Clive Hawken BFA Illustration Thesis Spring 2017
Cryptids incite a particular and peculiar fascination in most people; they are monstrous and elusive – lone, mysterious beings forgotten by evolution that waver narrowly between believable and fantastic. Though not all of this applies, the characterization of transgender people both culturally and in media holds many dehumanizing parallels. My comic is the 28 page first chapter of a of a full-sized graphic novel in which the main character is a transgender man whose strange, cosmic connection to a cryptid leads him on a journey that changes his life.
The story is about a man who has walked away from his former life in order to search for a fictional cryptid similar to the Pacific Northwest’s sasquatch. Told non-linearly, the narrative goes back and forth between flashbacks of the main character’s previous life and the somewhat mystical, frequently surreal adventure that unfolds on the road. Together, the two time-streams paint a greater picture of the man; his struggle with identity, masculinity, family, purpose, and how a combination of all of those factors resulted in the brash decision to set out on his quest in the first place. The disparate flashbacks between the ongoing, present narrative are the equivalent to literary vignettes – tied to events in the story in the tangential, meaningful way memories are.
While the story does contain an element of mysticism and horror, it is less a work of fantasy than a work of contemporary fiction that uses surrealism and fantasy as a device. My work is slow-burning, distinctly paced, and relies heavily on visual symbols used in a literary sense. Magical realism works in a way that higher fantasy doesn’t for me because it allows me to bend and expand on a world that already exists for psychological effect rather than having to establish the world beforehand, describe it to the viewer, and then subvert it.