Art Showcase – Avatar Korra: The Legend

TV Spotlight Character – Avatar Korra

Show: The Legend of Korra – Book 1: Air (c) by Nickelodeon

(all characters belong to Nickelodeon)

For our first Art Showcase let me introduce you to Black-pantheress who digitally penned our Korra (twice!) below- visit her DeviantArt page for more amazing work!

 

So, I love this show. I started it recently, and it’s almost impossible to turn off. It hits pretty much every spot in terms of fantasy and character, and has some of the most badass women in it ever. This is a post for Korra, but if you decide to watch it keep an eye on Lin Beifong and Asami Sato (who starts out cliché, subsequently swiping that aside).

Anyway, Korra. In Book 1: Air, she’s seventeen, has been known as the Avatar for almost her entire life, and is a reincarnation of the previous Avatar Aang (from The Last Airbender). She must master all four elements – which is called ‘bending’ and looks like the above amazeballs pic – to bring balance to the world. Problem is, Korra’s only mastered three abilities – her native tribe’s water (she’s from the Southern Water Tribe near the South Pole), and fire & earth. With the oncoming visit of Tenzin, the last Airbender mentor in the world and son of Aang (though his children are also airbenders) she’s excited for the chance to complete the set. But Tenzin has to go back to the city to quell some disputes and can’t stay in the south. So Korra, determined to master her destiny, heads off in pursuit on her polar bear-dog without his knowledge. Yep. Polar bear-dog.

Mako: You’re the Avatar. And I’m an idiot.

Korra: Both true.

The animators never shy away from making sure she has all the humour and silliness of expression in a girl her age. They also dress her appropriately; no weird, skimpy bikini things that fall off as soon as someone breathes, but actual clothes. I know, right? They put her in situations that girls who are determined to be ‘cool’ would never venture into, get her messed up and muddied and bloodied (as far as a family friendly animation can). She’s impatient and passionate, excitable and enthusiastic, but she has a sharpness when necessary and makes plenty of teenage mistakes, still learning about who she is in a new culture. In her friendships she is fiercely loyal and brave, and the romantic relationship in Book 1 is stubborn and entirely sweet.

Jinora: Ooh! I just read a historical saga where the heroine fell in love with the enemy general’s son, who was supposed to marry the princess. You should do what she did!

Korra: Tell me!

Jinora: She rode a dragon into battle and burned down the entire country. Then she jumped into a volcano. It was so romantic.

Ikki: No, no, no! The best way to win a boy’s heart is to brew a magic potion out of rainbows and sunsets, that makes two lovers sprout wings and fly to a magical castle in the sky, where they get married and eat clouds with spoons and use stars as ice cubes in their moonlight punch, forever and ever and ever!

Korra: The volcano is starting to make more sense to me now.dddd

Incredibly complex for an animated character, Korra is utterly compelling and instantly likeable. She’s a good person, and she surrounds herself with good people, which is a strong quality of the show.

Sure it’s animation, sure it’s family friendly, but it doesn’t retract from the fact it knows what’s a good message and what isn’t. It knows how to represent people from all walks of life, cultures and ethnicities and finds a way to expose the good in most of them (obvs. some are baddies…), and in this Korra is far away from the churned out rubbish that lazily attempts to represent female characters, or, any characters at all who are meant to be realistic.

One of the most important aspects for me is that sex and/or gender is never used as subjugation. Never does someone tell Korra she, or anyone else for that matter, can’t do something because of her age, sex, gender or colour or any other invented barrier. It is accepted as fact she can, and for me that is one of the most enjoyable aspects of stories like this, and incredibly important for the younger generations watching. Plus she’d probably tell them where to stick it. She might be animated, but I would go with what this series teaches over much else I see in the world or on the box.

Tenzen: “Please Korra, look at Menzen. He’s able to meditate peacefully.”

Korra: “Actually, I think he’s asleep.”

 

Don’t forget to visit Black-pantheress at DeviantArt, for lending us these stunning digital artworks!

Constance Lindon: Stud Whisperer

Character: Constance Lindon

Text: The Marquess’ Masquerade (Dastardly Lords #2) by Daphne du Bois

*SOME SPOILERS AHEAD*

Villers1

Self-portrait by Marie-Denise Villers.

Miss Constance Lindon, like all other well-bred young ladies, is eager for her first Season. But not to wear pretty clothes and prance around trying to rise in Society and find a husband before becoming an old maid. She is far more interested in having her artwork displayed at the Royal Academy at the next exhibition; her biggest dream and everything she yearns for. But her plan is scuppered when the Royal Academy decides that the dastardly lord of the novel, Athelcroft, is given her space in the gallery. Unfortunately she is little credited for her talent, being female as she is, and not of the temperament to be painting seductresses as Athelcroft does. Con is much too well-mannered and high-born to lower herself to such lusty displays in her artwork.

“Lord Athelcroft’s work will draw a much bigger crowd than the idyllic landscapes and baskets of kittens at which young lady artists so often excel” … Con had never painted a basket of kittens in her life, but she doubted very much that pointing that out would do her any good.

So annoyed she is it drives her to something verging on scandalous; she visits Athelcroft, a renowned rake, at his home, unaccompanied.

Now, Constance is known to her friends and family as a very quiet, straight as an arrow, risk-free kind of girl. She is. And she spends most of her time painting, not doing annoying things that society tells her she must (like shopping for bonnets, this is tiresome). She prefers the quiet, away from the bustle of business that doesn’t include invoking creativity – so the pure audacity to visit a man she has never met, with a reputation such as his, is uncompromisingly dangerous for her reputation. But she will get that space back. She is also much too strong-willed to allow someone – even the renowned Lord Athelcroft – to take away what could very well give her the future she is striving for. To be a professional artist. To own a gallery. Nothing else would complete her.

When she enters Athelcroft’s house, alone, she is introduced to a man who is renowned for his rakish behaviour, and senses something in his presence she hasn’t before, but nothing puts her off. She will have her spot in the RA exhibition no matter what. Not even his preposterous proposal that they fake a romance and engagement for the Season to get his mother off his back. Disinterested in anything but her artwork, least of all looking for a husband, the plan, though absurd, seems simple enough. As it goes, the cunning and devilry of his plan sparks a previously undisturbed desire to have a little fun. She is even talked into a joint venture with him:

 “If you mean I must sit for you, I know too well-“

“I do not. It would be a waste of your talent. I mean for you to paint with me. A collaboration to be unveiled in a month, when the exhibition formally opens. A single painting to out-do all the others. Light and Dark, Purity and Corruption, rendered in oils.”

Note there that little compliment he ushered into the conversation? Yep.

Sweet but kinda sexy, and properly flaunting the bling: Elena Aleksandrovna Naryshkina portrait by Vladimir Lukich Borovikovsky (1799)

What is wonderful about the story of Constance is that she never loses touch of what she wants. She doesn’t give up painting and dash off into the sunset as a silent wife the very moment there is a sniff of wedding bells (nor would the hero of this story let her) – at every turn her life is enveloped in art, and everything that unfolds is because of the shared passion.

The relationship she develops with Athelcroft, suspicious for a good portion due to his reputation, is subsequently corrected by her own experiences with him and his family. They are both artists. They both share the intoxicating lifestyle of art, and constantly learn from each other, whether it be new styles of painting, or a wicked wit, past secrets or a deep sensuality. Constance doesn’t leap head first into a relationship with someone who gave her a compliment or something more shallow, then having to pull herself out of it, she is instead pulled in almost unknowingly with the natural tide. It is her appreciation and handling of this which sets her apart from more soppy heroines who lose sight of their senses the moment they plummet into love. Her drive and self-confidence gives her the means to not even allow failure to enter the equation in her career choice. She will be a painter, and she will have her spot at the gallery. But she still has room in her life and heart, that she didn’t realise was there, which enhances and expands her character and experience, but never defines who she is. Though, the strength of it causes her to be fearful it might:

“To love you would be to give up myself surely. And myself is all I know. I am afraid of that.”

However, she had good taste in men:

“Balderdash!” the Marquess exclaimed. “Give up yourself? Never. Not yourself and not your paints – unless you decide that you no longer care for them. where did you hear such a thing?”

With her richness of spirit, Con turns around the actions, and subsequent heart, of her opposite, through engaging him mentally, artistically and finally physically. I don’t want to ruin the story but there are some surprises to our young Con that I didn’t expect, and rejoiced in! That there is the full package of one fine lady. Constance is the level of Elizabeth Bennet in intellect and wit, and everything Lizzie had with spiritual freedom and muddy boots, Con had in her art and perseverance.

“I haven’t the least intention of being the sacrifice to anyone’s slaughter.”

That is not romantic verse. It is Homer’s Odyssey. Kitty Packe painted by Sir William Beechey circa 1818-1821.

I think what is important about romance stories is that it is not all about sex. I’m not a prude, a pro-virginity (or vice versa – I don’t care what you do with it) spokesperson, or one of those creepy people who thinks it’s OK to stick fingers into someone else’s vagina to ‘prove’ they’re not tainted with having tasted the sins of the flesh – which, by the way, not a sin, and not proof. No. What is important, though the story is a romance in genre, is it equalises all the important parts about journeying through the lost art of courtship, and learning about a partner, their passion and needs, before committing to one deeply.

“I do not much care about your son’s past reputation. No more than I care about romantic verse. He is contrary, certainly, and often quite difficult, but I find that I like him regardless of that. …I will tell you the same thing as I told my sister. Athelcroft is much more interesting than any common rake.”

Women had few choices in those days besides being a wife, and though, obviously, the pleasures of flesh were not uncommonly experienced for either sex (otherwise the word illegitimate would have had no bearing anywhere in history…) they did know how to forge partnerships. Constance is certainly one of those women whose foray into the arena of love was not intentional, and who was dragged through mistakes and misapprehensions in a whirlwind of chaos and adulation. The great thing is, it was thoroughly worth it, and she comes out the other side an even more deeply layered woman, and a particular favourite of mine.

‘And suddenly she did dare.’

 

Esther Lanark: Prophesy Girl

Character: Esther Lanark

Text: The Witch of Glenaster (The Lanark Chronicles #1) by Jonathan Mills

*SPOILERS AHEAD* 

lyra

Lyra Belacqua from Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series : another little girl who puts her strong will and intellect to good use.

After her village is razed to the ground by huge beasts called fire-drakes, Esther finds herself alone and stranded with her younger brother, Magnus, and nowhere to go. That is until she learns the fire-drakes are evil entities controlled by the Witch of Glenaster. Having previously made a pact to herself to destroy the witch when she was older and stronger, this catalyst causes her to instead embark upon the journey well before her intended time. And in her beautifully realised story, this is what makes her interesting and important.

“‘A couple of years and you’ll be wrestling the boys, I shouldn’t wonder…’

‘I can wrestle them now!’ I replied, and the men laughed again, though my father frowned, and I knew some joke had been made at my expense.”

She’s not taken particularly seriously by the people around her initially, but what I love about this character is that no matter the amount of people who tell her the intentions she bears cannot be done she does not bow to it. Nor does she expect anyone to follow her and bear the burden. Esther is fully prepared to take the journey alone, one of my absolute favourite traits in characters, and the key one in Esther whose own stubbornness raises the stakes in her journey, but also keeps you pumped up to the fact she might actually do it.

‘You did not bring us this way. We would have come anyway. If it is me the Witch wants, then I will continue my journey alone, and you will all be safer without me.”

lucy

In Narnia, as the youngest Pevensie sibling, Lucy is usually underestimated due to her age.

Esther’s story wouldn’t be complete if she didn’t have obstacles in her way. Apart from the witch’s servants, strange ghoulish men of the woods, the fire-drakes and fiery apparitions that manage to find her on the way, she has her younger brother, runny-nosed and heavily distraught, to take care of. Their relationship tumbles through sweetness, and bitterness, broken promises and rare delight. She can’t abandon him, they have no family, it’s up to her to be sure he is taken to safety. She manages to maintain a level head and doting perseverance through his mood swings which would have already gotten the better of me as a grown adult…

Then there is Thomas Taper – a mysterious traveller who offers to accompany the children on their mission to the Citadel. Where many characters could have been ruined by the adult coming to the rescue in a sticky situation, and allowed them to take the lead, Esther never loses her drive, ensuring him she will carry out her intentions when she has delivered her brother to safety. Her pure spirit and honest intentions claim Thomas’ respect and also his loyalty.

naughty

Enid Blyton’s Naughtiest Girl, Elizabeth Allen, was always headstrong, wilful and up for adventure.

But Esther’s obsession with the witch explodes when she discovers she might actually be the the key to defeating her, to the point she puts herself and her brother in danger, and pushes Thomas to fury. Every time she insists she must carry out her duty she stands corrected, but fate ties Esther’s future inexplicably with the witch, and her journey continues. Esther’s growth from carefree, ridiculed nobody in the middle of nowhere to strong, independent and respected freedom fighter, who never believes what she intends to do is impossible, is an inspiring journey worth following.

“There is fear where we are going, and horror. I know you would not flinch from it, for you are stronger in heart and mind than most grown men…”

Esther Lanark encompasses the most innocent kind of bravery. She knows right and wrong, but she is too young to fully comprehend the dangers and complexities of the path she chooses, and how it will affect everyone around her. She sees the bigger picture only, the singular problem in her life that has caused so much grief – removing it will fix everything. And this is why her journey is important; through the eyes of this twelve-year-old girl there is only one true determination, and it is little tarnished by the thoughts and will of the adults around her – instead it is her own will that changes their perspectives.

Sarah Harding: Dino Slayer

Character: Sarah Harding

Text: The Lost World, by Michael Crichton

**SPOILERS AHEAD**

lctrex

This is not Sarah Harding. It’s Lara Croft in a remarkably apt image. But if you’ve seen The Lost World you might understand why I choose not to associate this character with whoever that imposter was.

Sarah Harding spends most of the first half of The Lost World, well, not really in it much. Mostly because she’s off studying hyenas on the plains of Africa, you know, sciencey brain-work stuff. She exists in these first pages more as this legendary figure – the hero of thirteen-year-old Kelly, a smart but rather lonely girl – and also as sometime not-quite-but-possibly partner of Ian Malcolm, which is alluded to briefly but never acted upon. There is no romantic sub-plot, by the way, if you were worried.

‘Harding compact and muscular, looking young and energetic, in shorts and tee shirt, her short black hair pushed up on her forehead with sunglasses. Her field of study was African predators; lions and hyenas, and she was scheduled to return to Nairobi the next day.’

Harding works as an animal behaviourist in the field alone, and studies those carnivores working at night with her one guide. She’s famous for being tough and resilient – once trekking twenty miles of the Savannah after a car breakdown, and fending off lions by launching rocks at them. Because African Savannah 101: you don’t run from lions.

arya

Arya Stark is more Sarah Harding than the movie imposter, too.

When she’s invited to join the expedition to Isla Sorna, though unaware of exactly what they’re looking for, she’s intrigued enough to go because she can’t help herself. Her resilience is soon tested when she boards a boat to the island with lead mean guy Dodgson, and finds herself overboard, fighting for life in the waters off the coast of her destination. From that point on Sarah Harding’s ‘take no BS’ button is permanently pressed. Plus, that Dodgson guy, yeah, he’s gets his comeuppance for the boat thing.

‘…she saw that tyrannosaur has his legs in its jaws, and was pulling Dodgson out from under the car. Dodgson wrapped his hand round her boot, trying to drag her with him, trying to hold on. She put her other boot on his face and kicked hard. He let go.’

xena

Surely there was someone in the 90s who could have played a dark haired bad ass in that film. Anyone? You’d believe the raptor punch with this lady wouldn’t you? WOULDN’T YOU?

Harding is a woman who stands back and assesses the situation, ekes out the details until she has the answer she needs, then takes action. And when she takes action, it’s all action. While some other characters are huddled in the corner or already stewing in the belly of the beasts, she’s measuring and taking those risks to get what they need to survive and get the hell off that island. She rescuing Malcolm from a T-Rex attacked trailer falling of the edge of a cliff. She’s punching raptors in the face on a motorbike.

PUNCHING RAPTORS IN THE FACE. ON A MOTORBIKE.

But one the best achievements of her appearance in this book is the inspiration she provides Kelly. You should never meet your heroes. Except perhaps, if you hero is Sarah Harding. Kelly’s character is strengthened and enhanced by her brief acquaintance with her hero which ultimately inspires her to find her own inner strength, which was a good, strong message.

“All your life, other people will try to take your accomplishments away from you. Don’t you take it away from yourself.”

The book itself I wasn’t overly impressed with, but I don’t care what anyone says, nor how ridiculous the story and situation is, or even if it’s hard to imagine someone being that frickin’ cool: when you’ve got someone creating as much damn action as Sarah Harding, it’s hard not to jump along for the ride.

And OK. Maybe the raptor thing is on a par with inspiring young women.