Exploring the theme stereotypes in graphic illustration

For my first  self-initiated project, I wanted to take a closer look at the theme of visual representation. By this, I mean visually capturing the characteristics of someone on paper.

Since character archetypes are very evident in all types of graphic narratives, I wanted to analyse this subject by putting it into practice myself.

i plan to spend the time I have on this project practicing characterization and also analyse the theme of stereotypes in graphic art, to see how much of a influence they have on the media.

these are some of the digital sketches that I’ve done to better understand this topic.

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Posted by on May 21, 2017 in Uncategorized


The Cartoon Museum: Future shock, 40 years of 2000 AD

With Steve Marchant curating the exibition, I took a look at what the Future shock exibition offered in terms of content (of course) As well as a insiders perspective  to the type of content that was displayed into the museum itself.

As the title suggests, the works focuses on the Sci-Fi Genre of comics, displaying works from the likes of Dave Gibbons (Green Lantern and watchmen), Brian Bollard, Carlos Ezquerra (Judge Dredd). I can list everyone there, but it would honestly take up the entire blog post!

The aspect i wad drawn towards was indeed the earlier depictions of Dredd, illustrated by Ezquerra himself back in 97 for Dredd’s 1st appearance “2000 AD”. I wanted to snap some quick pics, but I’ve chosen to respect the copyright rules for this one (and just this once), besides, security was tight!

Ezquerra was (and still is) a Grandmaster at visualising futuristic western dystopia as seen in the many Dredd comics he help create. The atmosphere being kept as sharp as the deep jet black that was not only used for the type, but also for Dredd’s character. Most notably, his suit. Nothing seems out of place as far as the illustration goes. For a comic book, it does seem a bit too artsy, to say the least. That’s not a bad thing in the slightest.

In the movies however, the grittiness of the situation is captured by how dark and eyre everything is. Just shows you how ‘clean cut’ Ezquerra art style is.

Get it? Clean Cut. Because Judge Dredd has alot of violence and gore….?
In the illustrations, every aspect of Dredd’s character is messaged to the viewer in a clean way, from his badge, to his Lawgiver Mk.II, showcasing Dredd in all his originality.

With people who are not familiar with these type of characters,this exibition showcases the ‘bronze age’ of the characters that are presented to readers for the first time.

Any who, although the exibition was quite small, it was well crafted. Work and concepts for Tharg, the Mighty (who can kick Thor’s at anytime of day) and the likes of Nicolai Dante were also present along with many other ‘bronze age’ Comic book icons.

The exibition serves as a reminder to the great relics of the past, while also reintroducing itself to younger audiences, so they to can have a taste, or rather a read, of the past.

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Posted by on March 14, 2017 in Uncategorized


Stereotypical representation in Graphic narritive: East vs the West

Character portrayal functions differently between the east and the West coast. Graphic  narritive can serve as a great platform to create loveable, plausible and in depth characters, however, there are no instructions to follow in order to create a good character in this medium and illustrators form their characters by manipulating one variable drastic lyrics to lay down the foundation for character development. That factor is stereotypes!

Stereotypes play a massive role in character formation no matter how intense or subtle and the manipulation of that factor can determine a characters future, as far as development goes.

Let’s take superman for example. We all know him, slick hair, overpowered abilities, wants to protect man kind, yada, yada.but if you remove the costume, he is no longer superman. Over years of reading visuals, viewers have become accustomed to associating purpose with image, assuming that appearance is connected with who a character is or what they stand for. 

This is especially the case with minor or villain characters. The evil French guy with the sinister moustache or the bad guy who looks like his mommy dosnt love him (Or her).

Character stereotypes is inevitable as well as nessasary, mainly because it is the key to making characters instantly relatable and refer able to readers. Readers would be more invested if they are reading a character they can relate to. However, Minor Characters in western comics end up in the habit of being overly stereotyped to server as a ‘filler’ character, which acts as a stepping stone for the main characters succsess. This in turn leaves no room for development, because their image is stereotyped so much, that readers can guess what their character represents, because the visualisation of the character gives it away. 

If one of my characters is a black guy, who is a criminal, that ALWAYS has a weapon with him, you would automatically assume that he’s a lowlife  (and rightly so). This in turn will make you forget about the character because he serves more as a plot device then a character. All the characterisation is locked within his appearance. 

This is apparent for Western Graphic Narritives, but for Eastern Graphic narritive (most notably manga), they take a diffrent approach. 

Ever heard of the saying that ‘all Asians look the same’? (I ment no offense by that, seriously).in Japanese art, they take this concept, and mix it into their narritive. Most asain characters share simular facial traits and more noticeably, hair styles (that being spiky-ish hair). This may sound strange as a concept, but as a result, manga creators can focus more of the narritive and how that narritive shapes the characters they create, rather then creating the characters to drive the narritive forward. 

A lot of Oriental main characters may look simular, but because viewers have become accustomed to the generic look of manga characters, creators can use their characters as a ‘Blank Canvas’, creating their character through changing the narritive. Characters can turn from being morally strong to mentally unstable like Light from death note, from a feature that is placed within the narritive. The chance in narritive in turn, changes the characters appearance. Injuries and scars for example are a product of a tough battle a character had to go through and can serve as a good remember for when the narritive took a sharp turn in its storytelling.

This is a good technique to use and a safe technique to use when developing a character. Character development becomes a tree, with many branches to venture down. Of course the downside to this is a lack of stereotypical visualisation because as I mentioned before, creators use the concept of Asians looking simular to each other.

I beleieve there needs to be a balance to this sort of thing. It allows viewers to be reminded of what the character stands for, but use the development and the narritive to stretch and test the limitations of a characters values and morals. Don’t get me wrong though,those ways that are mentioned before are great ways to create a character. Because of it, there are alot of creative characters out there. I just believe that it’s not the only way to create a truly unique character.

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Posted by on March 14, 2017 in Uncategorized


Autobiographic Narratives: Maus

Maus. The autobiographic narrative that documents the experiences of the Jewish community during the second world war, depicting the characters as mice.

This is a perfect example of autobiographic novels and the techniques that can be used to present autobiographies in the medium of graphic narratives.

Maus centers around author and cartoonist  Art Spiegelman, interviewing his father about his experiences as a Polish Jew and Holocaust survivor, as well as some of the events that transpired.

Don’t get me wrong, Maus is a incredibly successful piece, but i’m not here to focus on its success entirely. moreover, i want to look into the graphical techniques that set the foundation of the biography and raise the question, are comics a great medium to use for autobiographies?

sure Spiegelman is a cartoonist, but due to the intensity of the topic at hand, he could of easily done a documentary to capture more realism right?


there are pros and cons when it comes to documenting a autobiography. its just that Spiegelman utilizes those variable that make taker away from his graphic, and use them to make his work and Maus a better piece overall.

The main concern about autobiographies in general revolves around how much information one needs and how much one can get. there are already a number of variables that factor in to how much information can be retrieved for a autobiography. if the recipient remembers an event or if they feel comfortable sharing the information are just some of many hurdles that need to be overcome.

having said this, emphasis on detailing can cause harm to the content of the autobiography, especially in a graphic narrative. keep in mind that  graphic narrative is made up partly of images to illustrate the situation or event. if that feature is taken away, it might as well be a book then a graphic. too much detailing would be too difficult to document in a medium like graphics because you wouldn’t have enough space to fit in so much detail.

autobiographical comics would be too thick and worse of all, readers wont be that invested in the minor details, especially from this medium. hence why Spenglerian choose this medium to document his farther’s experiences.

In a graphic narrative, small and unclear details in a autobiography can be covered with the “Graphic” or “Imagery” aspect of the narrative. Spiegelman demonstrates this by depicting race and cultural groups as differing species of animals. The Jewish are portrayed as mice, Germans as cats, Americans as dogs, English as fish, French as frogs etc.

The personification in terms of character has been simplified down, mainly because Spiegelman father cant remember the detailing of everyone during his experiences and saw different people as groups. this was a good way to categorize characters as well as what they (Mostly) stood for. cats are the predators of mice and this portrayal is meant to symbolism not only that, but how much more dominant the Germans were at the time. on top of this, other characterization of groups in Maus is a cultural reference. English for Fish and chips, French for frog legs, Americans for Hot-Dogs etc.

using the imagery to cover the small details, Spiegelman can now focus on the event rather then crafting characters, environments and situations to invest the reader into. this brings up the situation if how much information Spiegelman can place into Maus.

considering that the format would be in the layout of a graphic book, a “Goldilocks” sweet spot will have to have been found in order to get the most richness in terms of content into Maus. Too much and the reader wouldn’t be as interested. in addition, it would be too much information to work with in terms of giving the auto biography visual perspective. Too little and their wont be enough material to visualize.

As i mentioned before, Spiegelman doesn’t need to worry about the other hurdles of graphic narrative, being characters, setting and storytelling. he can focus on the information he receives and outputting that information visually. that is where a autobiographic graphic can work. the small detailing is already taken care for you.

i would say that Spiegelman’s approach to using graphic as a medium is a big step forward in terms of storytelling. he proves that if executed right, any story cannot be limited to its medium. An example of this is experimenting with sound in comics. sounds like ‘Woosh!’ or ‘Zoom!’ depict movement on a flat medium (But we can talk about that on another day).

Spiegelman proves that the medium is just as important as the content, and if done right, can actually help out the production of that content really well. Maus has sparked many more graphic autobiographies and will continue to do so, proving that the medium of graphic narrative is flexible.


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Posted by on March 8, 2017 in Uncategorized


Narrative Structures and Orientalism

in order for a narrative to succeed in telling a series of events in succession, it needs to have a solid structure in its creation. graphic narratives (Being Novels, illustrated books, comics and autobiographies) specialize in not only structuring the narrative of the story, but also making that same narrative accessible to viewers and readers.

their are 4 types of tools that help to construct and solidify narrative in the medium of illustrated graphics. the overarching term is what is known as Sequential Art.

this form of narrative structure is seen through; Formalism, Transaction Analysis, Speech Balloons/Thought Bubbles and  Image/Text Relationships.

Will Eisner used the term sequel art to describe the functions of a panel and what subconscious purpose it has in visual language. on its own, a panel can be seen as a simple picture, however, narrative begins to form when that picture follows a sequence into another image with the pictures being linked to each other via content and not context. the differences between the first and second image are known as the transnational stage of the panel

there are 6 different ways in which illustrators communicate this language to their audience through transaction analysis

Movement to movement- a subtle action or gesture like someone who is sad, truing happy or a eye blink.

Action to Action- a more decisive action like engaging with a sport of opening the door.

subject to subject- an event that happens at the same time, but from different perspectives

scene to scene- within the same context, but in a different setting or location

aspect to aspect- within the same context, and in the same setting or location, focusing of what else is in that environment.

non-sequitur- no correlation with the previous visual.

Now with western graphics and forms of communication, this theory is practiced a lot, however, eastern cultures approach visual language in graphic narratives differently, utilizing some orientalism in the process.

orientalism is a term used to describe the influence of the eastern culture and in this case, eastern comics (Manga) is created and read differently. the big difference is that a lot of eastern (and western in the present) illustrators divert from sequential art to create their works.

This begs the question, is sequential art necessary to create a graphic narrative, or is it simply one way of many?

a question that simply cannot be answered in one day.




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Posted by on March 7, 2017 in Uncategorized


Graphic Narrative 

To start off Graphic narritive, we focused on the essentially of a pannel. More specifically how a pannel operates, how it is utalized and what it represents both metaphorically and literary.

Ah… tha pannel. In its most simplistic form, it is a form of visualisation in comics that is used to “frame” or “capture” moments in the narrative.  A pannel can be thought of as a camera taking multiple shots or still frames to a film.

In terms of representation, the space inbetween the gaps serve as subliminal mesaages towards the representation of the pannel and as for the pannels itself, they contain various themes depending on the concept the narritive. However, the main factors that pannels can influence are;

 time, location and perspective.

Pannels can be used with great flexibility when it comes to these delicate narritive topics, compared to other popular entertainment media.

Time, for example is far less punishing in comics and graphic novels then they are in films. Writers have the freedom to explain events of the past in the present to inform readers without having to influence the narritive, whereas in films, a flashback would be used to achieve the same effect. On top of this, the Graphic narritive medium freely jump to entirely diffrent aspects of the narritive by using storrytelling tools such as “meanwhile”.

This brings me to the theme of location. Just like with the subject of time, pannels can be used visualise environments as well as instantly change the tone, paste and setting of the story.

The writer can create narritives based on the location and juggle multiple stories in diffrent locations all at the same time, or at diffrent time intervals.

Other forms of entertainment media can also do this, but it proves more difficult to pull off, mainly because there is a high chance that storytelling in this way can confuse readers.

Perspective also can be manipulated with pannels in a simular manor. The writer can jump from persona to persona with ease, without risking confusion of reader.

Pannels can be used to stucture and sample multiple stories at a time with perspective, just like locations. However, the writer can focus more on characters rather then working on the general narritive by making the interactions more personal.

The gutter refers to the  space inbetween the gaps of the pannels and this feature is essential for pacing in graphic narritive because it allows closure in a pannel. 

Scott McCloud describes Closure as

 “Observing the parts, but perceiving the whole.”

These gutters allow for a certain time, action or event to stop and be conserved in the pannel, before moving onto a new pannel which makes it easier for writers to manage hiw much infomation is placed in which pannel.

The pannel that comes after the gutter, often leads to what is known as a transition. This is where the present pannel connects to the past pannel through a form of visual representation. 

There are six different types of transitions in graphic novels and narritives which help to uphold the pacing of the narritive. 

Movement to movement = transition between basic movements and gestures. 

Action to action= transitions that focus on a single aspect preforming a specific movement

Subject to subject= transitions that are within a scene which change the perspective 

Scene to scene= transitions that occur at either diffrent time and/or spaces.

Aspect to aspect= a trasition that shows diffrent aspects all in the same scene.

Non-sequitur- no form of visual representation between pannels.

These tools help to progress the stroy at whatever pacing the author wishes, giving them fluidity in terms of storytelling. With that being said, the format of pannels in not orthadox and can be heavily reformed to suit the author visual desires. Keep in mind that it will also how readers read the narritive as well.

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Posted by on January 22, 2017 in Uncategorized


Dunne & Raby (possible, plausible and Proberble)

speculative-design-4-638This image illustrated by Dunne and Raby is a symbolic reference to the possibilities of ones future.

The concept functions as a listing of possible things that can happen based on the now and this strongly applies to the theory of design fiction.

Lets start with the most obvious outcome. the probable.

The probable is the representation for the outcome which is the most likely to happen,given the present situation. as tine passes, the probable shape will always remain narrow because that is the future that the current series of events is leaning towards. without leaving much room for other possibilities along the way.

Next is, the preferable. the preferable functions in quite a similar way to that of the probable, which a similar shape arc as time progresses from the present, to the future. However, the  preferable is speculating  the boundaries which it can cross into, as seen from the image. the plausible shape can lean into unknown possibilities as it proves as a way to “think outside the box”. despite this, it will always remain connected to the probable, due to the realization of the present. if the preferable  loses its sense of reality from the present, then it becomes the plausible.

The plausible is a state that has just left the restrictive boundaries of probable and preferable, being able to be more flexible with the present. However, realism will be somewhat at a loss in terms of the future. With the plausible, it would be hard to see what the future holds for it because it is not as centered as the others. in addition, it has a large radius,which translates to the scale of possible outcomes or futures. this leads us to the final aspect of this diagram. the possible.

The possible is mostly seen as a speculation from the present due to its larger radius and scope. this means that the restrictions and limitations of the present are lifted , resulting in the future being literally possible of any outcome.

Really puts things into perspective when it comes to designing world concepts.

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Posted by on December 6, 2016 in Uncategorized