wow it’s september, what a vibe. life has been messy, but yesterday I hunkered down with some actual markers and paper to just vibe on some character art for a while. I’ve been feeling a bit stuck on the character art for the game. I know how the characters all look but figuring out how to do that stylistically has been dodgy. I’ve been having fun with the high concept character art promos, but that’s just for fun, not the real look for the game.
I had done a line-up a few months ago that was in itself a bit of a parody of Ghost World and it didn’t feel quite right either. too flat and washed out. over the weekend, as usual, I looked to film for some help. right now Criterion Channel has a feature on of art house animation, and 2 films fit neatly into what I was looking for.
I had read the Persepolis books ages ago, probably when I was at the age of this story, but I’d never seen the film. watching it over the weekend brought up all the nostalgia of the books and of that time in my life, particularly of feeling like making art was something I wanted to do with my life. I got discouraged and burned out in my early 20s, partly thanks to shitty boyfriends, partly thanks to feeling broke and miserable in art school. watching the film finally felt like both what might have been and what I still would really rather have. so I worked in tech instead, I’m still broke! might as well draw now.
Aya de Yop City was one of those wonderful surprises I only have when I pick something random off Criterion or Mubi. beautiful animation, solid drama, great humor. I feel like I could watch 100 episodes of it but wouldn’t want it to end up diluted and awful. better to see it as just a lovely thing, and maybe dig up the books (a good excuse to go to Albertine when I’m in NYC next). just a good fun film, what more do you want on a Saturday night???
the thing that clicked for me with both was that their character art is not particularly edgy or complex. Marjane Satrapi talks about this a bit more directly in the books, that maybe her art is limited or minimal because of her training, but that doesn’t mean it lacks power or gravitas. it brought to mind Barefoot Gen, which has a much more child-like aesthetic than, say, Akira, but is maybe more brutal for it. anyway, I felt like I walked away with license for the character art to be easy and expressive and juvenile, because it just should be.
last night I sat down with a stack of paper and some markers and just doodled until I felt like I got a few solid sketches of each character. what a relief. it felt easy again, and not like the grueling, grating process of some of the character art to date. I just feel excited to draw more, and draw more freely.