Underneath Exhibition at Orbital Comics

Late last year I took part in Underneath – an exhibition where comics artist pay tribute to their influences and inspirations, which was on at Orbital Comics in November and December.


My piece is, of course, a tribute to the wonderful 1970s manga series Rose of Versailles by the equally wonderful Riyoko Ikeda. I wanted to pay homage to the shōjo manga influences of my childhood – and Lady Oscar, the protagonist of Rose of Versailles, has been an early badass role model for me for sure. Here’s a blurb from Wikipedia:

“The Rose of Versailles focuses on Oscar François de Jarjayes, a girl raised as a man to become her father’s successor as leader of the Palace Guards. A brilliant combatant with a strong sense of justice, Oscar is proud of the life she leads, but becomes torn between class loyalty and her desire to help the impoverished as revolution brews among the oppressed lower class. Also important to the story are her conflicting desires to live life as both a militant and a regular woman as well as her relationships with Marie Antoinette, Count Axel von Fersen, and servant and best friend André Grandier.”

I also heartily recommend the anime version of Rose of Versailles, which used to play on German kid’s TV all the time. It is dramatic, tragic, epic, and really, really beautiful!

BONUS FACT: RoV is also a major influence on my OTHER favourite anime series of all times, Revolutionary Girl Utena, which takes the gender play and sword-fighting from Rose of Versailles and sets it in a metaphysical and surreal dreamscape, involving, amongst other things, a school floating upside down in the sky, a secret society out to rebirth the world through duelling, a mysterious Rose Bride who needs to be rescued from an abusive relationship, people that may exist in real life or as ghosts or maybe just as metaphors, and a squeaky mouselike creature called Chu-Chu. There’s also a movie version where everyone turns into cars at the end. Please go watch this immediately!

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