I’ve finally taken it upon myself to upgrade my workspace in some fashion, and yesterday I assembled and set up my new drafting table. It’s bigger than the old one, and has a glass surface instead of cardboard (it originally had a wooden surface, but it was too scratched-up to use). The lamp underneath the table allows it to double as a light box, which is something I rarely use, but it will be nice to have the ability now. I also bit the bullet and ordered some more bristol board, which I will now use for Sunrise as well as Realm. That’s a new page of Sunrise you can see on the table. In summation, good improvements all around… hopefully they’ll have a positive effect on the work!
Well, it’s been another year. Sunrise officially began on February 12th, 2008, when this horrible-looking page was posted to the then-very-rough website I’d set up at the time. (The cover of Issue 1 appears to have been posted the day before, but was actually posted somewhat later, with the date adjusted to ensure correct position in the archive.) Now, some 230 pages later, it seems like a good time to look back and see what I’ve learned from this little experiment.
Technically I read this last year. The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon is a much, much different book than King Lear, so a different kind of illustration presented itself. This one’s a bit more like a book cover, too. I dunno. It was hard to think of something appropriate for this book. On a side note, hands are too hard to draw.
Media: Pigment liners with digital color
For purposes of practice and portfolio-expanding (and my interest in projects like Picture Book Report), I have challenged myself to create an illustration for every book I read this year. The first book I finished was my re-read of Shakespeare’s King Lear. Thus:
Ink and watercolor with minor digital modification.
Lots of updates to the site.
First and foremost is Flashlight, the photo series formerly known as Glimpse. The entire series is online now, so do check it out. (I hope to make a “behind-the-scenes” post at a later time.)
Also note the new header, in which I experiment with the logo I designed recently (never before seen online).
Oh, and there’s a new page of Sunrise too. Read it >
After my final critique with my professor I will post the final lineup of images from the project online. In the meantime, here is a sneak preview:
I recently learned of the Bechdel Test, a three-part test used on works of fiction to determine how well its female characters are developed and integrated. It was devised by none less than Alison Bechdel, author of the remarkable graphic memoir Fun Home (which you should read if you haven’t yet). There’s already an entire website devoted to evaluating movies with the test, but of course my immediate concern was how well my own works would fair under scrutiny.
The test is as follows: A work must have (1) two or more female characters (2) who talk to each other (3) about something besides a man. Sounds simple enough! Let’s see how I fare.
Sunrise. (1) Yes. (2) Yes. (3) Yes. Verdict: Pass! There are a few examples, mostly from Issue 4, but some from other issues as well. Still, it couldn’t hurt to try harder, as I do notice that these examples are few and far between.
Realm (1) No. Verdict: Fail. Back to the drawing board for Realm. Luckily, I haven’t plotted out the entire book yet so there’s still plenty of time to revise.
Zirconius. (1) No. Verdict: Fail. This is not an entirely fair application of the test though, as the Zarks are basically genderless. Still, they are referred to with male pronouns so I suppose this still counts as a violation.
Let’s look at some recent short stories (not available online, unfortunately).
“Imagine the Violin.” (1) No. Verdict: Fail. Only one female character, and she’s going insane. Sigh.
“Constance.” (1) Yes. (2) Yes. (3) Yes. Verdict: Pass! A story about two women who talk to each other, and only briefly about a man! As clear a pass as anyone could want.
“Real Space Experience.” (1) Yes. (2) No. Verdict: Fail. Quite a few female characters, but they never speak to each other. Granted, there isn’t a whole lot of dialogue in the story, but it’s still a violation.
Let’s look at a few other things.
Barnacle Bert in “Hands Up, Jellyfish!” Oh, no. You can’t be serious. Ah well, here goes: (1) No. Verdict: Fail. But– but–two of the jellyfish are female, and they’re talking! I think! No, wait, if they are talking they’re probably talking about Bert. Argh. Well, at least the anglerfish is female.
The Violinist. (1) No. Verdict: Fail. Having a female protagonist is not enough to pass the test.
Remnants. Some of you may recall this novel from a few years ago, which was available online for a while. Let’s see how it fares: (1) Yes. (2) Yes. (3) Yes. Verdict: Pass! Finally. Flawed as this book may be, my brief foray into it just now yielded three Bechdel-Test-worthy conversations. Yena, the female protagonist, talks to Mrs. Tamila (a grouchy customer), Rimel (an utter imbecile), and Morica (the villain). All loathsome characters, unfortunately.
Just to round out the number to an even ten, we’ll look at “Lander,” my astronaut story that probably a few of you have seen. (1) No. Verdict: Fail. Sigh.
So, to summarize:
Works examined: 10
Works passing Bechdel Test: 3
More photographs from the project.
Some of you may remember my photograph series from last summer, “Glimpse.” (An ugly title which I’m unfortunately stuck with until I can think of a better one. Suggestions welcome.) In the coming months I’ll be working on a continuation of that series as an independent study. Though the planning and preparation stage is not actually complete yet, I’ve already staged two photography sessions in the UConn darkroom. Though my main goal was to practice the technique, either of these images could easily be used in the series as well. Have a look: