Before the founding of AAPA (Asian American Political Alliance) in 1968, we were ‘orientals’ at best. We were like the rug: something to be stepped on, and kept out of sight, and then [they would] roll us back up when they needed a model minority to pit against the other minorities. That’s what they used us for.
Vicci Wong, AAPA member, on the creation of the term “Asian American.”
Polypheme and Odyssea, my combatants for Jenn Woodall’s FIGHTZINE, featuring an all-female cast of fighting game characters. These ended up being closer to Dark Souls enemies (maybe my Ornstein and Smough), but hey.
I picture these two as invulnerable from the front and weak to the rear, with Polypheme’s shield and spear, and Odyssea’s gun keeping the player at bay. I imagine you’d get a few seconds to wail on their weaker side before being skewered on Polypheme’s flaming trident and hurled across the screen.
I knew I wanted to do a pair from the beginning, but I couldn’t really figure things out. I tried out some stuff with a tandem bow, one holding and aiming, the other drawing back the arrow, but visually it didn’t work. Things didn’t really develop until I drew Polypheme’s giant shield, and even then, it wasn’t until the shield became a face with a mouth that the pair clicks. The shield became a cyclops later, after looking at some Indian puppet masks, I think. She became Polypheme, and the other became Odyssea. The trident was a sword originally, but, Polyphemus, being the son of Poseidon, already has a link to the trident. The flaming part of the trident is a small nod to the flaming wooden stake Odysseus uses to blind the cyclops.
I have a big reference folder full of matchlock guns from different time periods, culled from a few trips down the ol’ Google images rabbit hole, so that popped up. It seems mindlessly scanning Google images or Tumblr or whatever would just be a timesink and nothing else, but you never know. It pays off to keep track of the things you find visually stimulating, just in case.
These are two disparate examples of how I design characters — sometimes a lot of narrative choices go into the character, like in Polypheme, and sometimes it’s just a collection of interesting shapes, patterns, etc, like with Odyssea. The first is active, where I’m trying to fulfill some mental picture, the second is reactive, where I’m building the narrative after the shapes come together. They both have their merits.
I’m happy to add this piece of tonal dissonance to what is otherwise shaping up to be a very fun zine.