This is a series that I’m going to bind as a little comic book and hand out at Stumptown.
Western version of the Princess Mononoke characters.
San, Lady Eboshi, Ashitaka, Yakul, and the Forest Spirit.
Here are all of the character designs done for class! The assignment was to take a story and redesign the characters, changing the time period and style. I still have some edits to make and more to do with the project even though class is over. Stay tuned :)
Princess Mononoke is an amazing story, and these are well painted. Since you’re going to continue with this, though, I would really like to talk about the things that bother me about your concept work.
Ashitaka is suddenly an older white guy, readily identifiable as the gunslinger. San is a very Caucasian-featured, pale-skinned twenty-year-old native, and it looks like she somehow kept her Jomon mask? Lady Eboshi’s hat is glorious, but her skirts are painfully wrong and give the impression of a brothel worker. There are so many historical parallels and opportunities to make use of, here, that I’m not sure why you made some of the choices you did.
There’s a long and delightful tradition of Japan making samurai stories out of Westerns and Americans making Westerns out of samurai movies. It’s kind of where the gunslinger stereotype comes from. That said… Princess Mononoke is not a samurai movie, not a gunslinger story, and it seems to me there are more accurate parallels in the historical Western frontier. Like so:
San: San is a feral child, raised by god-creatures who are losing their habitat to encroaching technology. Wolves were not particularly revered by the locals, but the time period you’re talking about did have stories of a white buffalo calf who would lead the Plains people to holy, untouched lands. The buffalo were hunted down in appalling numbers to make way for the railroad and ranchers, and to drive out the native Plains peoples. Wolves are known to occasionally take in and raise human children, which might be a good reason to choose them as her mentors anyway…were you thinking of using buffalo in place of the boars?
Lady Eboshi: Lady Eboshi is a tough-talking, gender-role-defying, more-than-equal-opportunity employer, creating a stronghold of liberated women and turning a tidy profit doing so. She dresses well, according to her rank. She really doesn’t need to be sexualized by a historically inaccurate costume: she was rescuing girls from brothels and putting them to work in steel mills. She’d work well as a railroad boss or a rancher. Instant, appropriate conflict of interests with San the buffalo child, and an opportunity for her to hire at fair wage the downtrodden of those times: the Chinese immigrant laborers who built the railroad, the black population, the Irish, and the natives. She would certainly carry a rifle and probably chomp a cigar, but she’d also dress like the lady in charge and eastern heiress that she probably was.
Prince Ashitaka: Representative of a nearly-lost culture, based heavily on the Ainu in the original. Facing a tragic demise, and hoping to improve the world, or at least understand it, before he dies. Why, why, WHY is he white, here? Native from a different portion of the US, black, something - he really needs to be an outsider to the current drama, and not in the way white pioneers were. He’s someone who dresses different, looks different, and has weird opinions - even in an immigrant mix like the frontier. …Although, come to think of it, an abolitionist Quaker fits that description very well, and also suits Ashitaka’s reverent, peaceful philosophy.
Yakul: That’s a beautiful fantasy creature. Not sure where you’re going with this, as it obviously departs from the story you’re basing it on. I would’ve gone for a horse, for the beloved companion and transportation role. If not a horse, then a guide-creature that came from Ashitaka’s people’s mythology. Is this creature from a particular mythology that I don’t recognize?
Forest God: Again, not sure where you’re going with this. Is it a reference to prairie fires? Prairie fires would make sense for the Renewal and Decay role, but were very much a settler-driven change in the plains ecosystem. As an obstacle in Eboshi’s path, the Forest God would work as a native leader who refuses to move off their traditional lands. As a supernatural force, I’d look to Blackfoot and Apache myths for god-figures who’d be appropriate. The ragged waist-wrap and bandages seem out of place, and the human skull at the waist seems really inapposite, but I love the way the cloak plays up the eerie inhuman disconnect between their shoulders and head.
Having the Forest God be a native leader who refuses to make way for the railroad suggests a role for Jigo, too. As a priest sent to convert the natives and get them to sign away their rights to their land, he answers to the distant power of Washington, and is an ally, but a dubious one, to Lady Eboshi.
I hate to assume that you haven’t done the research. I’m guessing that you’re basing the character types off of the film genre of the Wild West, which I’m not as familiar with. I really, really would love to see a more historically based version instead, though. Miyazaki did his research in history, rather than genre, and there were some really terrible conflicts going on back then, which deserve so much more than a Wild White West gloss-over. There are so many really funny and interesting stories, too, to use as research. Laura Ingalls Wilder’s biographies, Wolf Willow by Wallace Stegner. J.R.Williams’s cowboy cartoons give an accurate look at the end of the rancher boom. Chinese immigrant accounts of working on the railroad, missionary accounts of how the Plains natives were driven out and resettled, native accounts of the shit they went through…
If you read this, do you mind explaining why you made the choices that you did? It looks like I’m missing something pretty basic about your version of the story, and it feels like I’m getting a nasty message that you didn’t intend.
Thank you, everyone who reblogged my sudden commission offer. I’ve got five lined up, now.
Commissions taken on:
1. oddharmonics: paid, ref received
2. hypotheticalwoman: paid
3. kisskissbigbang: paid, ref received
4. jennathings: ref received
4.5. vtoroifront: ref recieved
5. badgershenanigans: TBA
Whoops, vtoroifront emailed me before badgershenanigans! I’m so sorry, badger. Next time, okay?
When these are completed and mailed, I will take on more at my regular prices ($25 ACEO, $50 4x6 simple, $200 fullsize.) If any of these commissioners drop out, I will take on anyone who has messaged me about my $20 commission post in the meantime, for the original $20 4x6. Thanks again!
I’d like to take on 5 $20 paintings immediately, if possible. 4x6 inches, watercolor, one character or $15 per additional. Sketch sent for approval before painting if requested.
If you’re interested, reblog or Ask me with a short description of the picture you’d like! Samples of what you can expect as far as size and level of detail are shown above.
It’s not an emergency. The cat just had to have a vet visit for an infection.
Commissions taken on:
1. Feather-cloaked boy looking to sky (oddharmonics) paid, ref received
2. Centaur and rogue shenanigans (hypotheticalwoman)
3. Post-battle Bessel, disgruntled (kisskissbigbang) paid, ref received
4. Rogue, reflections on a desert sunrise (jennathings)
5. Incidental cannibal librarian (vtoroifront) ref received
5. TBA (badgershenanigans)
Current Inspiration Series #28: Mac Harshberger
Illustrations from Tristan and Iseult
Hexagonal rocks-WUT: The columns form due to stress as the lava cools. The lava contracts as it cools, forming cracks. Once the crack develops it continues to grow. The growth is perpendicular to the surface of the flow. Entablature is probably the result of cooling caused by fresh lava being covered by water. The flood basalts probably damned rivers. When the rivers returned the water seeped down the cracks in the cooling lava and caused rapid cooling from the surface downward. The division of colonnade and entablature is the result of slow cooling from the base upward and rapid cooling from the top downward. (via Hexagonal rocks)
a bunch of especially sloppy OC sketches