Women of Star Trek: Troi

It always bothered me that Troi didn't look like an alien. Or act like an alien. She was raised on Betazed, yet she appears to have no cultural conflicts whatsoever living in Star Fleet.

Troi rarely acknowledges her mixed ancestry, and is even less often bothered by it. It is occasionally referenced, but in general characters like Worf wind up being a lot more fraught about their cultural heritage. But other than Troi's mother being difficult (which appears to be personality rather than racially driven) she seems remarkably unconflicted.

So when I sat down to draw Troi, I knew I wanted her to look a little... off. Not quite human. I'm not sure I succeeded, but I at least I didn't make her look awkward. I'm pretty pleased about that, given Troi's preference for twisted posture.

Women of Star Trek: Yar

In retrospect, Tasha Yar is clearly one of my childhood role models. Though I didn't know the word at the time, I thought she was hardcore. She was also competent: Her opinions were respected by Picard and Riker, and they relied on her expertise. (In contrast to poor shot-down Worf.) She was pretty but not womanly, and seemed to find reminders of her gender to mainly be annoying. This resonated with me, because I was just beginning to notice the surprise or disapproval some adults exhibited when I enjoyed 'boyish' pursuits.

Re-watching the series now as an adult, I am struck by other aspects of her character. Most obviously, she suffers from first season syndrome. TNG was finding itself, (as many shows do during the first season) so her character presentation is a bit scattered and flat. Since she was only in the first season, that's all we have to judge her on. Though her leaving the series did clear the way for Worf (who was a childhood favorite) it means she never got to grow a beard. Yar is good at her job, but she is not a generalist: She's holding a hammer, and by god she's going to hammer everything until she finds a nail. While she is strong, she is clearly also damaged in a disappointingly predictable way. Perhaps they would have developed that in a more interesting direction given more time, but the tough chick with trust issues/romantic anxiety is selling the potential of Yar's backstory a little short.

On an arts level, and am very pleased with how her body came out. There are low points (the hands) but I nailed something about her character with her stance. She is clearly powerful and forthright, but also somehow brittle. I also like the contrast between her figure and Uhura's: both are clearly adult women, but at opposite ends of the hourglass spectrum. (You'd think an ability to draw different body types would be part of an artist's basic toolkit. Unfortunately it's often not. )

The background... I'm still working on backgrounds. Suffice it to say that I didn't just take a photo of the bridge and run filters over it. I re-drew it, even the damn woodgrain. But it doesn't look like that's what I did, it looks like filters. Bah humbug. I would like to note however that I attempted a complementary color scheme that isn't orange and blue for a change. I think it works.

Women of Star Trek: Uhura

This series of drawings brought to you by Neil Degrasse Tyson. If you don't know who that is, it is my pleasure to introduce an astrophysicist whose wonder and love of the universe is contagious. In many ways he is a successor to Carl Sagan, particularly in his effort to publish advanced scientific information in a generally accessible form, and to popularize scientific thought of all kinds.

The spark for the series I'm beginning today is a podcast that Neil hosts called Startalk. Not too long ago he interviewed Nichelle Nichols, whom you may recognize as the original Lt. Nyota Uhura.  While listening to the recent time capsule episode, I was inspired by the juxtaposition of the interview with Nichelle and Neil's interview with Whoopi Goldberg, who of course played Guinan on TNG. (That's [Star Trek] The Next Generation, for all the non-nerds.) Both were amazing and they reminded me of the formative role Star Trek played in my perception of women and gender relations in the future. While I never really fully bought into Gene Rodenberry's utopia, I find I carry little bits of it around. I assume that the future will be full of women and men who can obtain equal levels of professional success, and that promotion is based on excellence. That sometimes even saying 'men' and 'women' will be a bit inaccurate, because not all people will fit under either heading. That no one will assume agression, tenderness, or other emotions are gendered qualities. All and all men, women, and other sentients will be presumed to be equal, without the assumption that they are the same.

I wanted my depiction of Uhura to primarily reflect two things: her competence/professionalism and her almost aristocratic grace. The facts: Uhura is curvy bordering on voluptuous, dressed in a miniskirt, and is typically presented sitting like a telephone operator with a funny-looking doohicky in her ear. I think I met my goals admirably, considering these restrictions.

I'm still not sure about the lack of chair. It works for me because I'm so familiar with the scene that by brain auto-fills that detail, but I think perhaps that her sitting on air may look strange to the general audience. Ah well. Like hell I'm drawing a full background of all those knobs and switches.

Zeetha, plus some news


I've mentioned Girl Genius before, so I'll just point in that direction and say read it. Zeetha is an awesome character but while I like her, I'm not totally invested in her, which is probably why I felt comfortable taking her quite tight character design and flubbing it as part of my learning process.

This is the 'go faster and be looser' part of that process. Again. The process is a cyclical sort of thing. On the bright side, there has been some clear progress. This one took about three hours total, and there were no outlines at any point in the coloring process.

Now, I implied there was news.  I've been spreading my branchy little dendrites over the internet.

Ever wanted to buy any of my drawings? I am now a member of a little artist's association called Paper Ribbons, where you can buy both already made pieces and commission things based on a style choice and a short statement. Paper Ribbons is aiming to make art buying make a little more accessible. Pricing is based on size, so it takes some of the uncertainty out of trying to assess artistic value. (They make it my job, rather than yours.) My Paper Ribbons page.

If you're more into my jewelry, I also now have a facebook page. Mostly because two people in one week gasped in horror when they wanted to 'friend' me and found out that I didn't have one of those buttons. (They don't actually issue them at birth. Surprisingly.)

And there's always my etsy, which has been updating lately. Which reminds me, I've got some new pieces I need to take pictures of. Boo pictures. Hooray updates!


Inspiration: Mucha

mucha-spoof At the head of the list of awkward questions to ask creative people:  'where do you get your ideas?'

If you've ever asked a creative person this and gotten a exasperated glare in response, try not to take it personally. You're just the eleventy-seventh person to ask that question, and about 85% of the time, the artist you're questioning has no idea where their inspiration came from. I'll save my Freudian speculations on why that might be for another time, because right now I'm introducing an irregular feature on Spiral-Bound Sketches.  Basically, when I title something 'Inspiration', that post will be one of  the 15% of the time when I do know where my inspiration is coming from, and I'll try to explain it. Either you will find this enlightening, or it will convince you that all artists are crazy, to varying degrees.

So, on to today's post. Recently, I had an excuse to send one of my friends a letter. Normally, I'm not one to send letters. The only time in my life where I sent regular letters was from the age six to twelve, where I was required to send my Great Grandmother a letter once a week. As you might imagine, a six year old isn't going to be much for sentence structure, so I started out sending mostly pictures, with a few words. Eventually the words got to take up more of the content of the mailing, but the picture part was always there too. So now, when I do send a letter, it feels a little odd if I don't include some sort of drawing in it.

This friend of mine has a favorite artist, by the name of Alphose Mucha.  I've learned that I can influence my sketching style (as many authors can influence their writing style) by consuming an awful lot of one unique artist. So I looked at a lot of Mucha. (I did a similar thing with Mike Mignola in March.) This is a fast process (about an hour) when I share major stylistic qualities with the artist I'm trying to ape.  In this case, both Mucha and I love to do clearly outlined forms, and we like to draw ladies who sit around looking pretty.

So that's how this came about. As to the exact subject, I couldn't come up with a single thing to write. So this lady with a blank piece of paper in front of her was going to be sort of an apology for being really bad at writing letters, but then the drawing itself took too long to finish, so I didn't wind up sending the letter.


But hey, blog post.

Sorry Guys

Yeah... So the next installment of the game is going to be late. This is partially due to having actual for-pay work eating up my art time, (more on that later, if the client approves) and also because the next installment has been an utter bitch to make.

So, here's some filler. But wait: it's filler that doesn't suck!

These are some full-page spreads I did for a CD bookelet about two years ago.  For those that are curious, the musician is a friend. But I don't just listen to his music just to be polite, I listen because it's good.


I'm not really happy with this, but I've found that's a recurring problem whenever I try to draw a character that really matters to me: I obsess, I still can't get it right, so I overwork it. (if I were working with regular old pencil and paper for example, I'd have erased a hole in the page.) The result isn't bad exactly, but it is overwrought, and it looses some of the natural grace of the original idea.

Oh, that's Agatha, by the way. She belongs to Phil & Kaja Foglio, and lives over at Girl Genius. Girl Genius has an artistic style that perfectly matches the thematic content, which is... Hmm. I'd tell you what it's about, but I won't because I don't want to give anything away, it's all too awesome for me to risk messing it up. Suffice it to say that it's relentlessly silly, (though with some serious themes about identity) manically detailed, and there's always a reasonable likelyhood that someone will throw a bomb at you.


Not my character. This lady belongs to Joe England over at Zebra Girl. I heartily recommend giving his comic a read. The writing and plot starts off a bit sitcom-y, but he finds his feet after a bit and then things get interesting. The art starts off pretty good and gets pretty damn good. Not even close to my style, but inspirational nonetheless.  I also love the recent turn he's taken toward, well, going balls to the wall with his art.

Besides, I'm obligated to like anyone whose avatar of choice is a pissed-off bunny.