Thursday, September 14, 2017

Kickstart This! Guardian: A Fantasy Armor Coloring Book

If you haven'y already guessed, I have a special place in my heart for women in armor. So when I saw a notice for a new coloring book filled with all kinds of fantasy femmes in kickass armor, naturally I was all in.

There's something so empowering about seeing a strong woman in armor, ready to defend her friends and family. Heck, I'm also pretty inspired by badass femme rogues and thieves out causing mischief. Illustrator and comic creator Pamela Kotila agrees. And lucky for us, she's turned her talents to creating more of these armored heroines for us to admire.

She started drawing more women in armor and thus Guardian: a Fantasy Coloring Book of Women in Armor was born. It features women and femme mages, rogues, and warriors in a variety of fantasy costumes and armor as the heroes of their own stories, ready for duty and adventure! I'm so excited about this I can't wait to spend some quality rainy day coloring time. Honestly, I think this would make a great afternoon project for a bunch of fantasy geek girls, sitting around coloring and telling stories. (Note: Guardian is slated to deliver in November, just in time for holiday gifting!)

Pamela was kind enough to chat with me a bit about her work.

SRPS: First of all, can you tell us a little about yourself? What's your background? What inspires you?

PK: Sure. I've been making webcomics since 2003, though I took a slight break while getting my degree. I have a BFA in Fashion Design/ Textiles, where I played with incorporating story into fashion performances and installations. While teaching in Japan I joined a hip hop studio, where I learned to express myself through dance. I don't do much fashion design or dance lately, but those experiences have only enriched my other work.

I launched one of my current comics six years ago, and currently release two webcomics as well as work as a colorist with Ododon Games Company. I've got a wide background of work experience as a freelancer from editing to fashion sketching, as well as teaching (ESL or art).

I love sci fi and fantasy. Watching even some of my favorite movies made me wish there were more fantasies that included more women, queer people, and people of color, so I began writing it. And seeing beautiful diverse work like Dragon Age Inquisition just makes me want to see even more of it. Stories have helped me through hard times in my life, and I hope that my work can have that impact for someone.

SRPS: What is Guardian? What inspired you to create a coloring book featuring fantasy women in armor?

PK: My partner asked me if I'd ever thought about making a coloring book, so I made a few pages which I released digitally. When I shared them on Facebook, my coloring-book enthusiast friends were really excited. I narrowed the general fantasy concept to feature women in armor after feedback from friends.

There are many ways for people to be strong. It was a symbolic thing for me to draw women and femmes in armor as the heroes of their own stories, whatever that meant for each of them. For some this appears to be a scouting mission or guard duty; for others it seems like a peaceful walk or a short rest is in order. These are just snapshots of moments in their lives.

I tend to draw mostly practical armor, but I understand there are aesthetics at play in character design. I just wish that when that argument is used to defend women in fantasy it's less about metal lingerie and more about gigantic pauldrons, spikes, and impossibly long capes flowing in the wind. I just want to see more variety. Sexy characters are fine. What I am tired of is seeing women so sexualized they're basically objects or props.

Guardian is something I want to see more of and knew I would enjoy working on. I really love drawing armor.

SRPS: Looking at the images in the your Kickstarter, it seems like the images in Guardian represent not only a wide range of fantasy races, but also appears to show diverse human-style features and body types. Was this a conscious decision?

PK: Absolutely. I've been working on drawing more body types over the years and on paying more attention to facial features. I wanted to focus on the beautiful diversity of faces, hair, and bodies rather than offer the same face that is largely read as white on page after page of a book that's supposed to be about women and femmes in general. I know I cannot do justice to every woman with this one coloring book, but it is a start.

It's repeated often but it's true: Representation matters. When I realized there were gender-ambiguous characters in Attack on Titan, I was all over them. And though I suspected as much, it was great to have such an iconic character like Jughead state that he is asexual in print.

Seeing ourselves in media and genres we love can be validating. I believe in producing positive media: work that can reach out to someone who wants to see it or needs to see it. And I will make more.

SRPS: This isn't your first book, or your first Kickstarter project. Can you tell us a little about your previous work? Where else can people find your illustrations?

PK: I have two current webcomics — both are queer romances and sort of quiet adventures. Spidersilk is an ongoing fantasy webcomic about to hit its six year anniversary; it's part of the webcomic collective Ink Drop Cafe. My first two Kickstarters were to have the first two volumes compiled and edited for print. Fell Swoop is an ongoing science fiction that will end next year and be released as a one-shot graphic novel. It's a featured comic at the monthly online comic magazine, StArt Faire.

My stories and art can be found through my website alakotila. Because I'm in a heavy comic focus, most of my work lately is comic pages, but I keep my gallery updated with my favorite and most recent artwork as well.

SRPS: What has been the initial reception of Guardian among fantasy fans you've encountered?

PK: It was a bit of a pet project at the start so I didn't talk about it early on. I'd meant to rush a few images out and make a few print-on-demand copies to sell at a local art fair to gauge interest in such a product, but early feedback was so enthusiastic I realized I shouldn't rush it. I was excited to hear people say they hadn't realized they'd needed such a thing until now. One person even said it was pretty much their dream coloring book!

I really want this to be something anyone can color. Whether they are seeing themselves as a hero, or seeing women and femmes as heroes, I think those are valuable things.

I need your help to share news and reviews of
projects featuring kickass women and girls!

If you like what you read, please share this post with your friends.


Post a Comment