August 28, 2014

The Traveling Song

Why am I tromping around the woods with flowers in my hair like some Ren-Faire hippie? Because of this. I'm a fan of Penny Arcade, and when they started this series about Hanna being called as a Daughter of the Eyrewood, I was immediately hooked. In the 2nd panel, Hanna sings a little traveling song as she wanders out in the Eyrewood. Mike mentioned that he'd love to hear people's versions of what this song might sound like, and by the next morning, after carefully examining the strip, the melody for Jerry Holkins' lyrics just poured out of me, along with the counterpoint melody and the harmonies. Hanna just looks so happy. She is in her element. I envisioned other Daughters joining her in song, although she doesn't know it and perhaps can't hear it. A sort of calling song of its own, like benevolent sirens, or a like-minded group welcoming you into their fold, as you discover you've found Your People.

The Tithe, and the whole concept of the Daughters is so appealing to me. The story resonated with me for a couple of reasons: It's gratifying to see a young female protagonist, and how she interacts with adults, both helpful and unhelpful. Hanna reminds me of myself when I was her age, which I'm guessing is roughly 11 or 12 years old. She even looks like what I looked like back then. Well, except for the magenta hair, of course. I remember that same feeling of bonding with the natural world around me, the camping trips that sustained me and fed my soul; the sense that I was a part of the world around me. I could connect with the larger landscapes and burning stars even when I didn't feel connected with people, or even my own body, as it morphed into something a bit unfamiliar.

That age is a real turning point especially for girls, because in the mundane world they go from being happy innocent kids to being sexual objects in a weird man-made construct that doesn't fit well on anyone. It's no surprise that this is when most girls lose self-esteem, as the message they receive from society at large and the media (especially media aimed at them) is that women are valued primarily for their looks rather than for their thoughts and actions. Jerry Holkins touches on the vested social interest in "protecting" girls from agency here. It's refreshing to see a girl's change from adolescence into adulthood represented in a positive light, marked with a growing sense of independence and individuation, while becoming more deeply connected to the larger world.

The fact that this calling, or "becoming" involves growing plants or flowers out of your head, that it's a revealing of your secret self, is downright enchanting. It's another layer that shows not only how deeply connected the Daughters are to the Eyrewood, but also that each Daughter has her own distinct personality and characteristics. And of course, prompts the discussion, what kind of flower or plant would represent your secret self?

And I just wanted to say thanks to Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins for creating this beautifully thoughtful thing, which allowed me to create this other thing. The whole process has definitely been a fun and joyful experience.

I had a lot of fun making this song and video. I realized anew just how much joy writing songs gives me. I learned that creating costumes for cosplay is something I'm capable of doing, and I actually had fun in the process. Carefully looking at the pictures and doing my best to make a physical representation was challenging and (once I figured it out) rewarding. It's another kind of creativity I previously hadn't experienced, and now I GET IT. Dying my own fabric was empowering. I can make this dress any color I want?! Take that, Fashion Industry! I'm no longer beholden to your whims! I even made new friends who are also fans of the comic in the process.

So if you are also a fan of the comic and the world of the Eyrewood, you might see me around Pax Prime this year, cosplaying as Hanna. Or the Mother. Or maybe the blonde daughter Come say hi, and let's be friends.