people of colour. On average, about 20% of catwalk models chosen for shows are of ethnic minority.

Historically, the most desirable model would be rich, white and thin. It has always been this way because this group of people are thought to be the only ones interested in fashion. To be fair, this may be true to a certain extent if you’re too busy worrying about other things, such as being poor and black – which isn’t easy in a rich and white world.

Black British model, Jourdan Dunn once said that “people in the industry say if you have a black face on the cover of a magazine it won’t sell”. She has also been turned away from castings in the past because the directors said that they had enough black people. It seems that the majority of shows, even today, only have a small selection of people of colour, just to appear to be politically correct.

Just to prove a point, I googled “fashion shows” just to see a broad selection. Sure enough however, an array of white faces popped up.

maxresdefault

Versace Fashion Show
Ready to Wear, Spring Summer 2011landscape-1443716375-hbz-ss2016-balmain-index2

(spot the token black girl at the back)

References:

Freeman, H. (2014) Why black models are rarely in fashion. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/feb/18/black-models-fashion-magazines-catwalks (Accessed: 04 December 2016).

Hoskins, T. (2014) Stitched Up. London: Pluto Press.