For my thesis project, I illustrated three short stories by science fiction author Octavia Butler. The stories I chose are all pulled from her short story anthology titled Bloodchild, and Other Stories. I decided to take this direction of illustration as an exercise in using color fields and symbolic elements to illustrate narratives. This project was about process; the act of working and reworking the narratives until I arrived at each outcome.
The first story I illustrated is titled Bloodchild. Taking place on an alien planet, humans are enslaved by a spider-like alien race and are used to carry the offspring of their fertile females. The story revolves around the relationship between the main human character, Gan, and his alien partner. The story’s tone slowly shifts from nurturing to fearful as the reader learns more about the horrors of Gan’s world and the enslavement of the human race. The story closes with Gan’s implantation, punctuating the battle between trust and control that Gan faces. Major themes of the story include intimacy, control, political imbalance, and interdependence.
The second story is titled Near of Kin. This story opens with a young girl visiting her uncle at her mother’s home after she had passed away. Her mother was abusive towards her daughter, having tormented and abandoned her. Unable to reconcile with her abuse, the daughter sought the truth from her uncle as to the reasons for her abandonment, as well as the absence of a father figure from her life. The story closes when she discovers that her uncle is actually her father, and she quietly stops blaming herself for her own neglect.
The third story is titled Crossover. A woman’s life deteriorates due to alcoholism throughout the progression of the story. She works a dead-end factory job in an urban any-city setting, visiting the liquor store every evening before she reaches her apartment. She details the grime of the city and the scuzziness of the street drunks on her walks to and from work. One night, the woman’s abusive ex-partner finds her after being released from prison, and she is unable to cope with his presence. At the end of the story, she leaves her ex in her apartment and hitches with one of the street drunks, succumbing to her addiction.