"For the love of God, Marie!" a review by Scott Mooney

Marie Cover.jpeg

Jade Sarson's Debut graphic novel "For the Love of God, Marie!" is a bold book about sex and love and the cultural opposition those things can bring about.  It’s a bold topic to take on, and Jade Sarson does so courageously. The book is skillfully crafted with great storytelling design and illustration. Paper colour and colour palettes are very carefully considered, signifying time, historical era, and the emotional states of the main characters.

Marie is a character who takes a stand for who she is, in spite of the painful rejections this brings about from people she loves deeply.  She has combined Jesus’s directive to love one another with her desire to nurture people through sex. It’s a maturation plot about how Marie comes to terms with who she is, and how she affects the people in her life over a 30-year time span. 

Spoiler Alert: I’m going to talk below here about story specifics and my interpretations thereof.

The main conflict of the story is love versus conformity. Marie loves many people and a big part of her expression of that love is through sex, regardless of gender or cultural identity. Meanwhile she is maturing through an era of massive cultural change and friction, living her childhood through the 60’s, teen years in the 70’s, parenthood in the 80’s and 90’s. Religious and racial and cultural prejudices (embodied in the reactions of her old guard British parents) are constantly challenged by Marie’s choices of lovers. 

Marie’s character embodies freedom of love in a few ways. Aside from the 60’s sexual revolution, Marie loves people unconditionally.  Her heart reaches out to people downtrodden by their culture, as she herself knows this pain. Her sexual behaviour is fairly taboo for her time,  with her mixture of same-sex and cross-cultural lovers. Ironically this beautiful trait of hers generates embarrassment, condemnation, and jealousy in the people she cares about.*

I’m particularly interested in the graphic elements Sarson uses to tell this story.

Paper colour in the book gradually shifts from a fairly dark amber to a crisp white towards the end of the book. To me it marks the passage of time through the story, using the tendency of book paper to turn more and more yellow-brown as it ages. I read it as a visceral symbol of how old a given part of the story is.

Colour palettes are strictly limited, and the palettes are changed from section to section. Generally any given section is limited to one or 2 colours plus black, and the colour of the paper, with one exception, the persistent use of gold (more on that later). The specifically limited colour choices seem to indicate major chapters in Marie’s life, not necessarily chapters in the book. 

Burgundy, a conflicted colour on the edge between red and purple, the colour of red wine, blood of Christ, starts the book in Catholic primary school, a maybe 10 year old Marie playing the pregnant Mary Mother of Christ in the school Christmas pageant, and witnessing an event afterwards that sets her off questioning the established interpretation of her family’s religious values about what love is supposed to look like.

Blues, purples and reds for her childhood and teens in the 1960’s. Purple often symbolizes mixed feelings, inner conflict, sexual repression. It’s the blend of a hot and cool colour… fire and water.

Brown and yellow-green represent the time span of Marie raising her child Annie in the 1970’s. I clearly remember the brown and yellow theme in fashion and decor from when I was a kid in the late 70’s. 

Red becomes the dominant colour starting with Annie’s first menstruation. As the colour of blood, red is the nearly universal symbol of emotional volatility, known to stimulate hunger, lust, fear and anger).

Turquoise tones, bluey-greens and greeny-blues, quite deliberately take over the red starting on Annie’s wedding day in the 1980’s.  Turquoise is a cooler colour known to stimulate calm and relaxation. Think of how you feel looking into the blue and turquoise waters of beautiful beaches around the world. Turquoises and Pinks were popular colour trends at the time depicted here, I suspect thanks to the Cuban Miami cultural wave that swept popular culture back then. Check out the colour palletes of some footage from the pop culture phenomena of the time including the popular TV series Miami Vice and the awesome hit band Miami Sound Machine with their colourful videos.

The colour gold is particularly important to note. The colour characterizes or highlights only 3 people in the whole book, Marie, Prannath, and their daughter Annie.

Firstly gold is attached to Marie. Her hair is consistently a halo of Gold. As we see throughout the book she suffers the slings and arrows of her culture in response to her particular outlook on love. She’s a holy saint as she takes a stand against all pressure for her expression of spiritual love.

Secondly, gold is attached to Prannath, the man Marie falls in love with in college, the man who’s heritage is in India, who’s religion is Hindu. The frames of his glasses are gold. The umbrella he shares with Marie is gold. Prannath also suffers the disapproval of his family for this relationship with a white Christain woman. He’s taking a stand for love too.

Thirdly, gold is attached to Annie, in her Walkman and headphones and later in other accessories, and also in the gold umbrella that the family shares.

For The Love Of God Marie 8.jpg

The golden umbrella is a great symbol in the story. For one thing, it seems to stand for Prannath’s and Marie’s shared values that love transcends their cultural barriers.  At first the umbrella is his, then he gives it to Marie, and in a playful game it becomes theirs together. Eventually the gold coloured umbrella also belongs to their daughter Annie. Gold is literally and figuratively the umbrella under which Prannath and Marie come together.

Gold starts to evolve into other places later in the book.

One is her dear lifelong friend, the crossdressing pan sexual, champion boxer, Will, who becomes a sort of life partner, roommate, caregiver, provider, protector, occasional lover. Perhaps he eventually develops into adopting a similar value, accepting himself and taking a stand for who he is, what love is to him. Perhaps he is fully family now, under the gold umbrella.

Gold shows up in a sound effect from a firecracker that sparks a minor crisis that somehow brings Marie’s life to a new state of grace. 

There is a nightmare sequence that recounts all the things Marie is judged for or judges herself for, or fears about herself. Golden slashes and shapes highlight these things, in a blackened and otherwise greyscale monochromatic dream world. The gold shapes look like dangerous things in this sequence, things that shame and cut and crush Marie. Perhaps its a moment where her virtues feel like sins to her.

Marie and Agnes, her newly rekindled relationship from high school, begin to turn gold together at the end of the book.

I haven’t spoiled the book for you. The power of this story is not in what happens, but in how Marie relates with the characters in the book, and how she overcomes her emotional and spiritual challenges.  I rooted for her from the beginning, and cared about the quality of her experiences, and enjoyed the artwork immensely.

The Retirement Gift

 The Loveable Minister

The Loveable Minister

Back in the day when I made caricatures on real paper, I handed over the original artwork for this cartoon portrait to the client without scanning it to keep a digital version for my portfolio. Well, I came across the original blue pencil drawing I made and decided to ink it all over again so I could show you what a great retirement gift a caricature can be!

Of course, I don’t aim to make people look goofy in my caricatures.  My approach is to make images that posit an empowering interpretation of the people depicted. This beloved church minister was famous for riding his bike everywhere, reading lots of books, and delivering his sermons with a great sense of humour. The congregation commissioned this cartoon portrait as a retirement gift to honour his service to the community.

-- Scott Mooney

 

OSCIA Illustration

The Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association had me create the cutest map project I've done to date!

This little farm map shows all the environmentally friendly features that farmers can get funding to build on their farms.  Including wildlife corridors, Swallow houses, turtle nesting sites, hibernaculums (hibernaculi?), wild grass meadows, treed windbreakers and much much more!


I created this as vector art to make it super easy to adapt the illustration for later iterations.  Objects can easily be moved around on the map and magically stay in perspective!

Need a cute and super clear info map made? Now you know who to call on.  Me!

Scott Mooney
scott@moon-man.com.


#foodcrisis: A Feeding 9 Billion Graphic Novel

The book is launched and live on

Lulu for sale as an e-book and as a paper graphic novel

!    

The cover art is all me.  The pages posted below are penciled by me, inked and lettered by the excellent John Perlock.  Thanks also to Rocco Commisso who penciled seven of the other pages in the book.   And the story is of course by Evan Fraser, special thanks to him for his vision and for bringing me onto the project.  

You might want to check out some of the Whiteboard Animation videos Evan and I did together with Director of Photography, Dave Woodside.  You can scroll down this blog to March 2014 for a few of them, or go to Evan's site at https://feedingninebillion.com/.  This book too is part of his Feeding nine Billion Project.  

AIDS Committee Guelph

Here's my homage to 1990's stock illustration.  You used to see a lot of strangely surreal yet cartoony paintings of faceless characters, usually in business suits, doing symbolic corporate stuff like climbing ladders, leaping over obstacles, and working together as a team.  The only thing missing from mine here is the business suit!


Actually, this was an experiment in Corel Painter trying to make generic figures in conversation for the AIDS Committee of Guelph (now being rebranded as ARCH"), for a booklet about challenges and solutions of a "Magnetic" relationship.  "Magnetic" is a term given to a couple where one person is HIV positive and the other is HIV negative.  What a great community service project!

Anyway, after way too many hours of experimenting in Painter (don't worry, I'm not charging by the hour!) I decided to finally take the advice of my client/art director and revert to my normal style of essentially clear line coloured comic art.  Ended up with this, which I think is much better for the project.  Nice and light and friendly. Way less generic but still simple enough faces to relate to a lot of people.









Whiteboard Animation: Feeding Nine Billion

I've been doing a lot of Whiteboard Animation lately.  I love this project, both as a great creative opportunity and because of how valuable this information is to the human species.  It's based on the extensive research of Evan Fraser, who is the driver and director of these videos.

You'll notice these are numbered videos 2 through 5 on YouTube.  Video 1 was done by my buddy Scott Chantler, who got too busy making comics to continue on this project... lucky for me.  Go read Scott Chantler's comics.  He's awesome.  No, wait... first watch these videos, then read MY comics, then read Scott Chantler's Comics. ;-)

Instructions Comic Strip for Foldigo

Well I don't want to spoil the end of the Livingston and Friends "Tournament" Story for you all here, but oddly I'm as excited about how the instructions turned out as the foldable toy itself.  I'm a bit geeky that way, since I love instructional and educational comics.

Yes, our first series, Livingston and Friends; The Tournament, is complete and will be shipping in mere days! Just look at all the fun you can have!  There'a plenty of other cool stuff included in the monthly package. If you haven't yet, check us out at www.foldigo.com.




Caricatures

Caricatures are a playful way to commemorate people's lives, relationships, careers, accomplishments, passions, and personalities.  These carefully rendered illustration projects make great gifts... and might I suggest would serve as fun avatars, educational or editorial art. ;-)

The Three Amigos
These men were a trio of close dear friends, in a friendship spanning many decades, filled with humour and fun.  This caricature was commissioned by Margaret Smith, the daughter of the fellow on the far left, as a commemoration on the occasion of his funeral.  What a fun and joyful way to celebrate the lives of these three wonderful men!

Margaret had a big batch of these printed up at 11x14" (A standard size for store-bought frames) to give away to the relatives of the guys.


It's one thing for me to look at some photos and make a likeness, but Margaret has a lifetime of impressions of her father that a few photos simply can't capture.  So Margaret and I worked back and forth to get her dad's appearance just right and she was super happy with the result... which makes me super happy too!

I asked Margaret If I could use her emailed words about it as a testimonial and she replied with "Absolutely !!!"  So here are those words, collected from the last few emails between us: "I am very excited!!!"  "That (caricature) is wonderful, thank you so much." and "I couldn't be happier.  Thank you so much for all your effort." and then the topper...
Hi Scott just wanted to let you know that your caricature was a huge hit.  All were thrilled and said it would be framed and hang in their homes.  You certainly told their story well.  Thank you again
– Margaret Smith 

Glencoe
Here is a sample of one I did years ago.  This is before I was working digitally and I didn't properly document or store the final inked version before giving it to the client. This is the tight pencil sketch, to show you how you can bring elements of stories from their lives into the image.  She was a musician who'd met René Levesque and had an incident with a hot poker.  He had shot a cobra in India in the '40s with a Sten gun during his military service and drove a motorcycle to Glencoe in Scotland.  This was for their 50th anniversary.



Honduras





The Wedding Gift



Historical Figure
For a comic book project, Charles de Salaberry was instrumental in Canada's successful defence of the American Invasion of 1812.  I drew this in 2012.






Three Amigos Caricature

Nope, not  Martin Short, Steve Martin and Chevy Chase.  This "Three Amigos" is a trio of close dear friends, in a friendship spanning many decades, filled with humour and fun.  This caricature was commissioned by Margaret Smith, the daughter of the fellow on the far left, as a commemoration on the occasion of his funeral.  What a fun and joyful way to celebrate the lives of these three wonderful men!
She had a big batch of these printed up at 11x14" (A standard size for store-bought frames) to give away to the friends and family.


It's one thing for me to look at some photos and make a likeness, but Margaret has a lifetime of impressions of her father that a few photos simply can't capture.  So Margaret and I worked back and forth to get her dad's appearance just right and she was super happy with the result... which makes me super happy too!

I asked Margaret If I could use her emailed words about it as a testimonial and she replied with "Absolutely !!!"  So here are those words, collected from the last few emails between us: "I am very excited!!!"  "That (caricature) is wonderful, thank you so much." and "I couldn't be happier.  Thank you so much for all your effort."  And to top it all off...
Hi Scott just wanted to let you know that your caricature was a huge hit.  All were thrilled and said it would be framed and hang in their homes.  You certainly told their story well.  Thank you again
– Margaret Smith 


"Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) for Kids" Comic

I've created this one-page comic to help anybody enhance their use of EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques).  I invite individuals and EFT practitioners alike to share and use this tool for free forever.

Several years ago I created a comic like this for adults.  Then recently an EFT practitioner named Tony Macelli, based in Malta, contacted me asking for permission to modify it for use with younger children. Tony felt the cartoon format would help the child relate more to the information.  

One thing led to another and we ended up collaborating to design this new version. I did all the artwork and the layout is almost identical to my old one.  Tony rewrote my words to be more kid friendly and suggested the thermometer element so kids could point with their finger to rate the level of their upset feelings without necessarily needing to know numbers or to speak aloud if they were feeling reluctant to speak.  

If you read the fine print at the bottom you'll see the comic is free for anyone to distribute, publish, host, photocopy, and share in whatever way, forever without limit.  My hope is that people will find this very useful and share it freely to help each other heal and grow.  If you need a higher resolution version of this for publication you can email me to request it, or google around for it and hopefully some other people will be hosting it somewhere that you can download the high resolution PDF.  At some point I'll figure out how to put a download link here in the blog.



Black and white is better for photocopying... especially if there will be photocopying of the photocopies.

Foldigo Cover Re-Do

After 6 hours redesigning the cover for Livingston issue 1 I look at both versions side by side and wonder why I insisted on creating a completely new illustration.  The old cover was too busy at the top, the titles were too hard to read, and Franchesca's  house doesn't' match the pop-up version I created for the craft kit.  The new cover has more free space at the top and simpler letters, and we get to see Livingston's excited face. So I think the new cover is a better solution.


Actually, The purple wasn't working for me.  She's supposed to be in the shade of her front porch, not a grape Kool-aid ice sculpture :-)  





M in the Abstract

My friend Douglas Davey recently launched his great new young adult book, "M in the Abstract" about a struggling teen who seems to have a particular ability.  Not only is he a writer and an avid consumer of story, Douglas is a parent, a teacher, a librarian, and so has a particular insight into the minds and culture of young people that I seem to have forgotten (my teen years being more than half my life ago), until reading this book.    Really touching, beautifully written.  This is my reinterpretive doodle inspired by the cover of the book.  It's a great read even if you're no longer a teenager.  I recommend it.


Foldigo Issue 3 Is In The Can!

... in the film making sense... nothing to do with the bathroom... although that is where I get some of my best creative ideas.

Here's a sneak peek at issue 3... my favorite most exciting foldigo cover art yet.  There's a real trick to making cover art, I'm finding.  If you can believe it after all these years of making comics I've rarely designed a cover.  I'm always drawing interior story art or making coverless short stories.  Anyway, I'm starting to get the hang of it, I think.  Keep it simple, make it pop, don't clutter up the top quarter where the titles need to go, use imagery that grabs people's attention.  Now I want to go back and redesign the cover for issue #1 with these principles in mind.  Hmmm...

Doesn't this make you want to click over to www.foldigo.com and buy a subscription to Livingston and Friends?  Only $11.95 and you get short comics and a bunch of paper crafts to go with the story.  But wait!  There's more! :-P  There's also a bunch of free downloadable paper crafts too. Cool, right? :-)  Check it out.



Foldigo Comics and Toys, First Issue Launched!

I'm part of a really cool startup called Foldigo. We create foldable toys and stories delivered to you by good ol' fashioned snail mail.  The kids at the test session had a great time folding up their foldable characters, and now the comic is complete. The first issue of our first available subscription is now available!  We have a facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/Foldigo) with updates and photos of the toys and if you Like the page you'll be kept in the loop of how things are developing.

I had a lot of fun creating the story, with a fun cast of characters and a positive message... I even snuck in a little math lesson into one of the gags... I'm tricky that way :-).  Here's what the comic cover looks like:




Frozen Globes

This got me one of my favorite client responses ever.  Says editor, Guy Quenneville upon receiving final art, "WOW - HOLY CRAP. That's stunning."  Have I mentioned I love working with these guys?  This was art directed by Mike Ericsson, who also art directed the Supergiants illustration (scroll down to June 2011 here in the blog to see it).


UpHere Business Magazine is starting an annual awards ceremony to recognize successful businesses and entrepreneurs in Northern Canada.  The awards are called the Frozen Globes.  They asked me to design an illustration to promote this.  I figured it should look like something that could be turned into an actual award trophy so, to give them the option, the glacial lettering is designed to be isolatable as a pedestal to hold the icy globe above.  I imagine the whole thing made out of coloured glass, maybe with a little LED light inside, and a Star Wars style hologram making the Northern lights shimmer above it.

UpHere Business Magazine Gig

Got another fun job with UpHere Business last month (http://www.uphere.ca/).  For an article about Nasa's recent discovery of a planet 5 times the mass of Earth and 1/3 composed of diamonds.  In a comic book universe this would pose a serious threat to the diamond industry in the Northwest Territories.  Premier of NWT Bob McLeod depicted as a superhero come to save the industry.  Special thanks to Guy Quenneville and the other editors at UpHere for choosing me for the gig and being such great collaborators.