The Killing Joke and the Batgirl Controversy

Okay guys. Around a month and a half ago, there was a controversy that encompassed the Internet DC Comics was celebrated a month of Joker variants of their comics following one of his sidekick, Harley Quinn. Anyway, one of the covers that featured the main adversary of the caped crusader was that of Batgirl. Now, the current Batgirl is Barbara Gordon, the original Batgirl. This is important because she stopped being Batgirl in 1988 with Alan Moore’s Killing Joke. The Killing Joke is quite the controversial comic book among fans as it the Joker commits pretty disgusting deeds against Barbara Gordon and her father. In the book, the Joker shoots and paralyzes Barbara, strips her naked and takes pictures of her. He then shows those pictures to her father in attempt to break him to the point of insanity in order to prove that anybody can go crazy after “one bad day.” Originally, that book was not considered canon to DC Comics, but elements of it eventually did and for twenty-three years, Barbara was paralyzed and instead of Batgirl worked as Oracle, Batman’s tech-save assistant. In 2011, DC rebooted their entire universe and made Barbara Gordon mobile again. In the New 52 continuity, she was temporally injured, but recovered and returned to the identity of Batgirl. This was also a controversial move as some people liked her as Oracle, believing her to be a champion for disabled fans. There are also people who preferred her successors.

Now, flash forward to 2015. The Joker cover comes up with an image of the Joker and a terrified Batgirl. This was seen by many to be an homage to The Killing Joke, provoking a backlash on Twitter spurring the trending hashtag, #changethecover. DC eventually capitulated and pulled the variant from publication, prompting praise and criticism.

Okay. Opinion time. Personally, I am not a fan of The Killing Joke. I thought it was unnecessary and I didn’t like how it ended Barbara Gordon’s career as Batgirl. I thought some of the stuff in the comic was wrong and I dislike the direction entertainment goes when it tries so hard to push the envelope and be edgy that it’s no longer fun to consume. Alan Moore himself even regrets writing it. But, that said; I don’t think the cover should have been pulled. It’s a variant. Not even the main cover. If somebody wants to buy the issue, they can just buy it in its standard publishing format and enjoy the story. Vote with your dollars people. There is no need for censorship.

Batgirl #41 Joker variant by Rafael Albuquerque

…And Justice For All

Here’s …And Justice For All by Metallica to set the mood.

The Daredevil Netflix series came out a few weeks ago and I recently just finished watching the first season and am suffering from withdrawals. I thought I’d try drawing Daredevil and Matt Murdock so here’s the step to step process of my drawing.

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1. I started off with a sketch and sort of cheated by using the symmetry tool. It can be very useful when you want it to be. I always start off my sketches with a different color other than black. I tend to use lighter colors and sometimes I lower the opacity if I really need to.

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2. I drew over the sketch with a darker outline but the opacity is still pretty low. I always start off with drawing the face and try to get it as similar to the character as much as I can. I actually did not use any reference pictures so it was pretty frustrating. I hope it remotely resembles Charlie Cox’s face haha

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3. I continue outlining with the darker color (still with low opacity so that I can see the sketch underneath). I start drawing the clothes and try to keep it as clean as I can because outlining over super sketchy drawings can be a hassle. Also why are suits so difficult to draw?!

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4. Now I start my real outline with the darker black. This is where making clean lines really counts or else it’ll look gross. Also I just added the beard and the detail in the hair.

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5. I accidentally skipped over the coloring of the skin, but I use the same process for coloring skin, hair and clothes. I start off with solid colors first. Then I use another layer over it with a different brush with is, I guess, sort of bristly. Over my solid base I start shading the outer areas with a much darker shade, then color inside with a really light shade and then fill in the areas with the original shade to smooth it out.  I usually just keep doing this until I think it looks fine.

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Here is the finished product! I thought I’d add a background and as you can see from step 5  to the finished drawing I changed how the scales and sword looked and their placement. I think it looks much better now. I hope you guys like it!

I used Daredevil from the Netflix series and Daredevil belongs to Marvel Comics.

 

Honey and Clover

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The author: Chika Umino

Data: April 2000~ July 2006

Publishing company: Shueisha

This is my favorite girls’ comic. The story is about five art college students in their love triangles and especially unrequited love. Not only their love, but the story also includes graduating from college, finding job, and learning more about themselves.

I think in general girls comics, those characters shows their desire to catch their loved one. However this comics does not have such characters so many, and they always try to find themselves through their love. Compared to other girls’ comics, the mood is embarrassing or uncomfortable because the characters are too innocent. However I think this is the one having such mood and funny scenes with cute drawing.

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And related to this week’s lecture, this author, Chika Umino, did doujin activities before her debt as a comic artist.p1-1

 

Otake culture is getting to be accepted, and publishers find many talented persons.

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Left side images are from their doujinshi, right side images are their original comics. Both artists are from doujin activities. It is clear that doujin is widely accepted and it means people can easily get opportunities to show their abilities. And some official artists do doujin activities after their debt.

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It is interesting to know that some official artists are also fan of something through doujin activities, but I think famous artists could influence (good or bad) on people and media. Dojin is like a tacit agreement, I think getting too much attention could cause being blamed.

“That’s a powerful ponytail, man…”

I thought I would try and show you guys a little peek at my process when drawing with markers. For this drawing I used only Copic Markers (which are wonderful, really!) from rough sketch to colors. I decided to draw Mickey Milkovich from Showtime’s Shameless for this study.

But before I go into that, here is the reference I used for my picture:

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For my initial sketch, I used a light purple color and referenced a screenshot from Showtime’s Shameless. (I decided to draw Mickey Milkovich for this post!)

 

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I forgot to take a picture before I started to add the blue and red on his shirt, but here is basically how I started my quick sketch out. And in all honesty I think the main reason I wanted to draw this was because I just realized that he made pizza rolls and I thought that was funny. :-D (that and I had always assumed he made cookies…)

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Next I start to add some peachy colors for his skin. Mickey has pretty pale skin, so I try to avoid colors that are too dark!

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Afterwards I go right to the face and hair and just use a really dark gray to define his features and flesh out the shape of his hair. Then with a warmer gray I add some contrast to define his shoulders and arms. I also add some messy flat colors to his oven mitt and the tray of pizza rolls!

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Finally I add some fast, sketchy lines for the background. Since I wanted the main focus of this drawing to be Mickey I don’t use a dark color and I don’t put much attention to detail, just roughly draw out where things generally are.

And there we are! :-)

 

Anyways, I hope you guys like to see this! I really enjoy working straight with markers, because I think it is much easier to draw loosely. However, I decided not to use this technique with my comic because I wanted to be able to add focus and definition to particular details in it.

:-D

Ashley

Moving from Hand Drawn to Digital

I touched on it some in class today, but I just wanted to share a little more in depth about my process in going from an initially hand drawn page into a complete digitally illustrated page. I chose not to jump straight to digital right off the bat with my illustrations because even though I love what the drawing tablet can do, for me it still can’t quite mimic perfectly what pen and paper can do. I think with traditional pen and ink there’s more ability to manipulate line weight and texture and it appears less stiff. So even though it took a few extra steps for this method, I think it was well worth it.

This is what I started with, pencil sketch, inked over in felt tipped pen, on regular sketchbook paper:

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To make this into a digital drawing I first I brought it into Photoshop and cleaned up the lines, erasing where you could see pencil and darkening the line where it appeared faint or sketchy in the scan. Then I brought it into Illustrator and was able to convert the black lines to digital vector outlines. Basically this allowed me to isolate just the lines, without the white background, as a single item. Additionally, it allows me to zoom in much farther without the lines appearing pixelated. Then I brought my outlines back into Photoshop to add color. I kept my color on a separate layer so I can change it and play with it as much as I want without messing up the black outlines. I ultimately decided to keep the colors monochromatic because I didn’t want tons of variety in color to complicate the simplicity of the style and storyline. Instead of using color to describe the actual reality of the characters and scenes themselves, I want to manipulate color to create mood and feeling. I chose yellow for the first establishing shots to play into the feeling of warmth, playfulness, and friendship. In the bottom two shots I start to fade the color, as the main conflict begins with the two friends getting separated.

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The Cleaners: Absent Bodies by Mark Wheaton, Joshua Hale Fialkov, and Rahsan Ekedal

The Cleaners was written by Mark Wheaton and Joshua Hale Fialkov with art by Rahsan Ekedal, colors by Joh Graef, and Letters by Michael David Thomas, published by Dark Horse Books in January 2010. The Cleaners is about a for hire team who clean up after bloody and traumatic crime scenes. The leader, an ex-surgeon by the name Robert Bellarmine, guides the team to a link of gruesome crime scene around the Los Angeles area. While cleaning, they find clues around that lead them on a major case about kidnapping people, mostly children, that connects them back to centuries old crimes in that area. While investigating, they try to explain anything they find with scientific evidence, but their case may not be able to explained scientifically at all. They are sent on a supernatural chase to try to disprove historical superstition and uncover this gruesome and disturbing mystery.

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This comic would best be described as a modern horror story with elements of fantasy. When it comes to the art, one of the authors said that the look they wanted for the graphic novel was “to reflect the very solitary and isolated emotions that run through the story while also portraying a startling snapshot of what each character is experiencing personally.” You get the sense of the main character’s emotional instability and loneliness solely from the front cover by its use of a white background and the value of the shadows. The art in the graphic novel also brings the gruesome quality to a different level than the rest of the story by it’s detail, showing each drop of blood splattered across a wall. And going back to the value use, this novel is mostly dark values to convey the darkness and mystery behind the investigation in this story. cleaners

Overall, I really liked how this story brought three different genres, horror, detective, and fantasy, into one great story. The several twists throughout the graphic novel kept the reader on the edge of their seat, while the art helped the reader visualize the traumatic nature of the story.

Comics & Canonizing Public Figures

While I was reading one of the optional readings for this week, Ritu Khanduri’s “Comicology: Comic books as culture in India” I was intrigued by an incident he describes that occurred in Indian popular culture. The episode in question was the tragic explosion of the space shuttle Columbia in 2003. Among the crew members to lose their lives was Indian-American astronaut Kalpana Chawla. Two years after the accident, the long-running Indian comic publisher ACK released an issue detailing Chawla’s life and achievements. Khanduri puts forward the idea that this comic had a direct impact on Chawla’s canonization as an Indian national icon.

What interests me about this story is the direct cultural impact that the comic seemed to have in solidifying Chawla’s status as a national hero. Comics in the United States haven’t had that effect, at least not for a real person. Sure, there are dozens of American national icons that come from the world of comic books, but that’s exactly the point; all of these characters are fictitious. When was the last time that an American comic book caused a real-life activist or some other figure to shoot to the center of public attention? American comics are simply too much of a fiction-oriented industry for comics about real people to gain enough readership to become a cultural icon through comics alone. America seems to lean more toward film or TV dramatizations for building awareness of national heroes. In America, comics are too often skewed toward fantasy for a biographical comic to have the kind of effect the Chawla comic did in India.

The Last Halloween

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Somehow this comic manages to be cute, disturbing, gruesome, funny, relatable and beautiful simultaneously. “The Last Halloween” is a web comic by Abby Howard that is about a group of children, specifically Mona, who go on a quest and try to survive through the supposed last Halloween. A cursed doll, a vampire, a werepossum, a ghoul and a bodiless figure in wraps take Mona under their wing to help her with her current predicament. All of the monsters who used to hide in the shadows are now roaming the world, killing everything in their way because the king, Phagocyte, has been murdered. These monsters live in a parallel universe that use the shadows as portals. Each monster has a human counter part. If their human dies they perish as well, but if they are the one who killed their human then they are granted immortality. The purpose of the Phagocyte is to maintain the balance between the two worlds. Mona’s new friends are not considered monsters, but rather Anomalies. They are on a quest to find the Phagocyte’s son who can take his place to keep the worlds in balance again.

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The art is very Burtonesque in a sense, I feel that it would adapt beautifully into a Tim Burton film. The comic itself is in black and white and is focused heavily on lines. The detail in the panels are mostly found in the creatures and the background, adding a sense of eeriness. The characters themselves look very cartoonish and simple, but are entirely unique in their own ways. Despite being a supernatural and serious comic the dialogue tends to have deadpan humor. What I love about the comic is that it isn’t restricted to actual pages. The panels seep into the black background of the site and creates a much larger scene. Every page and panel is set out differently but share the black backdrop of the site.  Even the fonts in the dialogue of each character is different. It adds to their character and helps set a voice in your head for each one.

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This comic is still being updated, and I can’t wait for the next chapter. I’m falling in love with every character. There is even a bit of social commentary in the comic. Mona’s parent is nonbinary and is called “parent” and uses “they/them” pronouns throughout the comic. Shirley always calls out Dr. Fugue on his misogynistic comments. It’s a fun read and the art is beautiful, I would recommend it to everyone. It’s pretty short too. After reading this its easy to say Mona and Ringley are definitely my favorites.

 

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Author/Artist: Abby Howard

Where you can see her work:

The Last Halloween

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Abby Howard Etsy

Response to Priya’s Shakti

Among the comics we had to read for class this week I must say that I really enjoyed Priya’s Shakti. I really liked it because it was very different from a lot of comics and stories that are out there.

The story combined magic and fantasy with the horrors of real life events that happen in this world every day. I found it to be very empowering and encouraging as being a woman myself it made me realize how much power, intellect and talent us women have to offer the world.

I also realized how much I can take for granted such as being educated let alone college educated. Here where I am from most people go to school, get their degrees and go on with their life. But the part in the story where Priya wanted so desperately to be educated to become a teacher made me think how many people feel that way in many parts of the world and here I am stressing over an exam. I know I am fortunate and blessed. With that being said not only do many people not have that opportunity of getting an education but women have it especially hard. In a lot of cultures women are to keep to their traditional role as homemaker, wife and mother. Yes, women can certainly do that but there is so much more to us. This character Priya had the courage to speak up without shame of what she wants to become though there were many obstacles in her way.

Even though Priya is a comic story chartacter she proves to be so much more than that to so many people. She is powerful and helps give women strength when they need it the most.

Another issue she confronts does not discriminate between different classes but a problem women from all walks of life can relate to, rape.

Priya comes from a part of the world where the victim is shamed, damned and dirty in sexual assault. Though she is the victim who was innocent and helpless, she will be humiliated and frowned upon. But in the western world women can still easily feel that way too. Women can feel it was all their fault and they hold no value. If only in the real world we can call help from a great goddess who gives us power of the divine to help us turn our problems around. But in the end the message that Priya is sending to all women is to search for our own inner power and goddess, get the courage to speak up with no shame and standing for what we believe in because if nobody starts that than it will never take place.

Priya mentions in the story that equality, respect and value of each other make for a stronger society that will have less problems. Humans have so many great qualities and we as a race have so many wonderful things we can do in this world but we are also capable of the most disturbing nightmares. Why these terrible things happen is beyond my comprehension but little by little people can stand up for their rights with respect, dignity and no shame and the world will start going in a more positive direction. Nothing will ever be perfect since perfection does not exist but improvement is just the beginning to a new positive road of life and hopefully it will only get better.