Saturday, January 11, 2014

And now for something completely different

Stand back, everyone - Jenna is doing a comic.

That's an out of character statement if ever I made one, and it deserves some context. It's simple: one of the best small venues in New York City for selling stuff as an illustrator is MoCCA, but since that stands for 'Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art', this year it's required that every artist tabling have at least one comic to show.

After some (haha, some) initial panic and abortive attempts at writing A Comic, I realized that I was already above and beyond my comfort zone and needed to approach it more intelligently. Instead of a story of my own, which I don't have, or an adaptation of something else, which I would have had to write and design from the ground up, it occurred to me that I already had something I could use: The Lord of the Rings.

[warning for extreme nerdiness and emotions]

On the read-through I did my senior year of college, a small exchange I'd never really paid much attention to jumped out at me:

And Aragon said to Halbarad: 'What is that you bear, kinsman?' For he saw that instead of a spear he bore a tall staff, as it were a standard, but it was close-furled in a black cloth bound about with many thongs. 
'It is a gift that I bring you from the Lady of Rivendell,' answered Halbarad. 'She wrought it in secret, and was long in the making. But she also sends word to you: The days now are short. Either our hope cometh, or all hope's end. Therefore I send thee what I have made for thee. Fare well, Elfstone!
- Return of the King, Capter Two: The Passing of the Grey Company

It is one of only two direct references to Arwen I can recall between actual her appearances in The Fellowship of the Ring and The Return of the King, and it hit me like a punch to the gut. This scene takes place around two months after the Frodo and his companions set out from Rivendell; the implication is that Arwen has spent that entire time since Aragorn's departure working on his standard, alone, knowing that she will never see him again unless the impossible is achieved. And then she sends it to him. That's the part that gets me, really.

So, here's the comic, in final-thumb form; the text follows, though it's not broken up by page here. As we get closer to April, expect to see some progress shots.

You fell in love once, when the sun was brighter. 
That sun has long since set. But you are the Evenstar: a piercing light in the growing darkness. As the shadows gather and pool, dangerous as deep water, your radiance becomes a beacon. But no matter how bright you shine, it is for nothing if he fails. 
So you take the cold, clear light of the star you are named for; you take the delicate, shining threads of hope that bind you to him. The black of the banner beneath your hands is nothing compared to what rages at your doorstep, but you pierce it with diamonds and truesilver until you have given all you have. 
And then you let it go. 
It goes to him, as you cannot, takes a place of honor beside him, and now you watch the shadows deepen with nothing left to keep them at bay but your own lonely faith. 
But you are the Evenstar, and you shine bright as light fails. You are a beacon. And far away, a banner of blackest night is pierced by stars.