Leroy Tito Into the dark

  • Tauira / Student
    Leroy Tito
  • Kaiako / Lecturers
    Tatiana Tavares, Natalie Robertson

This research-led project explores the concept of grief through the medium of comic story-telling. Into the dark is a story about a teenage boy dealing with the loss of a loved one. The project explores these notions through the use of photographic processing and digital illustrations to delve into the main character’s perspective of grief. The project is based on my own personal experiences with grief and is a visual representation of my journey of losing a loved one.
The main narrative follows the story of Ihaia, a teenage boy whose mother is suffering through the late stages of cancer. The tale deals with his realization that he doesn’t have much time left with his mother, and that he must figure out how to move on after everything is settled. The story takes a hard look at the effects of grief over a period of time.
The narrative features dialogue with parts of Te Reo Māori. The dialogue simulates a multicultural and bilingual outlook on the world. As someone who experiences a mix between Polynesian, Māori and European, things tend to blend together. The exchanges and character designs are reminiscent of people in my own life, giving a closer look into my personal life. And what life can mean when your ethnicity is spread across different areas.
Through Te Reo Māori I was able to link prayers and common sayings I use with my own whanau giving more of an authentic spin on the comic. The comic features some real events in my life and displays some more personal and vulnerable moments, but these moments in the story are there to show growth and development, not only of Ihaia but also myself. Throughout his story he overcomes his sadness as he tries to work with his family to become stronger.
Whanaungatanga is a very important part of being Māori. Having the bond of family, friends and loved ones is what connects each other together and makes you stronger. There are links to the past and the present such as tīpuna, which are very important in Māori culture. Looking back at your roots and seeing the path from the past is a theme I explored when working on this project. Tangi’s connect whānau and loved ones together to get through the tough times as a collective, making each other stronger in the process. The aroha I experienced had a profound effect on me and the comic is a result of what I experienced.
Ihaia, like many of us has challenges to face, he must figure out how to overcome his loss. Losing a loved one is hard and we must overcome feelings of grief and keep moving forward.