Arlena Hosking Otherworld

  • Tauira / Student
    Arlena Hosking
  • Kaiako / Lecturers
    Marcos Mortensen Steagall, Tatiana Tavares

Like many of us, Cara grew up listening to fairytales... But these stories weren't filled with the usual sparkles and joy. Tales of Celtic Gods, faeries, and magic is hidden deep within the land may hold darker truths than she is ready to face or admit.
Otherworld is a 38-page comic book that tells an original story inspired by Celtic mythology, specifically the Irish fair folk. In modern and Victorian contexts, fairies are shown to be dainty, sweet-natured spirits. But upon diving deeper, I came to learn that they are in fact far from it. From the Celt's perspective, the fae can be kind, but they are just as likely to be devious, malicious, proud troublemakers. Many older folk in Ireland are still superstitious about the faeries, but these beliefs are slowly being lost to the younger generations and to the wider global subconscious. Otherworld invites younger audiences to indulge in these old tales in a fresh way and provides a nostalgic, fresh twist on the traditional fairytales we are all used to.
The research behind Otherworld explores the Irish faerie’s beginning as the Tuatha Dé Danann, their significance to Irish culture, respect for the land, and unexpected links to the underworld. I used these ancient stories alongside the more well-known folklore of Irish faeries (Daoine Sídhe) to inspire my story, which is built around nine crucial rules about meeting the fae. The story also introduces Cara, a young girl with a keen interest in insects as our main character who grew up hearing these tales, yet still manages to stumble into trouble.
The visual development of Otherworld aims to create a sense of warmth, mystery, and intrigue. The shape design within the illustrations creates a sense of flow, twist and simple detailing, while the colour palette shifts to follow the time of day and the creeping sense of uneasiness. Within the series of rule pages, there is a subtle symbolism in the imagery hinting at the consequences of breaking the rules, and foreshadowing the story's dark direction.
The narrative — written by me — themes explore nostalgia, growing up, making your own choices, and taking risks. It is deeply rooted in the idea that you should respect tradition, but not be afraid to break from it when the times change. The comic book is targeted at young girls aged ten to fifteen but may also have widespread appeal to any who grew up with fairytales.
Through the use of sequential storytelling in the format of a comic book, Otherworld aims to encourage self-confidence in its young female readers and to broaden their perspective to reveal a more traditional view of fairies, which is far darker and more mysterious than Victorian and modern day interpretations leads one to believe.