a book of
The Stranger By Fang fu
Part I. Overview
A finding process When I chose to leave my previous job and started to learn drawing, I was dreaming that one day I could be the illustrator who can create imaginative world to comfort fickle public. And two years later after that, I came to MICA. Initially, I set my goal here as develop my style and technical skills to be a professional illustrator. But now, I feel like I spend these two years into a struggling progress of digging out the deepest things from myself. And try to represent them in a visual form project.
<The Stranger> is a wordless comic book. It explores the possibility of the relationship between reading and picturing through a book format. The story is based on my personal experiences with displacement, from childhood until now. In this black and white comic, a journey is occurring between reality and memory. A train runs through a sparse and curious city that feels familiar to the main character. There are no words to clarify the narrative. I used tones and space to suggest the atmosphere and emotional clues. The masked character wanders through fragmented scenes, one after another, holding on tight to a keychain. A question is buried in the whole vision: Once we have left, will we be able to go back to somewhere called home or stability? But this project has evolved so much from the proposal point. 6.
This is a progress of finding a way to shape the ego in my work....
At the beginning of my first year, I had an initial big and vague idea about trying to reflect the immersive feelings of individuals about time and space. At that time, this key concept was just based on a chaotic mix of preferences and instincts. And then I found that the time limitation for each project is just too short for me to explore that with the two-dimensional media I used to use. So I made several attempts with 3D works, which surprisingly led me toward my potential direction. I started to see my heart clearly. Here are some of the outcomes.
Part II. Inspiration
Collecting and Rebuilding
Collecting the “bricks” Shape the “mask” Build the “city” Pave the “way” . 13
1. Collecting the Bricks
It is like building a house.
The emptiness, silence apartment building from the comic of Gabriella Giandelli
Quietude, but immersive world by Aidan Koch Conspicuous gap between image and text She shows a clear vision but somehow lose track . 15
Shape the Character In this book, I design the character as a non-sex human wearing a mask of dog.
Why Dog? Why Mask?
I used to feel frustrating about the try of character design in my self-direction project. Originally I planned to combine my character design with the topic of alienation and solitude, but the feedback I received about my characters was that are “so weird” or “cute”. They were, unfortunately not seen as I’d planned in the original concept.
But after that, I found there is a solitude emotion delivered naturally from one of the creatures I designed with dog head
How about other animals
I found dog is the one speak the most untold information to me. So I keep this as the metaphor. I was also thinking whether I should just make the dog head as a true head, or keep it as â€œAâ€? mask
These experiments I played give me a hint and kind of explain why I should keep the mask. Maybe its nature of being a barrier against the outside world helps to provide the untold feeling but at the same time present a desire of talking.
Just like the moisture from my whisper inside of this mask. I could feel it.
Build a â€œCityâ€? I designed the character as a person who is wandering in between the memories and realities. In order to present this visual narrative in a dream-scape but at the same time convincing enough to speak to the viewer. I want to build an empty city with my memories of all the cities that I have been wandering in.
Sketch for <the stranger>
Photography by Laurent Kronental
Drawings by Isabel Seliger 28 .
Photograph by Christopher Herwig
Before the thesis project, I already started to think about my feeling about urban life. And I actually found lots of works evoke those indescribable imagination about city.
At the beginning of summer break, I spent a month in Europe with my husband. The experience of wandering in the empty city there evoked some old memories of urban life. I felt like that experience could be tracked back to Baltimore, and I could even track it back to my earlier life in China. What fascinated me were not the exotic air but some familiar fragments.
These photos I took somehow reflect this.
Junya Ishigamiâ€™s exhibition in Paris, which focused on his poetic perspective of architectures and city planning, helped me to connect some fragments together. I started with my very first idea of a sparse city and decided to use this as the major approach to creating the basic atmosphere in my thesis project.
And another exhibition Lâ€™archipel De La Maison which is talking about the house in Japan. This exhibition inspired me that domestic of a physical home also has connection between individual and urbanity and society. And some of the design evoked a strange but familiar feeling about my fantastic imagination of home. . 33
Paving the â€œWayâ€?
In order to represent as complete as possible of my concept, I chose to make a book has lose narrative but everything inside happened in realistic environment. Based on this I started to story boarding and at the same time I feel myself uncomfortable about write down the plot and manuscript. I tried to reflect on everything about memories and solitude which might be evoked in this imaginative city. Eventually, I decided that it would be a one-day trip that the main character is taking, in order to revisit her hometown, her old house, her parentsâ€™ current home, and the homes of her friends. At that point, the story became too long. What kind of journey I should compose and how to arrange the pages to keep the lose narrative but still tell what I want. Those difficulties became the main struggling in the whole first semester.
4 version of dummy book with different storyboarding
Inward Way There are some turning points that made this project an inward journey. I. Cityscape in China I found some photographs about newly built but empty cities in China which evoked the similar feeling. Those unnecessarily wide avenues, vast plazas, ghostly residence communities and monument-look-alike skyscrapers speak a lot to me. I was trying to find something I could identify with when I walked in the city. But the surrounding environment shifted into a strange stage. I always moved between cities because of my parentsâ€™ career developments. My identify of being a stranger happened every 1-2 years. Those empty new towns echo something left behind in my soul. I realized that was where I should look to find deeper inspiration.
ii. zine I took the drawing non-fiction class during the first semester of thesis year. I developed two zines and found that the right approach for my storytelling may lie within the exploration of subtle emotions about memories and relationships. My first zine: No. 2 Pool is about visiting Druid Hill Park as an outsider and retelling the story of Druid Hill No. 2 pool, which used to be the “coloured pool” during America’s segregation era. This content has very a heavy historical background. But I wanted to include more personal feelings about seeing space as a reservoir of memory.
Style I did this series of dry material drawings about an abandoned pool just as a break. But afterward, the feedback and critiques suggested that those drawings were starting to capture the atmosphere of my thesis.
Those discoveries and that progress solidified my motivation and powered the filter system. The urban photography in China confirmed that I should go inside to pull out my story. Creating the zines provided me the opportunity and confidence to retell personal experiences. And the drawings continued to flesh out the concept. They informed me of what parts of myself I should explore with this journey. Based on this, I finally settled on the title <the stranger>. And I kept receiving affirmation about how well it worked with the content when I was moving forward. The storyboard kept evolving even after that, but the length of the project stabilized at 65 pages.
Story Board First Version - 2016 October
Story Board First Version - 2017 Jan
Part III. Finish Piece
Stretching and Balancing
Part IV. Exhibition
I started to feel the pressure when it was close to the exhibition. I definitely want to exhibit my original charcoal drawings and also the dummy book. But how to arrange everything and make it as cohesive a s possible. My strategy became: chose several drawings with physical visual browsing experience not sequence in the book. Let the drawings rebuild the immersive feeling in my book. And when the viewer stand in the gallery, they are in between the reality and the dream like journey. I install the sound dorm upon the big bird view cityscape drawings. So they can feel it. I hope what they see and heard will suggest something happened in their life. And after browsing drawings, they will come to the dummy book with those evoked feelings.
Besides of the book, I draw several independent drawings relate to the theme but kind of isolated from the narrative. It also includes the scaled bird view of the empty city. I scaled and redraw my original design into more than 60 in. I suppose this city will be sparse and empty. The reason of doing this is to examine my vision of the atmosphere. I also recorded and edited the street noise and set it in front of my cityscape drawing to provide the viewer an immersive feeling. . 69
Part IV. Conclusion
The MFA in MICA is coming to the end, this project and the struggling I went through will company me even afterward. I will keep working on The Stranger . The experience of making it give me more confidence about my style of making book. But The stranger is more close to a personal project. I will make separated website for it, and advertise it and sale in a self-publisher way. The plan of the upcoming summer is I will make more idea in hand into dummy books to pitch. And keep moving forward on develop my art more independent when it is not in a book.
This project could not reach this point without the support of my peers and Teachers here at MICA. I would like to thank them especially for their Patience as I felt my way through this project. Whitney Sherman, Kimberly Ellen Hall Dawei Wang My parents
This is the book of Fang Fu's thesis project.