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Essa moça sabe desenhar sim senhor.
She’s Brazilian, and her blog is in Portuguese, but that shouldn’t deter you from a visit. Google Translate is kind to her site, but the real pleasure is in her drawings. By turns whimsical, fantastic, and sensual, Cynthia França wields a pencil like Logen Ninefingers can wield a sword, and it cuts just as deeply. I wasn’t able to determine if Miss França has ever published any of her drawings professionally, or if anyone had ever tapped her to illustrate a book. There were several drawings on her site that seemed to come from a fictional source; Soccertown kids, all appropriately named, a set of drawings entitled Les Reines D’Autobus, but I was frustrated by my total ignorance of Brazilian popular culture.
Since reading L. Sprague De Camp’s planetary romances of the Viagens Interplanetárias in my earliest adolescence, Brazil has always seemed like a mythical country in its own right. I don’t mean to disparage the tremendous challenges faced by the average Brazilian in navigating the real world, but when I visited there, I felt more like I was living inside a legend than I have anywhere else. There has to be some compensation for living in a country where there is so much poverty and injustice, and oddly, there is. Nature is exuberant there, beyond anything we know in North America away from the redwood groves on the West Coast. Taking the bus from Santos on the coast to São Paulo was like dreaming with my eyes open. Music, better music than you can pay to hear in most venues, wafts out of the windows and down to the street.
Because of this I’m surprised Brazil hasn’t produced more fantasy literature. Some of the tales of the bandeirantes, with which Brazilian schoolchildren are as familiar as American children used to be with the stories of Paul Bunyan and Pecos Bill, definitely had a mythopoetic flavor to them. Miss França has a fantastic side to her as well. In her online portfolio there are drawings of Conan, Dejah Thoris, and Desire of the Endless, as well as numerous sketches from what Miss França refers to as her “pocket mythology”. I learned that the phrase Portuguese would use for the Endless is os Perpétuos. From one Gaiman fan to another Gaiman fan, I salute you.
Miss França also has produced an occasional series of sketches of Biblical women. You should really go see these, because they are not likely to see the light of day between the pages of your Zondervan Purpose Oriented Planner Bible. Mary and Martha are here, as are Herodias and a slightly older Salomé, three of David’s wives, Jezebel and her daughter Athalia. Even though Miss França appears to have a soft spot for the bad girls, there are plenty of good girls; Ruth and Orpah are here, as are the three daughters of Job. My favorite, however, is the sketch of Leah and Rachel, the wives of Jacob. Miss França takes the liberty of depicting Leah not as strictly plain, but just frank and transparent as opposed to Rachel’s smoldering and mysterious glamour.
Now, I know I have maybe thirty two nanoWarhols of artistic critical influence, but I would dearly love to see Miss França exercise her considerable talents somewhere where she could be more widely appreciated.