|I was very honored to be asked to do a cartoon of |
Fanny Cornforth for the wonderful (and very funny)
Kirsty Walker for the revised edition of her book,
This past year has been a pretty rough one for me. While doing the odd illustration job over the years (and most of my illustration jobs are decidedly odd ) I've held a steady day-job at Borders for 17 years. Yup, that long. Borders at the beginning was a great place for creative types to work and have health insurance and steady paychecks...
Unfortunately that all changed and we all know what happened to Borders as a company.
And we can't say we didn't see it coming. And no, it isn't because people don't like books anymore. But I'll keep that rant for other another forum.
I was fortunate enough to find a new job at a used book store (soooo much better) and a smaller apartment for less rent. As I continued to do my usual color paintings and my webcomic, "Heaven and the Dead City" http://www.co2comics.com/pages/co2_heaven_and_the_dead_city.html (shameless plug and the subject of a future post) I was in desperate need of some silliness after the stress and upheaval of the past year. My recreational activities usually involve drawing in my sketchbook-- stuff that only I will see and would be too embarrassed to show anyone else.
The Pre-Raph Cartoons nearly stayed there if not for the prodding of some curious friends (you know who you are) who I worked with at Borders who were also Pre-Raphael-philes. (Um... is that even a word? Oh, who cares.) Anyway. They asked me to put them up on Facebook and we all got a few chuckles.
Then the awesome Grace Nuth saw them and this happened. http://thebeautifulnecessity.blogspot.com/2011/08/this-will-make-your-day.html
Over the past year, I had been a fan of and was rapturously reading many Pre-Raphaelite blogs online (many you will find in the upper right column of this blog). Lurking is probably a better word, since I was too shy most of the time to get involved in the topics and conversations. One of my favorites was Grace Nuth's The Beautiful Necessity http://thebeautifulnecessity.blogspot.com/ because, among other lovely things devoted to the Pre-Raph world, it was so "Topsy-and-Ned" oriented (and we all know I have a fondness for these two guys.)
Maybe it was an omen of things to come, but I friended Grace on Edward Burne-Jones' birthday. The response to these ridiculous pencil drawings was overwhelming (Grace, being VERY cool, has a LOT of readers) and I couldn't remain a shy lurker anymore. Thank goodness.
One of the things I've always missed about being in college was being around people with similar interests to talk about the things we all liked--- be it art, movies, music, whatever. You had no trouble finding a kindred spirit somewhere. I joined a comic book club in college (I was the only female--a good and bad thing, I suppose) and met a lot of creative geeks like myself. Later, when I hung around people who actively worked in the comic book industry in the early '90's, there was a similar vibe. A type of community of like minds.
Working at a bookstore was the closest thing I could come to the sort of environment that I sorely missed. However, by putting up the cartoons on the Internet and having people actually see them and enjoy them brought me in touch with a lot of new friends who liked the same sort of things I did. We could share pictures and stories and have conversations and discussions... And after feeling artistically isolated, I feel like I'm part of a creative community again.
Maybe even.... A Sisterhood. (Granted, this Sisterhood also includes Brothers.)
I was especially taken by the concept of a Pre-Raphaelite Sisterhood and especially Stephanie Pina's wonderful website and FB page. http://preraphaelitesisterhood.com/ The focus was on the ladies. And it was about time.
The ladies involved with the Pre-Raphaelite movement often were (understandably) very frustrated-- Victorian England wasn't an easy place for a woman, especially if she had any artistic or "bohemian" leanings. Maybe that's why I started drawing the Pre-Raph cartoons, to have fun with everyone (male and female) trying to get out of their stodgy restrictions.What would happen if they talked with one another in a 21st Century way?
I always like to tell the story of how I drew the following cartoon during a blackout during this past summer... by candlelight. How goth.
I had read that Lizzie Siddal and Georgie Burne-Jones had wanted to collaborate on a book of fairy tales and this tragically never happened due to Lizzie's death. However, I wished it had happened as it might have begun a true Pre-Raphaelite Sisterhood, in which the Pre-Raphaelite women collaborated with each other on projects not unlike what their husbands, brothers and lovers were doing in the PRB.
In recent years there has been a surge of women creators in the comic book industry (as well as best-selling female characters) but it wasn't too long ago when a woman in comics would hear the frequent phrase, "Chick books don't sell." And that was the basis for this cartoon. (Plus my friend Stefan wanted to see Christina Rossetti as Gabriel's moody "goth" sister.)
(In reality, however, Rossetti was actually very supportive of female artists--maybe a little too supportive. His mentor, Ford Madox Brown, actively taught female students who were otherwise shunned by the male-dominated art academies.)