Tuesday, December 15, 2020

31 Days Of CCS, #15: Filipa Estrela

Filipa Estrela sent me a lot of comics last year for this feature, and it was clear that she was developing a number of interesting ideas all at once. Her entries for this year are further developed versions of several of her better original ideas that show off not only her ability as a cartoonist, but also as a crafter and graphic designer. 

Grow is a fascinating art object. Tucked away inside a cover with a velcro seal and the title letters laid out in glitter and glue, this is a reboot of a project about a magician who gives sentience to a beautiful mushroom, which in turn decides to become a sort of mushroom farmer. However, instead of the comic being drawn, it was done entirely by way of needlefelt and then photographed. The effect is astonishing, creating a fuzzy, magical aura on each page. Estrela maintained a rock-solid hold on the cartooning aspect in every panel in order to establish clarity and also was careful to balance aspects of the page like the relationship of bodies to each other in space. That was the most impressive thing, because it could have easily looked like things hanging in space. Instead, Estrela even introduces foregrounds and backgrounds in a number of panels without compromising the reading experience. The only thing that would have improved the experience was for the pages to be bigger and slicker, to let the colors really shine. I could easily see Estrela pursuing something like this as a hardcover in the future. 

Rioteens! is a magazine-size expansion on her Rioteens characters that she introduced in minicomics. They were actually born as characters she invented for a superhero role-playing game, but they were clearly so much fun to think about that she invented a teen magazine for them to inhabit. If the Rioteens were characters that could have appeared in the old Action Girl anthology comic, then this magazine is the sort of thing that Sarah Dyer would have delightfully reported on in her old zine. 

There's a ten-page adventure comic, wherein Kitty Swipe tries to raise money for her non-binary sister Bubblegum Hop. There are word searches, fake ads, paper dolls to cut out, question and answer sessions with the stars of the book, drawing exercises, fan art, an advice column, and extended bios for all of the characters. Estrela went all-out and did the entire thing in color, which made her characters just jump off the page. Her character designs were already clever and varied; for example, Kitty Swipe is a fat character, and this is presented in an entirely matter-of-fact way. BH is still the best, as he's a sentient black hole who wears a yellow hoodie, and he keeps his hands in it most of the time. Estrela's comics all have a delightfully upbeat quality to them that's still rooted in real-life concerns. 

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