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Gate of Ivrel Slide Show: Page Two

developmental.jpg (19689 bytes) copyright Jane S. Fancher 1985

For a time, life had seemed to move on a straight-line course to the Graphic Novel.  Then...
reality hit.  I'd played with these characters, but now we were talking scripting, lettering, all the art...
I knew kinda what they looked like, what they wore, etc. but I needed costumes I could draw over and
over and over, faces I knew from every angle, page after page...and I'd done three.   From the end of
the book!  In the meantime, I had to survive.  That meant A Real World Job.

So, I packed up Elrond, my books and my swing couch, hooked my car to the back of my
rental truck, and headed back across country.  I moved into a house with two of my brothers, found
a job I thought would bring in steady cash while allowing me time to work on the graphic and started the
Real Work.

CaracterDesign.jpg (12702 bytes) CJCsmall.jpg (2586 bytes) I have often been asked if I consciously designed Morgaine to look like Carolyn.  Not unless I'm psychic. <G> I hadn't met or seen Carolyn before I did the first work on Morgaine. Morgaine came by her strong cheekbones softened by large, heavy lidded eyes, a look so similar to Carolyn's, all on her own.  Perhaps it's form following function; there are times Carolyn is very much like Morgaine!  Some of the notes I carried out of that first meeting were things like: M&V same hgt.  M: long limbs, deceptively fragile. For V: scraggly.  Good nose.  That was almost a given.  I went through a stint of drawing Dr. Who's Tom Baker and learned to appreciate how expressive (not to mention dimensional) a good schnozzola can be!

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Though I wasn't doing much with colors at this time
I've always seen them as summer vs winter.

Now they had faces, they needed body language, or:

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It's hard to see what Vanye is reading so intensely.  It's title is "Sweet Savage Smut."

From the start, Vanye was easy for me to "see" and "feel".  The books are written exclusively from his viewpoint, which let me know what he noticed and how he reacted.  The books gave me a very clear body sense for him; the size he should be, the way he moved.  His face, since everyone seems able to read him like a book, had to be expressive.  He was athletic, pragmatic, sensible ... and somewhat ... naive.

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Not that naive. 
(This leap, BTW, was lifted almost directly from a comic that was
on the stands at this time.  We worry about their hero's next generation.)

Getting a grasp on Morgaine was a completely different challenge.  Two keys to understanding her came out of that first meeting: (a) She's being very good about keeping her hands off Vanye: i.e. from the start, she's conscious of his appeal, but more conscious of the difference in their status---especially in his mind.  (b) The Morgaine Vanye can see is very different from the Morgaine that watches him when he's not looking.  This was extremely helpful in developing the relationship between them visually.

But what really turned me loose with Morgaine was learning not to take her too seriously.  Once I learned to joke with her, once "the kids" began sending Carolyn cards and cartoons, she began to flow as easily from the pencil as Vanye.. 

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One of the more interesting aspects of trying to capture her is the strange dichotomy of an extremely attractive, brilliant woman who is willing to use any tactics to gain her ends ... who comes up short when confronted with Vanye's unique blend of honor, naivete and courage.  Sometimes, this necessitated adding small bits only alluded to in the book.  When I had a notion of how to inject one of these bits into the graphic, I always discussed it at length with Carolyn first.

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This scene takes place after Vanye has been detained in the hallway outside their room by the series' primary antagonist, Good Old Liell.   Morgaine is uneasy about this out-of-sight encounter.  She'd really like to know what went on.   It is the moment Morgaine realizes the effect she can have on him and just how vulnerable he is to her attractions. 

It's the first time they've spent a night together both inside and with Vanye cognizant. She has quite casually shed her armor, (one of my personal favorite panels is her sitting on the edge of the bed shaking her armor off) exposing the thin shirt underneath.  (The shirt's near-transparency was Carolyn's idea, BTW.  You can see why Vanye feels so put upon!) It's the first time Vanye really sees her as a woman and not Morgaine Frosthair, and the effect she has on him scares heck out of him.   As ilin, his soul is already in questionable territory.  To be attracted in that way to his liyo would be bad enough.  That his liyo is Morgaine Frosthair give the threat of the attraction a double whammy.

Under normal circumstances, Morgaine is indifferent to her own appearance, but she's not stupid and is fully aware of the effect she can have.  One gets the feeling she's used that delicate facade more than once to gain her desired ends.   She tests, pushes, then pulls back.  Had Vanye been older, less emotionally raw, she'd have used sex to bind him to her without a second thought, instead, she walks the (for her) far more dangerous road of trust, deliberately keeping her distance---thus beginning one of the best ongoing depictions of sexual tension in the history of literature!

Home Sweet Home

Goihse.jpg (20068 bytes) I find I've lost one of my special slide show section headers!  Ah, well, I've also not scanned in the images to support it, so this section will expand in the near future.

One of the on-going themes in GoI is the difference between the Andur-Kursh Morgaine knew and what the land has become in the hundred years since she entered the unset gate from which Vanye (inadvertently) frees her.

  This means lots of glory gone to seed.  Above: a farmhouse gone to ruin. To the right, one of my personal favorite panels, the escape from Leth.   A once-great castle where the frescos are crumbling from the walls.

For the exterior, it turned out Carolyn's mountains and mine were quite, quite different. To me, they were obviously my mountains. But Carolyn is from Oklahoma.  More on that later.

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We've got characters, we've got body language, and we've got habitats.
What we need now are ...

Boots!

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Again, I feel compelled to mention in head-scratching wonder:
Morgaine's outfit ... at least its questionable engineering ...
is right out of a comic that was on the stands at the time.

One of the on-going jokes started during that first meeting was Vanye's sagging boots.  The poor lad has spent two years slogging through mud and snow, and his boots have long since died. He's on a quest...for good boots.  He actually picks some new ones up in one of the novels, but they end up too small. 

A more interesting challenge was the difference between Vanye's chain and Morgaine's.   A hundred years of economic and technological decay lie between them, not to mention Morgaine's was the best money (or bribes) could buy and Vanye's ... Well, the lad's the illegitimate, exiled son of his mother's greatest enemy: he didn't exactly get the best there was in the armory.  The rest, well, ragged was the operative adjective. 

Morgaine's outfit owes much to the Romans.  Carolyn taught ancient history for eleven years and has a special interest in ancient Rome.  It seemed a good place to start.  Morgaine's cloak, which figures prominently throughout the books, taking turns saving one or the other's hide, had to have a life of it's own.

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On to Relationships

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