SARANGU - The Visual Narrative

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SARANGU’s WORLD The Visual Narrative BY FABRIZIO ELLUL

A FILFLA STUDIO E-PUBLICATION

#2


THE SARANGU’S WORLD - THE VISUAL NARRATIVE Published in December 2020 as an e-publication. A Filfla Studio e-publication: #2 You can find this publication: https://filfla.studio/e-books/ A project supported by Arts Council Malta : the Malta Arts Fund - Special Call

Layout and production by Fabrizio Ellul www.filfla.studio

Copyright text, art work and illustrations © Fabrizio Ellul All rights reserved.

This e-book is being made available for free as an educational tool on the condition that it may not be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted, in whole or in part, including photographs, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior written permission from the author.

THE SARANGU’S WORLD - THE VISUAL NARRATIVE | FABRIZIO ELLUL - A FILFLA STUDIO e-PUBLICATION


THE SARANGUʼS WORLD THE VISUAL NARRATIVE FABRIZIO ELLUL A Filfla Studio e-publication

The project is supported by Arts Council Malta


PROJECT DESCRIPTION The project intends to explore the use of visual narratives for graphic art and storyboarding through the use of an international virtual workshop with Kenyan graphic artist Chief Nyamweya at a time of government restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic leading to isolation and closure of borders. This project intends to look into the use of technology and new media to overcome such obstacles and continue to see international collaborations flourish during a period of global restrictions. TITLE An artistic research in the use of visual narratives for graphic art and storyboarding through the use of international virtual workshops. BACKGROUND In December 2019 I was awarded a research grant by Arts Council Malta for the research question: Applying traditional methods of Fine Arts and Research methodology to graphic arts utilizing the case study of the 1813 Malta black plague to form the ʻworldʼ of a graphic novel around the mythological figure of ʻSarangu - the sack manʼ The research was finalised in May 2020. The research provided me with the opportunity to explore my skills as a visual artist working in the traditional medium of Fine Arts (paintings and drawings) as well and adapt them my skills into graphic art. I also built on over 10 years of working experience in communication and education. The research benefited from the collaboration with writer Teodor Reljic who provided valuable insight on how to construct a story arc. A number of objectives were reached: From a purely documentation point of view, I was able to conduct research on the 1813 Bubonic

Plague; thus having a solid understanding of where my story will be placed. I was able to study early 19th century Fine Arts painting to better understand Malta of 1813. It should be of no surprise that Malta was by far more rural. Certain urban areas such as Gzira did not exist. The Lazzaretto Hospital was the health centre for quarantine on Manoel Island. The vibrant Valletta Fish market now no longer exists. St Paulʼs Street was one of the poorest areas in Valletta and the area where the plague started … in other words, I was able to create a World ...or at part of it ... The other part of this world is inhibited by creatures and demons that form part of Maltese folk. It is a fascinating world to navigate. Most of these creatures are now ʻextinctʼ - no one tells their story anymore. From this project - The Sarangu’s World - a Work Bookʼ was published as an e-book and uploaded on www.filfla.studio. I believe there is space for these creatures (including the many portals that they used!) to exist in Malta. Maybe they can co-exist together. This is the case of Japanese culture - where in Manga and Anime, both worlds are interconnected with ease: people, demons and spirits travel connected between these worlds through portals. I feel this ʻextinctionʼ is due to how we have tackled tackled Maltese folk so far: not as an evolving subject but rather as a historical one - something that needs to be preserved. I must say that when I started this project I had this idea in mind - that of a ʻrescue operationʼ. The excellent works of Fr Emanuel Magri and Stephen D. Mifsud (The Maltese Bestiaryʼ) have been precisely this - to preserve. Throughout this research projects I learnt that the only way to keep Maltese folk alive is not only to preserve the historical side of them, but also to build on them, to use them, mould them into storytelling. Because this is what they are - beautiful stories, told, for many reasons, by our grandparents, and they need to be retold … but they need to be re-told in a different language.

Adding, subtracting into something else. For this reason we need to free them from the historical/academic mould and place them into popular culture. It is in popular culture that myths live. One of the best mediums to reflect popular culture are graphic novels. * The above description covered part of the initial research question. The other one was how - as a traditional visual artist - I was able to translate all this in a medium that I am not that familiar with - graphic art. For this I had to evolve a style that I felt comfortable with. For this purpose I worked on an ipad pro using the procreate app. I modified a brush to produce a ʻhard edgeʼ style and establish a 3 colour system for the character development - A base colour complemented with light and shade. After some failures, I feel I have reached a certain level of competence. I also worked on light and shade - drawing inspiration from the chiaroscuro as applied by Caravaggio and the Spanish School but also from Digital games - such as ʻInsideʼ. This helped me by providing a dynamic effect to the picture and a better understanding of form for a 2d object. In collaboration with the Malta School of Art this experience will be translated into a series of workshops with the aim to use these workshops as a learning curve to integrate Fine Arts methods with Digital Art. I believe that it is an area worth exploring. Very often, Fine Arts and Digital art seem separate from each. Very few seem to be able to navigate both arts. One such artist is Alberto Mielgo - it is clear that both arts influence each other.

THE SARANGU’S WORLD - THE VISUAL NARRATIVE | FABRIZIO ELLUL - A FILFLA STUDIO e-PUBLICATION


Alberto Mielgo - oil paintings and Graphic Art - albertomielgo.com

In particular in Malta, where practice based degrees in Fine Arts and Digital Art are relatively new. I feel that there is room to create new niches on this particular subject. The advantages to me are quite obvious - we could create a new area of employment for artists without in fact losing anything from what makes traditional use of Fine Arts (painting and drawing) such an enduring medium. A WORD ON VISUAL NARRATIVE During this research I started posing a question that drives this current projecty - How do you translate the above into a coherent narrative (being it storyboarding for animation or graphic novels …)? And as an artist predominantly working in the visual narrative - how can I create a narrative with little text as possible? How can I have an image speak for itself?

The project will entail an in depth exploration of the visual narrative into graphic art using elements derived from Maltese folk. To this extent the project made use of a series of workshops with Chief Nyamweya, a Kenyan based graphic designer and animator, to carry out these workshops acting as mentor and tutor throughout these workshops. He is the founder of Freehand Studios. The workshops were conducted virtually from Kenya and Malta.

A FOLLOW UP PUBLICATION The publication should be seen as a follow and companion to ʻThe Saranguʼs World - A world bookʼ, which was released for free as an e-publication in Mat 2020 following a collaboration with writer Teodor Reljic and supported by Arts Council Malta. This project and publication is again possible with the support of Arts Council Malta through the Malta Arts Fund Special Call which continued to support professional artists through the difficult and unique year that 2020 was. For this I am very grateful. I hope these two publication will help the reader understand and appreciate the complexity of creating an immersive world.

It is not a simple question to answer. Advertising text acts as an ʻanchorʼ to the image. If it is not like that the receiver might ʻdecodeʼ advert differently from what the ʻproducerʼ intended. In Fine Art paintings they used gestures and affetti to express emotions or transmit signs.

THE SARANGU’S WORLD - THE VISUAL NARRATIVE | FABRIZIO ELLUL - A FILFLA STUDIO e-PUBLICATION


CONTENT

PREFACE

3. CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT AND DESIGN

- PROJECT DESCRIPTION

- DEVELOPING THE CHARACTER DESIGN

- PROJECT TITLE

- THE HERO

- BACKGROUND

- THE SARANGU

- A WORD ON VISUAL NARRATIVE

- THE GIRL

- A FOLLOW UP PUBLICATION SARANGU - A MALTESE FOLKTALE 1. THE STORY ARC BONUS MATERIAL TO DOWNLOAD - THE THESIS - THE ANTI-THESIS - THE RESOLUTION

2. THE VISUAL NARRATIVE

- BRIDGING TRADITIONAL FINE ARTS WITH GRAPHIC ARTS - SO WHAT IS FRAME BY FRAME ANIMATIONS? - AN EXAMPLE: MR TEDDY IS ANGRY - THE 3X3 LAYOUT - BLOCK THUMBNAILS

THE SARANGU’S WORLD - THE VISUAL NARRATIVE | FABRIZIO ELLUL - A FILFLA STUDIO e-PUBLICATION


Study of a landscape

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1. The story arc

THE SARANGU’S WORLD - THE VISUAL NARRATIVE | FABRIZIO ELLUL - A FILFLA STUDIO e-PUBLICATION


Developing the story arc of a graphic novel or novel (regardless of its length) is crucial. The point of this section is to provide a brief outline on how a story arc is created and how this format was utilized for the current arc of the ʻSarangu - a Maltese folktaleʼ. This is the main method used in traditional storytelling. Of course, other methods exist but this one is the most common one. We can say that the story arc is divided into three sections - the thesis, the anti-thesis and resolution. 1. The Thesis This is the introduction. It should not be too long. Its role is to introduce us to the what we can call the ʻold worldʼ. It is ʻoldʼ only because it is soon to be replaced by the anti-thesis - which we can hence then call ʻthe new worldʼ. In the case of the ʻSarangu - a Maltese folktaleʼ the ʻold worldʼ is 1813 Malta during an outbreak of the Bubonic Plague. It is thus a terrific world - one in which the plague is ravishing Maltese cities and towns. The British authorities (Malta at the time was a British colony) had set-up a number of familiar measures closing up public events and quarantine towns among other measures to prevent the spread of the plague. In all this a man (our hero ... All stories need a hero!) is locked up in his home grieving the loss of his daughter - who disappeared some time ago under some mysterious circumstances. For a story to be interesting it needs to jump to the ʻnew worldʼ. To do so it requires that ‘catalyst’ moment that helps our audience make the jump from the ʻoldʼ to the ʻnewʼ world.

THE SARANGU’S WORLD - THE VISUAL NARRATIVE | FABRIZIO ELLUL - A FILFLA STUDIO e-PUBLICATION

Maps and ex-voto paintings on the 1813 Bubonic plague in Malta


2. The Anti - Thesis The catalyst moment of the graphic novel is the meeting of our hero with the ʻthree magical creaturesʼ. It is a moment that radically changes the world view of our hero. The creatures are not from this world. This is clear enough. So if they are not from this world - then from where are they? A debate ensues. It is precisely this debate that needs to happen for our hero to leave behind his world to take on this new adventure. But why should he leave everything behind to go on this adventure? What is his motivation? What are the incentives? How is he convinced? His daughter is still alive but trapped somewhere. He needs to find her, save her and while he is there save humanity from the terrible events unfolding outside. The moment he steps out of his house, he steps in the ʻnew worldʼ - the anti-thesis. It is here that the bulk of the story happens.

Concept arts developed for the Saranguʼs World in preparation for the graphic novel ʻSarangu - a Maltese folktale. Some of these works appeared in volume one.

From here the hero needs to get from point A to point B. The task of the storyteller is to create as much hurdles and problems as possible to make his adventure an interesting one for us to follow. I also imagined this part of the adventure similar to when we go traveling. Part of the ʻfunʼ of traveling is taking snapshots of the things we see. In the case of our hero it would be the ghouls, imps and the giants of Maltese folk that we encounter on our way. The journey of the hero is not only physical. The point A and B does not only exist in the physical world - it also exists in the metaphysical world. So now the question is what sort of growth does our hero go through? What obstacles are we going to put in his way for him to grow and have our audience relate to him?

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3. The Resolution It is here that we need to drag our hero to great depths both physical and mental. Our audience will grow with him too. At some point we need to conclude our story. The hero reaches Point B. But what are the questions that he needs to answer? What resolution does he arrives?

* Concept arts developed for the Saranguʼs World in preparation for the graphic novel ʻSarangu - a Maltese folktale

The above was used as the backbone story arc for ʻSarangu - the Maltese folkʼ. The graphic novel goes into more complex detail with additional side stories. However, the above description can easily be used as a template for any story being it drama or comedy.

*

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2. The visual narrative

THE SARANGU’S WORLD - THE VISUAL NARRATIVE | FABRIZIO ELLUL - A FILFLA STUDIO e-PUBLICATION


However, it was Studio Ghilbiʼs magical realism works such as ʻPonyoʼ and ʻMy Neighbour Totoroʼ that continued to popularize frame-by frame animation or cell-animation.

BRIDGING TRADITIONAL FINE ARTS WITH DIGITAL ARTS Part of the project being developed is how to bridge traditional form of fine arts with graphical arts.

Following a period of 3-D animation with the work of Pixar animation in the development of ʻToy Storyʼ, Frame by Frame animation is again going through a period of great interest through works such as ʻI lost my Body (A French production), Claus (Spanish Production) and Alberto Mielgo.

The idea of developing a graphic novel is also partly motivated by practical reasons. Developing a full animation cost money (lots of money! ... A low budget animation is estimated to be around the 5M Euro region!) and is less time consuming. It is good to keep in mind that Filfla Studio was set-up as a 2D animation studio focusing on traditional frame-by-frame animation. The choice of the graphic novel layout - which thanks to Arts Council Malta can now be developed - is influenced by this necessity to create a 2D animation. Essentially, a graphic novel is a storyboard. So What is frame by frame animation? Frame by Frame animation is a traditional form of animation similar in concept to stop motion - essentially to draw/paint every frame. Usually, an animation has 25 frames per second. Thus, each second has 25 different frames which need to be drawn, coloured and shaded. In the case of Mr Teddy is Angry (A Filfla Studio production) - I am working with a 12.5 frames per second with good results. The frame by frame animation is a 2-D form of animation employed by Disney in the very early animation works such as the Mickey Mouse films.animation or cell-animation. 2-D animation continued to grow with Disney classics such as Cinderella, Snow white and One Hundred and One Dalmatians. It continued to be popularized in the 1980s through Anime productions, mainly in Japan through classics such as Akira and others.

Poster for ʻPonyoʼ - a Studio Ghilbi production

Screenshots: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M2ORkIrHUbg

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2D animation has seen a revival in recent times also partly to these two great animations: I Lost my hands - a French production (entirely funded through different French funds) and Klaus - a Spanish production. Both works appeared on Netflix.

Tips Here I am just putting down some points that I found very useful when constructing the story: - Less is more. I try to simplify to what is really important - Show, don’t tell. Try not to rely too much on text. Use text only when needed. - Be personal. Be true. I found this tip very useful and true. People tend to relate more when they can see you are being honest and not putting up a show. - Show conflict. This is important. All good stories need to have some form of conflict. - Focus. Just like less is more. Keep your focus. It easy to go at tangents and get lost into the details. This is why it is important to conduct a good research and have a clear story arc.

A story of Naoufel, a young man who is in love with Gabrielle. In another part of town, a severed hand escapes from a dissection lab, determined to find its body again.

A simple act of kindness always sparks another, even in a frozen, faraway place. When Smeerensburg's new postman, Jesper, befriends toymaker Klaus, their gifts melt an age-old feud and deliver a sleigh full of holiday traditions.

- Keep moving. Keep the movement going. This will help your audience engaged to your story.

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Mr Teddy is Angry For Mr Teddy is Angry, the same principle is being used. Here is an example of a shot. For this example just three key frames are being shown one at the beginning, middle and end scene. In this case I used live footage for the movement. The first stage is to make the rough outline drawing which is followed by a clean outline drawing - as the case of the three images below. This exercise is then repeated for each frame by adding colour, shadow and after the background scene. After this, the scene is better integrated in the composition and editing phase of the post-production phase. I am currently in the production phase. The scene is then integrated in the composition and ready for the editing post-production phase. For the production of this short animation I am using mainly free or low budget softwares/applications without compromising on the quality. For the backdrop I mainly used the procreate app and for the animation the open source software - Krita and photoshop. The influence of film animation influenced deeply the the layout for the graphic novel. In fact A 3X3 panel-grid was chosen for the layout of the GN. This choice was influenced by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons classic graphic novel ʻWatchmenʼ .

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A 3X3 layout There are some advantages - including some practical ones - in adopting a 3X3 grid line in particular if it is your first attempt to a graphic novel. - It provides consistency throughout the GN from beginning to end. Since this is my first GN, I prefer if more time is spent on the story and art work rather than the grid structure. - It is a particular flexible set-up that can provide for a multitude of combinations. The saliency be obtained by assimilating two or more panels together. - The uniform sequence would make it easier and less time consuming to adapt it into a storyboard for animation feature or series. - Given the very limited resources of the author - time management has impacted on the planning of this project. - The 3X3 panel-grid works well with the storyʼs main theme of parallel stories running next to each other. - The panels make it easier to include ʻrecollectionsʼ and ʻvisionsʼ that can run parallel with the narration of the story. The panels could easily be divided to have two stories running parallel with each other divided by the colour code. The 3X3 panel adds a value of ʻgameʼ to the story. - Given that one of the main themes of the story will be ʻportalsʼ or ʻspace-time wormholesʼ, the 3X3 panel grid offers the perfect opportunity to jump from one panel to another, without necessary obeying the ʻphysicsʼ of the layout.

The 3X3 grid template and its many different compositions, which makes it ideal for consistency and adaptation into storyboarding

THE SARANGU’S WORLD - THE VISUAL NARRATIVE | FABRIZIO ELLUL - A FILFLA STUDIO e-PUBLICATION


The 3X2 layout was popularized by the Watchmen but it can also be found in graphic novels such as the Walking Dead. The appeal of this layout is that it provides a ʻframe-byframeʼ feeling to the graphic novel, which is particular useful if it is going to be adapted into a motion picture. Its main drawback is that it can have a rather ʻslow paceʼ. This contrast with the more ʻsplashʼ approach found in Japanese manga (below) which opts for great dynamism and movement. However, deciding which best layout suits a particular page could be extremely time consuming and perhaps ill-advised for first timers.

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The 3X3 grid line can also provide for some interesting experiments. In the example below I carried out a preliminary study on how the story can be adapted using such paneling. In the ʻgreen flyʼ page the flies do not follow the ʻphysicsʼ of the layout and go above, through and under the panel-grid. The dark shadows adds an element of 3D to the picture. In the ʻDeath is hereʼ panel study I used the top panels as a triptych. While the panels did not reveal any new story per-se, I placed the first panel in the ʻlightʼ and the third in the ʻdarkʼ as a symbol of where the story is going - from light to darkness. The centre panel is dedicated to the first victim of the plague in the story - one of the crewmen of the San Nicola Brig. By assimilating three panels into one I was able to create an establishing shot of the San Nicola Brig arriving to Malta. Combined together, the two pages make for a coherent story with an interesting play around the 3X3 panel-grid layout. My general approach to the manuscript is that of creating block thumbnails to flesh out the story instead of having a script based manuscript first and then build the visuals around it.

Studies for ʻSarangu - a Maltese folktaleʼ graphic novel

The block thumbnails are meant to be sketches to visual the story. I believe this will provide more flexibility to the production of the graphic novel and is more suited for visual artists who are used to work in visual rather than textual terms. A strong formal use of light and shadow will be utilized throughout the graphic novel.

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A study of how the story can evolve through a simplified block storyboard

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Block thumbnails studies

The boy - A shadow of a hand creeps in. Boy lifts slightly his head to see who is coming. - The boy is no longer there.

THE SARANGU’S WORLD - THE VISUAL NARRATIVE | FABRIZIO ELLUL - A FILFLA STUDIO e-PUBLICATION


The walk to il Maqluba - Sarangu walks along the road that leads to il Maqluba - Sarangu descends the dark path to il Maqluba - Sarangu descends into Bufies the upside world - to offer the boy as sacrifice

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In the forest - The group is seen running from a bird’s eye view running in the forest. - We observe the group as if someone else is observing the group from a distance. - The man: “What is this light?” - The group is now observing others. - We are introduced to the ‘faceless children’.

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Man sees Daughter - Man: “Daughter!” - Man runs after her. We see him run - from his POV through trees and bushes. - Man screams “stop!” - Man falls to the ground. Close-up to face. Dejected he says: “why are you running away from me?”

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3.Character Development and Design

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Developing the character design for the main and secondary characters was and still remains one of the most challenging aspect of this project. There are different methods one can utilize. For instance if one is aiming for a more ʻcartoonishʼ approach then simplifying to the basic shapes of triangle, square and circle is the recommended approach.

Yellow, green, pink ... And different colours on top. I first realized this by observing the paintings of Lucien Freud. No print can ever do justice to Freudʼs mastery in bringing out the human flesh. So for me - the human skin is a complex landscape. How this translated to the graphic medium is a different matter altogether. I approached the ʻgraphic skinʼ by recalling Roy Lichtensteinʼs work (bottom) which also had a strong comic like feeling. I created a base colour - usually ʻolive greenʼ and a top dotted layer of a different hue, usually influenced by light or shade. By doing so I was able to create these different touches of colour using the graphic medium.

Top - Lucien Freud ʻBenefits Supervisor Sleepingʼ, 1995, oil on canvas.

The following pages provide a brief outline of the character development and some of the concept art developed for this project which will later be adapted into a graphic novel. Source: www.animatorisland.com - shorturl.at/dsxGV

In my case (because of the subject matter) I found this style not particular useful.

I provide also some explanation on the difficulties I face in developing certain areas of their character.

A concept art developed during the Saranguʼs World research project

So a more traditional realistic approach was sought. During the first research I carried out a number of studies on traditional early19th century Maltese costumes. This was particularly useful in developing some of the clothing of our hero. A hard edge style was then applied to the colour scheme which provided a rather dramatic outlook. The skin colour was also very challenging to get. Skin is not made up of one single monochrome colour but rather of different hues - with one base colour i.e.

Roy Lichtenstein, Shipboard Girl, 1965, offset lithograph on white wove paper sheet.

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THE HERO The hero is the main protagonist of the story. He is forced to face his own grief about the loss of his daughter. He goes to the search of the Sarangu - who he believes kidnapped her. During this extraordinary journey into Maltese folk and myth he is accompanied by three little magical creatures who guide him through the many dangers he will be facing. During this journey he will make some important discovers about himself and the Sarangu and how both him and IT are connected by time and space.

Concept art - exploring some ideas

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The three little magical creature are inspired by Japanese manga representation of spirits. While in Maltese myth spirits tend to be evil or troublemakers (such as the Xifajk!) in nature, there are instance where they are benevolent and willing to help the living. In this case I was inspired by Japanese representation as both as a tribute to the genre but also (since this is also aimed at an international audience) to broaden the aesthetic appeal and create characters that readers can relate to. As you might notice these creature tend to have a more cartoonish look so in this case I adopted the basic square, circle, triangle method.

THE SARANGU’S WORLD - THE VISUAL NARRATIVE | FABRIZIO ELLUL - A FILFLA STUDIO e-PUBLICATION


THE SARANGU Aside from the myth of kidnapping children at night and carrying them into his large sack to take them to the underworld, very little information exist on Sarangu. The lack of information on this character makes the process a challenging one. I am moving with the idea of embedding the character within the context of 1813 rather than create a universal character. I want the character to be able to move freely within the chaos of the events unfolding. I am being inspired by Pietro Paolo Caruanaʼs painting showing people receiving the Holy Eucharist during the plague. At the time a number of French war prisoners were entrusted with carrying the sick and dead. They wore red clothing from head to toe. Most of them died from the plague. Such a costume for the Sarangu would create a perfect disguise. While it is a work of fiction, a lot of effort was put into the research aspect to re-create a credible world for this GN. The mask will be retained in some form as it recalls the plague doctors. However, there is no evidence that such a mask was still in use by the 1800s. Yet, the use of this mask is so embedded in the myth of the plague that its use will be relatable to a modern audience.

Sarangu- Concept Art (Above) Pietro Paolo Caruanaʼs painting showing people receiving the Holy Eucharist during the plague of 1813 (below)

The face is likely to remain hidden by the shadows as it should act as a universal metaphor. A particular interesting and challenging aspect of the Sarangu is its transforming into this terrific creature.

THE SARANGU’S WORLD - THE VISUAL NARRATIVE | FABRIZIO ELLUL - A FILFLA STUDIO e-PUBLICATION


Sarnagu - Its Transformation For me the Sarangu started out with ʻFilflaʼ - the short animation which was released in 2019 and won the Kinemastik International Short Film Festival Audience Award. In it I created a terrifying creature that traps the souls of the innocent into a sack - which eventually evolved as a womb (instead of giving life, it sucks life away). The creature that eventually evolved was blind because in conceiving such a terrific evil spirit - I imagined a creature that destroys life indiscriminately, regardless of race or socio-economic background. I must say that I had the most trouble developing this creature, mainly, and to my surprise, because it is meant to be blind. The blindness was inspired from the classic sci-fi franchise ʻAlienʼ which was also conceived as blind relying solely on its other senses.

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THE GIRL Trapped in Bufies (the upside world and part of Malteseʼ mythology on the after life) she tries to understand her surroundings and reach out to her father. During this time she embarks on a journey through space and time to discover how the world changes if she does not act. The girlʼs journey is also a journey between childhood and adulthood and an opportunity for growth. This will be reflected in her world as it will be more surreal than the real world.

Two studies on the girl.

Part of the challenge in developing this character is not to fall into obvious gender bias. I started to notice how certain biases started to effect this character. As this character evolved from minor to main protagonist with her own story arc I became much more concerned that certain biases might effect how she evolves in the story. For this reason as part of the ʻSarangu - a Maltese folktaleʼ production I will have specialized workshops dedicated to gender biases to address some of these issues.

THE SARANGU’S WORLD - THE VISUAL NARRATIVE | FABRIZIO ELLUL - A FILFLA STUDIO e-PUBLICATION


THE SARANGU’S WORLD - THE VISUAL NARRATIVE | FABRIZIO ELLUL - A FILFLA STUDIO e-PUBLICATION


Sarangu A Maltese folktale

The graphic novel

Sarangu – A Maltese folktale a graphic novel by Fabrizio Ellul and produced by Filfla Studio has received funding from Arts Council Malta – Malta Arts Fund - Project Support Grant. The graphic novel set in 1813 Malta during an outbreak of the Bubonic plague – which left a death toll of around 4,500 people – take inspiration from Maltese folk, landscape and historical environment. The project aims to adapt Maltese folk to popular culture. The content will then be adapted into a virtual workshop on the development of world building and visual narratives. This project has also benefited from research grants by Arts Council Malta, which gave rise to the Sarangu’s world – an ongoing research project on Maltese folk. This is Filfla Studioʼs first venture into publication. It had previously produced ʻFilfla’ – a short animation – which won the Kinemastik International Short Film Festival Audience Award and was finalist and official selection in various international festival. It was followed up with a second short animation – Mr Teddy is Angry slated for 2021 and supported by the Malta Film Commission.

Concept art for ʻSarangu - aMaltese folktaleʼ graphic novel

THE SARANGU’S WORLD - THE VISUAL NARRATIVE | FABRIZIO ELLUL - A FILFLA STUDIO e-PUBLICATION


Bonus material to download This art work is being made available for free on condition that it is not used for commercial purposes. Credit is appreciated. The art work can be downloaded from www.filfla.studio.

THE SARANGU’S WORLD - THE VISUAL NARRATIVE | FABRIZIO ELLUL - A FILFLA STUDIO e-PUBLICATION


FILFLA STUDIO

FABRIZIO ELLUL CHIEF NYAMWEYA

Filfla Studio is an independent creative art house studio based in Malta specialising in storytelling through the medium of 2D animation and graphic art. It was founded by visual artist Fabrizio Ellul in December 2018 as a vehicle to tell stories in different formats. Filfla Studioʼs first story ʻFilflaʼ – a self funded short animation (2019) – won the Kinemastik International Short Film Festival Audience Award. The animation was followed up by The Saranguʼs World (a research project – 2020) exploring further the world of Filfla , ʻMr Teddy is Angryʼ a short animation (in production, 2021) and was further supported with a Malta Arts Fund Special Call by Arts Council Malta. It has received funding by Arts Council Malta to develop ʻSarangu - a Maltese Folktaleʼ into a graphic novel. Release is expected for 2022. Fabrizio Ellul has over 12 years of experience working in the visual arts, communication and education

Fabrizio Ellul is the founder and creative director of Filfla Studio. Fabrizio is a professional artist with over 12 years of experience working in the field of traditional medium of Fine Arts. He also has some 10 years experience working in the field of communication covering different role, including that of spokesperson, public campaigns and public information. He is currently working as an educator, with teaching and lecturing experience covering secondary, post-secondary and university levels teaching Art, Art-History, Media Literacy and Methodology. Since January 2020 he has been dedicated to the growth and sustainability of Filfla Studio pitching successfully a number of projects under the banner of Filfla Studio. Fabrizio has also sought international collaboration to develop further his own projects.

Chief Nyamweya is a storyteller, illustrator and digital artist behind several graphic novels about history, technology and creativity including Emergency (2010) and Art of Unlearning (2019). He is the co-founder of Freehand Studios, an African visual arts and education company that creates socially impactful content and experiences. Chief is a lawyer and chartered accountant by training and alumni of Singularity University in San Francisco. He recently listed in the 2019 Business Daily Africaʼs top 40 under 40 Men ( https://top40.businessdailyafrica.com/ candidates/toying-with-ideas/ ). Co-Founder of Freehand Studios, Kenya An African visual arts and education company that creates socially impactful content and experiences. Graphic Novels: Art of Unlearning (20172019), Trust (2020 - ~); Animations: Akili Kids TV Station IDs; Production Services: The Letter (2020) Curator & Trainer for Ink & Pixels – The Wild and Wondrous Tale of Kenyan Comics • Curator of the Ink & Pixels exhibition in Nairobi and Facilitator of graphic novel writingworkshops in Germany Co-Founder, Producer - The Tsunami Studio Ltd Full-time Jan 2013 – Nov 2015 Creative production; Client Liaison; Strategy Development https://www.freehandmovement.com/ studio

THE SARANGU’S WORLD - THE VISUAL NARRATIVE | FABRIZIO ELLUL - A FILFLA STUDIO e-PUBLICATION


THE SARANGU’S WORLD - THE VISUAL NARRATIVE | FABRIZIO ELLUL - A FILFLA STUDIO e-PUBLICATION