Friday, October 16, 2015

DC Comics + Katherine Brannock = Love

As 2015 descends into Autumn, we find ourselves near the cusp of All Hallows' Eve and Dia de Los Muertos -two special days held close to the heart of Yours Truly. Halloween, of course, has evolved into a time of year where anyone can assume their alter ego... good, bad, boldly grotesque and/or extraordinarily exhibitionist. The Day of the Dead, on the other hand, seems to encourage the more specific visage of Latino flavored, sugar skulls. But, regardless of the conceptual meandering of mainstream cultural expression, this time of year remains an unmistakeably sacred moment for people to pause and acknowledge the masses who have left this earth plain for that ineffable space in the sky.

Humanity's roots in sanctimonious escapism certainly dates back to the dawn of civilization, and using the mask/costume as an implement of expression or empowerment remains embedded in our cultural psyche. For many of us, this act may remain dormant for a majority of the year, but mainstream media has found unique ways to facilitate our subconscious fascination with slipping into an alternative visage as well as the accompanying mindset.

When I was first approached by Shawn Knapp, Senior Art Director of DC Comics, I was floored by the opportunity to participate in their production process. Having regularly attended the San Diego Comic Con since I was about ten years old, my dream of finally exhibiting among these titans was compounded by my desire to, one day, be a part of the team. And as soon as that chance presented itself, I couldn't refuse.

Shawn's brainchild, Gotham City Garage, features a line of limited edition collectible toys inspired by the all American symbol of untamed freedom (Harley Davidson Motorcycles) in conjunction with DC's most notoriously unbridled women. His vision to bring these empowered characters to life on the open road, comes complete with a rugged ride as well as a restyled character donning their new tattoo. When given the assignment, Harley Quinn was unveiled as my muse. She has always been a favorite instigator of mine and the challenge of creating a meaningful image to decorate her neck, sternum and shoulders was an exciting task.

The tattoo image was inspired by the fascinating background story of this multifaceted Super Villainess. Beginning with her background as a psychologist, I decided to incorporate a caduceus to represent Harley Quinn's
(Dr. Harleen Frances Quinzel, M.D.) work in the medical field. As the snakes pour out the mouth of a menacing winged skull, they additionally curl around Harley's signature diamond symbol, bells and a checkered bow. The skull centerpiece across her sternum dually protects the many sides of Harley's personality, while stoking the furnace of her id which undoubtedly wishes to fly free (symbolized by the wings). 

The final touch of Harley Quinn's mask across the skull's face, brings us full circle towards the initial discussion of this Blog post. Once again, we are posed with the idea that humanity created a need for the mask. Dr. Harleen Frances Quinzel's story is not a far cry from the everyday struggles of your average man or woman. It is my personal opinion that many individuals place a more, or less, obvious mask on themselves as soon as they step onto the stage of our social theater. The masks we choose to wear could be practical and pleasant, or they might be used to intimidate and control. These facades may or may not be as obvious as the costumes donned by our favorite heroes and villains -but in some way they seem to parallel our need to hide the aspects of our character that we may fear as a weakness.

Therefore, my hat goes off to the Dr. Harleen Frances Quinzel, a.k.a. Harley Quinn, in addition to the many other righteous and/or evil, costumed characters in the DC Universe. For in those vulnerable moments, faced with the brink of our sanity, we alone must choose the higher or lower path to maintain survival in an unforgiving social system, encapsulated by an even more savage planet. Do we choose to indulge our darker proclivities in order to live another day? Or do we choose to fight against the ways and means that brought us to this precipice of confusion? What sort of mask emboldens you to take on the pressures of this world?

Harley Quinn may be a Villainess, but a part of me will always respect a person (be they fictitious or factual) who has embraced a means to express their true nature. Not everyone can be a perfect little angel, but without a villain, there (of course) is no hero.

Thank you for joining me today,
and take care until next time.



No comments:

Post a Comment