Favourite work of the week, amazing food photography with a space narrative twist!
Endless Books: 8 Weeks
- Dina Belenko
A while ago I heard a version of this story where Athena has pity on Medusa and turns her into the gorgon to protect her from all men. A gift instead of a punishment for her brother’s crimes.
It always stuck with me, so here’s a doodle.
This has come up on my blog a few times, and I REALLY really am struck by how beautiful this is. so.. reblogging it to you guys. Isn’t it lovely?
Just goes to show you, Bill, never give up hope.
Same goes for you Laura.
"Forgive me, my Queen…"
Monostatos is my most tragic character.
Design from Tamino and the Magic Flute, my graphic novel adaptation of Mozart’s last opera, The Magic Flute (1791).
For more on my adaptation, see my blog! http://squonkhunter.wordpress.com/2014/06/22/announcing-a-new-project-tamino-and-the-magic-flute/
Not to be a pain in the ass, but why are all your characters white? It’s specified in the libretto that Tamino is Japanese and Monostatos is black. What’s the point of Papageno saying “Bin ich nicht ein Narr, daß ich mich schrecken ließ? Es gibt doch auch schwarze Vögel auf der Welt, warum denn nicht auch schwarze Menschen?”, then?
I’m sorry, I just take Magic Flute really seriously.
Hello, glitter-and-be-gay, thank you for asking. To be fair, I have not uploaded all of my character designs as of yet. Since this is a fantasy, the continents of Europe, Asia, and Africa as we know them do not actually exist in this realm, but some of the characters, arguably, can look to be of European descent. It’s strange that you said all of my characters are white, as I have uploaded Pamina, and she looks to be of Korean descent. To be fair to you, though, you might not have seen that earlier post, and I have not uploaded anything of Sarastro, who looks to be of African descent.
As far as taking The Magic Flute seriously, I have scoured through the original text and full score multiple times. I am so dedicated to this piece, I have learnt pieces of it on the piano and in fact, when I was a young girl about the age of seven, I decided to learn German for the specific reason that The Magic Flute was in German and I wanted to know what the characters were saying.
Sixteen years later, I understand the entire script, and have read Mozart’s letters to and from Schikaneder concerning the matter. I have seen countless performances of all three different versions of The Magic Flute and am currently in possession of the most verbose one that contains all the scenes that are normally cut out. I take this opera enormously seriously, and you can be sure that I take this adaptation just as seriously.
The adaptation to comic form changes the storyline to fit the darkness and epic nature of the music. The music in itself contains all the psychology that Schikaneder did not place in the libretto, for example, Tamino’s insecurities (the frailness in the notes, the fact that he’s the highest Mozart tenor there is, the support he needs from the music in order to complete an idea, and the constant questioning and hesitation that fits him musically, all of which is Mozart’s doing and not Schikaneder’s). Thus I am riffing off of many of the main themes and adding back story so that the scenes that do occur within the opera contain as much weight visually as they would when paired with the music. This is a unique challenge when working in a purely visual medium.
Insofar as to why Monostatos is portrayed as white, the only real purpose he was portrayed as a Moor in the first place was to appeal to the mentalities of the time. If you look in the stage directions in the libretto, Schikaneder doesn’t even refer to his own character by name. He simply calls him “der Mohr.” Even to his own author, Monostatos was nothing but the color of his skin, an unappealing, ugly, fat, apish man whose attractions for the chalk-skinned and pallid Pamina are both disgusting and humorous.
To an 18th century audience.
That is not something I want to replicate in a 21st century comic. The power of The Magic Flute is its immense and chameleon-like ability to adapt to any country or any time’s sentiments (just look at Impempe Yomlingo’s adaptation of the piece, where South African instruments play Mozart’s original melodies in an all-black cast where the Queen of the Night is a colonial presence, it’s absolutely brilliant!). The point is, the piece is about the triumph of good over evil. Now, what that good or evil is depends on the opinion of the person adapting the piece.
For my personal adaptation, the good represented by Day is Love. The evil represented by Night is Fear. This works for me, as I view fear to be the opposite of love (Why are people racist? Because they lack understanding towards the opposite party and do not attempt to understand out of fear.). For my piece, I argue that race does not matter and I show this by portraying different ethnicity in characters and yet letting them react to one another as if race did not matter. They treat each other like human beings and accuse each other based on actions or on social status which is determined by employment or noble birth, and nothing to do with race.
With my Monostatos, I just drew the character who popped into my head. I did the same with Sarastro. Sarastro ended up black. Monostatos ended up white. It doesn’t actually matter, as long as you stick to what the characters represent at their core, and what is expressed in the soul of the music, not by specific dialogue. I wanted to capture the feeling of being an outsider in Monostatos, of being conscious that everyone hates him, but I have built him a back story that provides that information rather than toss around the word “Moor” and point fingers at how ugly, stupid, and manipulative he is. Rather, we are able to sympathize with or damn Monostatos based on his actions rather than the color of his skin, yet I keep the same jilted mentality and manipulative personality of the original. The shell in which this entity occupies should not matter, even if it conflicts with the details of the original because, in the end, it is not the details that make The Magic Flute the masterpiece it is. It is the music that reaches to eternity, its unique ability to adapt, and the universal triumph of good over evil.
I hope this is a sufficient reason and that you understand I deeply revere this opera, yet respect it enough to see its faults and change it to bring out more of its beauty.
Paula aka. squonkhunter
Well, we agree on some things and disagree on others but I really appreciate your insight. I wasn’t implying that you don’t take it seriously, so I apologise if you felt that way. My name is Irene, by the way.
I understand what you’re trying to do by disregarding the race of the characters. I’m perfectly okay with that when it comes to casting actual singers, but I don’t really understand it when it comes to making an adaptation. I have to say I’m hardly ever happy with adaptations. Hommages yes, but adaptations are about changing the original. Art appropriation is a very delicate subject and while it’s legitimate, not everybody likes it. I’m in that group. So don’t get me wrong, I think your illustrations are great, it’s only the subject matter with which I have a problem.
The world of Zauberflöte is not someplace else. It obviously uses some suspended reality, but it’s still here. Tamino is from actual Japan, not some mythical place. I get your reasoning for wanting to change the story to something that’s politically correct, but just because you don’t like the original story, it doesn’t mean you have the right to change it. I agree, Schikaneder wasn’t a wonderful librettist, but this is still his story. This is what Disney does. They take a fairy tale (or worse, something like The Hunchback of Notre Dame) and change it into something that’s going to allow them to sell merchandise, completely disregarding the original ideas. Of course, you’re not doing it for that reason but out of love for the opera and hence trying to improve it and, again, I get that, but let me tell you why we disagree.
I don’t think portraying Monostatos as a Moor was so much to vilify him for being one and rather to redeem him for it and condemn him for his own actions. That’s why Papageno says what he says. There are black people like there are black birds and that’s all there is to it. It’s just that Monostatos happens to be a horrible person too. Making him white because you feel they made him a Moor to make him evil seems a bit strange to me. The thing about an opera written 300 years ago is that, precisely because of it, everybody understands that it’s not going to be politically correct up to today’s standards. Attempting to “fix it” seems counterproductive. If you start with that, you’d have to change the obvious misogynistic nature of Sarastro to “update” him and that would change the story so much there wouldn’t be one. If Sarastro hadn’t thought the Queen was unfit to be a mother because she was trying to get back her powers, being a “proud and ambitious woman”, he wouldn’t have kidnapped Pamina in the first place.
I think it’s wonderful that you’re giving the characters a backstory and taking the music into account to portray the characters’ physicality, but is changing their race really necessary? If you think, and we agree, that the race of the character shouldn’t matter as long as they’re consistent, why did you feel it was necessary to change them? What purpose does it serve for Pamina to be Korean and Sarastro to be black? Is the Queen also Korean? I don’t think you realise it, but isn’t making the supposedly evil character Korean the kind of racial statement you were trying to avoid with Monostatos?
As a cartoonist, I’m positive that you’re familiar with Miyazaki’s work. He doesn’t take someone else’s story and rewrite it, he just writes his own. You are really talented and while I understand it’s easier to take an existing story and adapt it, I would love to see more original works from you.
On the issue of why people are racist, and this is really a side note, I don’t agree with you. This is not a matter of right or wrong but of personal feeling, but I think people are racist out of pent up anger. Being racist allows them to take it out on an entire group of easily identifiable people that don’t share that particularity with them, so it’s easy to dehumanise them and not have to feel guilty for it. It has nothing to do with a lack of understanding or fear and a lot more with being able to get away with being horrible towards other people while feeling justified.
I would love to know more about your backstory for the Queen. I see her as a feminist icon, fighting for women’s right to be as much of a human being as a man. I never understand why most people still think that Sarastro is the good guy.
Thanks for taking the time to answer, I really enjoy discussing Zauberflote.
apparently e.l. james called former child star mara wilson (matilda) a “sad fuck” for critiquing the 50shades books a while ago and now there’s a feud. i love it.
this gives me hope.
mara wilson is also the faceless old woman who lives in your home, so you know she’s got your best interests at heart
Get To Know Me Meme
Favorite Movies [2/5] : Return To Oz
”She is Ozma, queen and rightful ruler of Oz. Her father was king of Oz before the Wizard came, Ozma grew up as Mombi’s slave, but when the Nome King promised Mombi thirty beautiful heads if she kept Ozma a secret, she enchanted her into the mirror.”
" I forgive Mombi. Dorothy has punished her by removing her magical powers, and a witch with no magic is a miserable creature indeed."