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It could just be me, but I’ve always thought Keisuma looks oddly surprised here, possibly due to the size of her eyes and the arch of her brows. Not sure if that was the intent.

DREI:

What is the in-universe justification behind the East Asian-influenced attire that Kanna, Rin, and company are often shown wearing? I noticed that Kanna is sometimes portrayed in a furisode (here she seems to be wearing a qujupao-like robe instead), while Odysseus seems to wear an outfit partly resembling men’s duanhe from the Song Dynasty as his main uniform. (Maybe Yuan? I’m not an expert on Chinese attire.) To my knowledge, the main cast doesn’t seem to identify strongly with the cultures that typically wear or wore such clothing.

Also, I do feel somewhat weird about the Sanskrit-like font. It reminds me of the fake “Chinese” fonts that attempt to translate hanzi strokes into Roman letters. Will the Hindu pantheon be a major influence on Dark Horse?

LOL XD Kei can look surprised, but I meant for her to look eager/excited. She’s grabbing at what she wants.

Yes: there is a justification for their clothing. I go into more detail in the email I’m working on (or rather, document.

1) Their outfits that appear following their magical transformations are directly linked to their personal magic (no details, but it’s soul-power). What they wear is a reflection of their imagination and their personal idealized version of what they’d want to wear.

As the series progresses, their magical girl/person clothes will change. You learn Kanna’s fascinated a bit by Rin’s family (mostly, her maternal grandmother, who is Japanese American married to a Caucasian American. It’s not pertinent to the story, so we don’t know Mrs. Miller’s name was Leighanne Kyoko Eastman).

2) Rhina is a quarter Japanese. My document has links to subtle and not at all subtle hints, including pages from here and ComicFury, which are not uploaded here as that is what’s being redrawn. It’s too complex to discuss in the comment section, but Rin is my homage to my dad and my friend. Blended families whose Asian relatives assimilated (right or wrong, forced or unconscious decision, we exist) will perhaps understand and appreciate her. I tend to not see much of this represented in any media. This is my story, and I want to pay homage to these people by having at least one character of this lineage. She won’t be perfect: she has many flaws. But that is to be human. All my characters have flaws, even if they aren’t apparent immediately.

That’s the spark notes version: there’s other reasons you might think Rin doesn’t look Asian (poor character design, manga influences of characters who are not realistically rendered that influenced me, inexperience as an artist leading me to not want to accidentally produce a caricature before I could better hone my design skills, same face syndrome, etc).

3) Yes yes yes! You got Yulie’s outfit! He is a history nerd from Chicago. He spent a lot of time in the library, and as a “latch key child,” he spent a lot of time reading alone. If you’ve been around kids, you might know they sometimes fixate on a specific subject. It might be dinosaurs (and they learn EVERYTHING) or it might be cars (this is my nephew: he knows every car including obscure ones only released abroad o_O). So Chinese stories and epics were Yulie’s particular interest. His outfit is inspired by fashions from ancient China (at the beginning of Dark Horse). We won’t learn more about his own personal history until much later, but rather than being interested in where his dad was from (Greece), he would escape into fantasies he read about in library books. We see this a lot even in otaku culture. People, especially very young people, get silly superficial ideas about cultures, even when they have good intentions. This isn’t going to something I hammer into the ground, but we will see people grow out of this as they actually meet people from aboard.

4) The font for Dark Horse is the closet to an Indian type font I could find (and I did buy the license for it). Dark Horse has allusions that most people aren’t going to get unless they’re familiar with Indian fashions/textiles/theology (I’ve had a handful of Indian readers pick up on them which makes me happy). Out of respect for the Hindu faith which is still practiced today (and other faiths in India: Janism, Buddhism, and even still a few Muslims who weren’t shuffled into Pakistan at its creation), I will NOT be having any actual Hindu gods. Their pantheon is their own, and I don’t feel comfortable taking their gods for my story. What I will have are beings influenced by aesthetic, that are their own created mythologies for this story. I have never been all that quiet about these influences, but I can understand why people might wonder. That’s all I can say on that subject, to avoid spoilers.

Long and the short: this series sets up the main character’s “journey to the west.” I can tell you know that story, because you seem to have a lot of knowledge on Chinese history (even if you don’t know their fashions. I don’t either, but I’ve been keeping an eye on some Chinese-American YouTubers for when I get to that part of planning). So all these influences we’re seeing through people we traditionally considered “white” is going to be addressed and fleshed out.

The dress Kanna’s wearing here on this page wasn’t influenced intentionally by Asian fashion. This dress was meant to look more fantastical Western. It was in part influenced (and I mean this VERY loosely) by the wrap dresses women in the US often wore inside in the late 1850s/1860s US. I used to do living history for the antebellum Lincoln Home era. While I never wore these wrap dresses/robes (as a woman would NOT step outside in them), they existed in US culture. Now, if they took that concept from abroad, I can’t say. We should all have an idea by now how colonialism stole things and adapted them, and it wouldn’t’ surprise me if there was an influence as Matthew Perry had pretty much forced open Japanese borders by that time.

But as for my personal influence: no. This dress was just a wrap dress with lacy embellishments, which felt to me to lend more of a fantasy Western feel.

So it seems like our comment threads are taking up too much space. (Partly my fault, since I keep bringing up irrelevant topics without regard. Sorry about that.) From now on, I’ll be keeping my comments and responses as on topic as possible and sharing off-topic thoughts via email.

Also, all feedback I leave is solely for the site version, not the ComicFury one that I haven’t read yet. And do let me know at any point if you’d prefer to get feedback and commentary via email rather than through comments.

One last point: I can’t promise I’ll leave comments regularly. For full disclosure, much of my free time is taken up by clicktivism, and I have limited access to a keyboard in general. I’ll try to leave comments at least once a week from now on and let you know privately if I’m no longer able to offer feedback.

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RESPONSES:

Keisuma’s face: Fair enough, and thanks for clarifying. I did see her hand extending toward Kanna, but wasn’t entirely sure at first what her facial expression was trying to communicate.

Outfits: Interesting that the main cast will be changing their outfits as they grow as people. (I’ve seen something similar with Sleepless Domain.) I also find it curious that Kanna will at one point don a dress that looks vaguely Sino-Japanese–more thoughts below on the dress (no, not that one, that meme is dead).

Yulie and Chinese lit: Something tells me that further discussion on this point is better left for email, given the potential for spoilers.

Indian cultural influences: Nice. You’ve shown your work well! I’m guessing the background image on the site is also based on Indian textile patterns? (Or architecture, especially floor or wall tiles?)

Wrap dress: I’m not entirely sure what you mean by “fantasy Western”; elaborate please? I also looked up the wrap dress as a style on Wikipedia and found that it was descended from hanfu via Chinoiserie and Japonisme. The right wrap-over collar of dinner wrap dresses, in particular, is actually based on the jialing youren style found in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean attire.

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FEEDBACK:

At this point, it’s pretty clear biracial rep is important to you, and I also agree that there isn’t enough nuance in biracial/multiracial depictions in media. I had originally written a whole spiel about introducing Rin’s kwŏtā heritage through dialogue (for instance, Kanna mentions Rin’s cousins in Japan), but in light of our recent emails I have recanted my original comments instead. I still want to suggest that you treat Mrs Miller’s given names as a spoiler, though.

I agree with you on the same-face syndrome (Only Six Faces in Tropespeak). I still have a hard time differentiating between Kanna and Rin, and their similar hairstyles and colors don’t help much. It would be interesting, say, to see people occasionally mistake them for siblings or cousins in-universe, as it would help justify any unintentional similarities in their design. I dunno how familiar you are with the concept and origins of mukokuseki or the aesthetic connections between Walt Disney and Tezuka Osamu, but they may be worth looking into and keeping in mind if you’re concerned about depicting part-white, multiracial characters as “white”.

You make a good point as well about respecting others’ religious and spiritual practices and exercising caution with your depictions. Doubly so if there are any rules dictating which deities and entities can or can’t be depicted.

I will confess nevertheless that I wouldn’t have minded seeing Hindu deities in Dark Horse, mainly as a former reader of Gunnerkrigg Court. Dunno if you’re familiar with Gunnerkrigg, but I always enjoyed the series’ culturally competent yet inventive approach to folklore and diverse pantheons. But this is based off my memories of it, so if things have changed and GC turns out to be problematic, I apologize and please disregard this point.

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Hey, no problem! I’ll be slow, too, as you can tell XD No rush on anything.

*Haven’t heard of Sleepless Domain, but it looks right up my alley!

*Looked up Sino Era; I can see what you mean. I haven’t studied that era of fashion. It’s gorgeous, though! Some of the higher cut tops remind me of the babydoll dresses popular in Edwardian England that came back around in the mid 1960s. I love the style! Will have to look at closer when I get a chance.

*I think you and I are very different generations. Wrap dresses were popular when I was in High School. This wrap shirt Kanna’s wearing is one I had. (Actually both Rin & Kanna’s clothes are ones I had in this chapter.) Only it was deep brown, & satin material. That doesn’t mean someone didn’t take influence from Asian fashion, but I never made the connection until now.

At work we always described Antebellum wrap dresses as robes, so I think for some reason I envisioned them as closer to modern day robes. Hence my confusion. But I am dead wrong, having looked them up after this conversation. Wraps from the 1860s. It’s no surprise they’re actually much larger and bulkier than I pictured in my mind! Yeah. I am wrong on this one XD (We worked outside, so we never worea wrapper, and I neglected to actually look them up.) Some of the dresses on that Pinterest page have frogs on them, so as suspected, there was definitely some Asian influence there. You’ve made a valid comparison. It wasn’t my intent, but I will definitely concede there’s got to be some crossover (no pun intended, you know, cloth crossing over). Thanks for bringing that up, because I learned several somethings knew!

*”Fantasy Western” isn’t a technical term that I know of XD It’s how I describe people designing clothes that “look” like it’s medieval, or from an era, but is not actually accurate. Like people wearing corsets on the outside. It’s looks fine, but it’s not accurate to the 1860s.

So, some of these are what I’d called “Fantasy Western” wear.

Ie: One Two

*I love the idea of Kanna & Rin getting mistaken as siblings! Thank you for the suggestion. I think that’s a reasonable work around! Thank you!

*I can’t believe this is my first time hearing the term “mukokeski!” But I love that there’s terminology for that trope. It is certainly something I picked up on, but never knew the word! I definitely knew about the Disney/Osamu connection (gotta give props to the Godfather of manga! And I guess by proxy anime XD Dude even influenced/helped inspire the magical girl genre, along w/ Bewitched). Thank you for sharing that trope! I am gonna read up on it.

*I do love learning about the Gods of Hinduism. I just recently discovered this…um…well animated, though clearly should have been a series, Ramayana. I think, like a lot of Christian anime (I’m looking at you Super Book), this was commissioned by a religious group and animated by a Japanese company. The pacing is awful, but the animation is great. I enjoyed the Cliff Notes version of The Ramayana (it’s a DENSE text, as are the Vedas).

*Have not read Gunnerkrigg, but I like the art. Will check it out when I have a chance 😀 If you’re interested in a Hindu inspired web comic, I highly recommend Swaha by Sera Swati. It’s behind a paywall, but it’s gorgeous has many characters from the pantheon (but focuses on Swaha and Agni, Indra and Shachi, and of course a few scenes w/ Vishnu & Lakshimi *O*), but is clearly the author’s own take.

Sorry this is long: I know the comments look unwieldy when reading from a phone :*( My partner and I are aware of the poor readability on cellphones, and it’s on my list to work on that!

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