White Feather
Story and Art by Laura DuBois
Web Design and Support by Susan DuBois
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White Feather Falling
Catching the Eye

What do you look for in an anime or comic book? What type of story or character will draw you in no matter what? Over the years I've noticed many common archetypes and plots that repeat similarly. Anime has created whole genres that we Americans could never even conceive of such as maho shojo (magical girl), boys (and girls) piloting enormous mechanized giants, sentai teams of five who fight a villain of the day, having a demon/monster partner, etc.

Then there's what you might find in American literature, comic book superheroes, deep space adventures, slapstick sitcoms, epic midevil journeys, romance, etc. Add these together and it looks like you have a wide variety of materiasl to peruse and enjoy at your leisure. Having seen many of these anime they tend to blur togehter after a while.

Even among these stories there is a large variety of characters. Cute, innocent little girls; busty, lusty woman; bookworm; siilent/stoic hero; loud, obnoxious kid; tragic villain or hero; the list goes on forever. Looking at it objectively, one can see why such common plots and characters are used. While the circumstances around each are different, as you get familiar with a genre, it evokes certain feelings that draw you back continuously. As a writer, director, artist, etc, you want your audience to come back begging for more. However, as more and more artists borrow from common plots and characters, the genre itself becomes muddled and reduced to a formula that works. But as an artist (be it through art, writing, music, whatever) you don't want to just hit the faithful crowd looking for the next addition to the genre, you want to hit a much wider scale. You want to pull people in and have them THINK, to try and predict, be wrong, and say, "Wow!"

On some level, I think that's what differenciates an artist and a writer, an artist and someone who daws. As I've mentioned, I've become a lot more picky in what I read or watch in my spare time as a result. I don't want a formula. I want something that will truly touch me.

Don't ge me wrong, there are still certain archetypes that will always catch my eye, such as a magical adventure or a strong, serious, maybe even tragic hero. But that just catches my eye. It's what you do once you have my attention that will determine whether I'll define it as a "good" series or not.

I'll start by reccomending Brooke Bergess' Broken Saints. I can't exactly define whether or not you "watch" or "read" this artistic wonder so much as you experience it. Even trying to summarize this or any other piece of art feels like a reduction to common plots and characters, but I'll try nonetheless. Broken Saints is a journey of four people, each from a different country and religion being drawn together in a tangled web of lies and intrigue and a search for the truth. This series hit me on a very deep level. Brook Burgess is an intelligent story teller who is informed on all the things that the media doesn't tell us. I have great respect for him in doing his Office Space routine, his leaving his job to develop this story with no source of income and the sheer BEAUTY inherant in the tale.

Another reccommendation of mine is le Chevalier d'Eon. This tale is from Japanese writers about four Frenchmen from the 1700s, one of which is a real life man, d'Eon de Beaumont, who had a bet on the London Stock Exchange on whether he was a man or a woman. A real life crossdresser during the American Revolution. For the anime, d'Eon isn't a crossdresser, but possessed by his fictitious sister's spirit. Together with three others, d'Eon travels across Europe as an agent of le Secret du Roi to uncover why his sister Lia was killed. Over the course of the show, we see many historical figures like Frances's King Louis XV, Queen Mary, la Marquis de Pomparoure, Russia's Elizaveta, Catherine the Great, England's King George that the Americans were rebelling against, etc. You might think with the crossdressing the show is a comedy, but I assure you it is not. It is such a different story, it pulls you in immeidately with the first episode as you think to yourself, "My God, this is so COOL!!"

Samurai 7 is another favorite. An anime that bears many samurai story roots in its telling, it is based on the classic Akira Kurosawa film Shichinin no Samurai, which was also adapted to a Sam Pekinpah Western, The Magnificent Seven. Where Kurosawa's classic is set in feudal Japan, Samurai 7 is a futuristic take on ancient Japan. The class system is still there, with peasants, merchants, samurai and nobles, but you can see samurai like Shichirouji with mechanical parts, replaced limbs, giant mecha-like Nobuseire. The world is a mishmash of technology and tradition that sparks the imagination on how it came to be.

Similarly, Naruto has a very well defined world unlike other ninja/samurai films. More than the characters (though they helped) it was the culture of Naruto's universe that dragged me in. You see ninja fighting with magic (chakra), common weapons (kunai) and communicating with radio earpieces. It's such a fantastic mix. Plus, with Naruto,, not everything is pretty. The artists isn't afraid to make things ugly, such as Ibiki, or Sasuke's transformed hand-wings. Being a ninja leads to injuries and doing dirty work and the art doesn't shirk from it.

These are the things that can hold your attention. Even if people mimic it, there will never be anything like it again. And THAT ultimately is what catches my eye.

Things Start to Change

We've started chapter 10 now, which is roughly halfway through the story of White Feather. This chapter is pretty heavy, and it marks a big turning point for the cast, particularaly for Iyashi as he fully understands the curse that the Teihon has given him.

I'm kind of marvelling that I've made it this far. Actually, I'm much farther than what you're currently reading, I'm smack in the middle of chapter 14. White Feather has roughly 450 comics (including pages you haven't seen :D), and there's more to come. I've been working on this since I started college, and that was 8 years ago. I've almost put a decade into the creation of this, and I probably will cross the 10 year mark. It's the longest project I've ever taken on, and I'm still not sick of it. Woah. A lot has happened in the meantime. I've finished college, gotten a job, gotten another job (that pays MUCH less >:( ) switched over to a Mac, finally got a PS2, oogled over games and anime and manga, and a lot of other little things. WF has become some kind of constant. In the summer I always have something to do, because I'm still in the middle of X chapter, or I just finished and now need to outline the next, or need to pic Susan's brain over something, etc.

I've also seen that my art has changed significanly over the years. Man, my old art BITES. I can't believe I ever put it up on the web. *dodges hurtling objects originating from Nee-san* What? I have improved. My proportions are a lot better, and I can draw faces and bodies at more creative or dynamic angles. I've recently started to break out of the "line of boxes" format that I've been using for forever, and one thing that I can take pride in is that I do good expressions. My sense of architecture, well, that's another story... *sweatdrop*

The characters are really starting to grow, now, too. With all their establishment out of the way, I can really start working on them. Iyashi, little alpha that he is, is going to go through the most, of course, but that doesn't mean that the others don't get touched on. Everyone is going to start to grow and change because of what happens in this chapter and its successors and I'm having a blast doing it. I don't want to give to much away, but let's say that Iyashi starts going downhill while Mosho starts growing into his Touch and Kitsu becomes more mature. This doesn't even get into the fact that I'm *finally* getting around to introducing the last core character of the bunch (you might have spied him if you read White Feather Falling).

All in all, the chapters start getting a little deeper in the future. There's a lot more explanation of the Teihon and what it does and represents, the cast gets a little more desperate to find it, and things start to roll towards and end.

You know. Someday. Maybe.

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