Control has many faces

When I made the cast for Lennan & Smallsy Comics, Lennan was my first creation.

Lennan went through many renditions. After choosing his clothes and body shape, his face became the final focal point.

I remember when I received the the penultimate draft from my artist, everything was great. His clothes looked great. His build looked great. Everything was good to go.

But then I made a decision.

“Change his nose,” I said to my artist. “And his jawline, too. I want him to look handsome.”

Handsome? Why handsome?

Lennan was supposed to be an unpleasant boy. Broody, entitled and sexist, he was meant to hold the dormant traits that would morph him into his abusive dad Lionel. Originally, Lennan had a balloon face and a bulbous nose. He looked on the outside how I intended to make him on the inside.

Ugly.

So why did I change his appearance?

The answer lies in the type of discussion I wanted to have about domestic violence.

Typically when women meet their abusers, these men don’t look ugly. They don’t act ugly. There’s nothing about them that’s obviously off-putting. It’s usually not until some time has passed and commitment becomes established that the facade comes off.

So what does this mean?

It means that abusers can be handsome. They can be downright appealing, and tough to resist. They don’t always look on the outside how they are on the inside. So why not give Lennan a face lift and incorporate this element into the mix?

That’s exactly what I did, and the rest is history.

Lennan & Smallsy Comics was started as a way of discussing and disseminating the realities of domestic violence. If you check the comments section of my facebook and instagram pages, you’ll see that folks have commented on the subtle nature of the writing and the messages therein.

The beauty and brilliance about building this sort of discussion is that it lets me examine every aspect so that people can appreciate the depth and complexity of the issue. I wasn’t going to cheapen my creation with fast facts and blunt stories like some kind of bumper sticker guide to understanding domestic violence.

If you enjoyed this post, and you’re interested in learning more about how my cartoon relates to family abuse, then subscribe to my newsletter for more meaty discussions. (Plus, subscribers get early access to parts of upcoming comics straight to their inbox)!

Lennan in his pre-handsome state.

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