Today’s blog takeover is by Alyssa Wiswall
(Alyssa, your art is wonderful. You ****ing GO girl. You burn brightly and you never stop.)
I feel like I should add some context to these images, because I do feel like they are relevant, for me at least (you might not care about this, and that’s honestly fine). But because of this commentary, could you actually look at the pictures before you read this part? They should be at the very bottom of the email:
1. “Han Mi: Lost In The Flow of Narrative”: Of the 3, this one’s definitely my favorite, which is weird because it’s more simple than the others, using only pen and ink, but whatever. This one was made first as a part of the Inktober Day prompt “flowing.” I was trying to challenge myself with these various prompts and when it came time to do flowing, I instantly knew what I wanted to do: I just pictured Han Mi surrounded by this sort of flow, not exactly water, but enough so where you could feel her sense of feeling overwhelmed, like she’s drowning. I imagine that this “flow” that I drew represented the “flow of narrative,” because whenever your characters talk about how post-humans and narratives work, I hear lines like “surfing narratives like waves,” “we swam it all did we,” so I picture the way narrative in your world works much like water does. To better explain what I mean, picture this: timelines, no, narratives, are like a river, flowing in one constant direction and heading towards its destination indefinitely, but I see it more like how an actual body of water works, rivers don’t just go straight in one direction all of the time, they can turn jagged and rough with the current being too slow one moment and then fast enough to drag you down the next (because Raven mentioned how flowering isn’t easy and how it can destroy people), they can branch off and go in various directions (different stories or narratives), they could thin out into streams, crash into the vast ocean, end calmly in a small pool or lake, or careen down a waterfall (forgive me if I’m getting ahead of myself). And like the halo around Han’s head (like Byzantine art) shows, she is enlightened, has become a post-human, and she’s treading rough water right now, she has to be careful, or she could drown in the power, be overwhelmed.
Fun fact: an alternate title for this was “The Hall of Mirrors” because I was listening to that song while I drew this for inspiration. It was also really hard to draw her because the designs I used for reference for these were Sarah De Buck’s, which I consider to be the canonical versions, but she has several images of each of your characters with slight variations in their outfit designs, so with each of these pieces I just ended up combining all of the outfits I found to make whatever I thought would look good. Also, Sarah’s style is very different from my own, with her’s being a bit more anatomy oriented whilst I tend to revel in more exaggerated and cartoonish designs on par with “Steven Universe” or “Hazbin Hotel,” so it was really hard to draw her face. I kept redrawing it over and over until I got it right, it was probably her eyes, my eyes are usually round and cartoonish, while hers where proportionate to the face and almond shaped, which threw me off.
2. “Helen’s Lament” (seriously Paul, WTF): I made Helen’s next. Initially, this was just going to be a pen and ink drawing for Inktober also, following the prompt for “broken” (and if that don’t suit Helen, then I don’t know what does), but it quickly evolved into me using a variety of materials: markers, pen and ink, colored pencils, pencil, and the godly gift that is an ebony pencil (yeah, this one definitely took the longest (maybe several weeks because I was so caught up with homework). There was a purpose to this mixed media; behind Helen, in the background in the tube that holds what I imagine is Mary, is the image of the old cabaret, which was done in colored pencils, I did this to make it look dreamy, an illusion, not solid, because that’s what the cabaret was, a simulation, a fake reality. And branching from the middle, from Helen’s throat, is a series of cracks in this illusion, because the cast knows the truth now, that their lives are a lie. So, the rest of the background, the labyrinth that is under New Albion, is done in markers, purposely drawn really solid and sharp, intense and harsh like their reality (I also included a few squiggly/wavy patterns at the border between the cabaret and the lab to create a distortion effect (a glitch in the matrix if you will, because honestly, that’s what happened in Lost Hollow, right? Also because it was in the album cover for act 3 so… yeah). I don’t know if this was intentional, but I love how Sarah made the covers for acts 1 and 3 orange and blue respectively, two complimentary/opposite colors, as if to say that these two settings are such polar opposites and contrast each other to strongly that they reject each other, also how the sun in the background of act 1 turned out to be the presence of the AI pulling the strings (like seriously, it’s little details like that that just pump me up). So with this picture, it makes the false image of the cabaret behind her look like it doesn’t even belong here (which probably reflects Helen’s feelings). And on the subject of Helen’s feelings, it’s no coincidence that I made the source of the cracks coming from Helen’s throat where there is a red X marking where (I believe) she killed herself by slitting her throat, signifying how this “home” of hers is cracking and crashing down with her (too dark? Well this musical was dark, so deal with it!). There’s also a broken teacup on the floor because I recall reading someplace you mentioning how her and Mary were having a tea party in act 3 and I imagine that she broke that in order to use it to kill herself (seriously Paul, I don’t think I will ever recover from that). Fun fact: I titled this piece “Helen’s Lament” because this is what I imagine was happening during that song, this picture is an interpretation of that scene. Truthfully, I wasn’t as satisfied with this one as I was with Han’s, though I’m not sure why, I think it might be because I feel like I didn’t draw Helen accurately, specifically the shape of her face (because I’m so used to drawing with sharp angles and exaggerations of the human anatomy, it’s hard to draw someone with smoother, more natural features). Also, like I mentioned before, scanning this caused color and blurriness problems, which was the most straining on this one, so the colors didn’t come out quite right, especially after I adjusted the blurriness and it totally messed with the color, giving Helen’s skin a yellow tint and muddling the background a bit. The scanner also wasn’t big enough to fit the entire length of my sketchbook, so technically the image I sent you wasn’t the whole thing (but you’re not missing much). I did my best to fix this, but I’m no miracle worker.
3. “Uncle Raven and the Floozies” (this is the last one, I swear): Last, but certainly not least– Raven and the Floozies! (Yay! I low key love the Floozies, and frankly, I think they can do a lot better than Raven, but whatever). I decided not to go as crazy with Raven’s as I did with Helen’s (because that took FOREVER), using mainly just pen and ink and markers, restricting myself to a limited palette of black, white, and purples (Raven’s signature color). As you can see, I reincorporated the idea of the “flow of narrative” from Han’s picture, but instead of making it look like rushing water, I found myself making it look more like smoke (which makes sense, Raven’s a seedy and mysterious kind of guy, plus he’s a showman, so I was picturing this being like some sort of smokescreen used while he makes an entrance). Plus, his use of his power and his overall demeanor is more like smoke, he’s elusive, he’s hard to grasp, he’s flighty, he’s self-indulgent, he’s a creep, it just seemed to suit him too well. He was kind of hard to draw, admittedly, and not just because, like with Han’s, I was sifting through countless different designs of him, mixing and matching them together to find one that worked, but also because I personally have a really hard time drawing men, I don’t know what it is about the male anatomy that eludes me, but it does. Because I’m used to drawing women and curves, whenever I draw men it’s like I’m drawing a wooden board. Despite the odds, I manage to pull off drawing Raven’s body… but his face became a problem (and not just cause I hate is face (not really, but you get my point)). Because in every image of Raven’s face that I found (again, mostly Sarah’s because I consider it to be canon), his facial features were in some weird balance between being handsome and… not (if this makes any sense that way I’m wording it, if not, sorry). Because, in my opinion, Raven’s not “conventionally attractive” (yeah supper judgey, I know). He’s an “out-there” kind of guy, so I tried to keep that in mind while drawing his face. But here’s the problem: no matter what I did, I kept making him look… GOOD. Downright sexy even. But that wasn’t what I was going for. I was like, “Damn it! Stop making him look conventionally attractive! He looks like a hunk of chiseled dark chocolate hand-crafted by the gods!” … Forget I said that. But you get the point. I know that’s a really weird complaint to have, but it just bothered me. Moving on: the Floozies! I… had absolutely no idea what to do with them. I mean, I knew that I wanted them in there, because Raven always has his Floozies crowding around him, bending to his very need (hopefully not like that) and serving as his back-up or entourage. But I had NOTHING to go off of for their designs. As far as I could tell, there isn’t any “canon designs” for them, so I tried doing a little research on any information you’d ever given on them to work with; all I could tell was that there are dozens of floozies, with the original 12 being my focus, who are all a hive mind, but at the time of drawing it, I had no idea if they were clones and looked exactly the same or if each one looked different. But now that I think about it, chances are they all look relatively the same with differences in outfits, but that didn’t help the fact that I still didn’t know what Violet, the original floozy looked like, but I can’t change it now, so I have three girls who each look different, so I’m really on the fence about their designs (they way you do describe the Floozies kind of reminds me of Unity from “Rick and Morty” or Troy Walsh from “Welcome to Night Vale” and I guess I was just thinking of that when drawing them). But I will admit, I am proud of the outfits I gave them. The Floozies I chose were Harmony, Rhythm, and Melody, mainly because they were described as being Raven’s back-up singers, and based their designs off of the brief character and job synopsis that were mentioned (Harmony: diva (is that really a job? Hopefully she does well at it.), Rhythm: dancer, and Melody: actress). Fun fact: I was proud of the text for Raven’s name, it just look nice, which I based of of “The Story-time Theater” cover. Also, the purple background emulates the image of Aphrodite emerging from a shell in the ocean at her birth (I don’t know why, I just though it was funny). Now I’m just picturing Raven trying to play up being Aphrodite or something like that. I’ll leave you with that comforting image as I bid you adieu.