Created by Jim Fernandez in the ’70s, this demigod is the spawn of the Aztec serpent god Kukulkan. This bald, green hulk of a monster’s most prominent features are the two constrictors protruding (about a couple of feet) from either side of his shoulders.
Regarded more as a villain, he enjoyed a considerably extensive publication that has spun off a couple of series in its heyday, was adapted into films, and had its revival in print a few years back.
When I first featured the “Darna/Narda” symbiotogram, I never thought I’d get to make a follow-up issue, much more a third! I’m glad that should this be the last Filipino comic character I ambigrammize – (hopefully not), at least I capped it off with a sort-of-trilogy (XD). To think while “Panday” was published first, “Zuma” was conceived earlier – only that I was not satisfied with the first iteration, so it got pushed further back.
This piece was finished last year after a lot of tinkering with the main glyphs and the final image itself, about the same time another ambigram piece (based on a more internationally well known literary classic which will definitely be featured here sometime soon) was done.
Unlike the two previous “Komiks” feature’s isolated overlaid rendering, I decided to set the ambigram as a stone relief, emulating those artifacts found in the famed 16th century Mesoamerican sites.
But, it wouldn’t be much of a series if I don’t set this image on the “Komiks” page background… so here it is.
I’ve also included the progress sketches and final line art, so you could get an idea on how the design evolved from a possible mirror ambigram solution to its current rotational interpretation.
Finally, I’d like to acknowledge a couple of creators whose work I used to enhance mine. Although Pixabay says no attribution is required, yet it’s the least I could do when they’re absolutely free – even for commercial use!
This one is an homage to one of the Philippines’ most enduring comic characters. Darna. She has been portrayed by at least 18 female actors (yes, there were male actors who also portrayed a version of her as well) has appeared in over ten “Darna” films since 1951 (not counting cameos) a ballet feature and three television serials.Like many of her American counterparts she began her adventures in comic books (or komiks, to us). The actual Darna character debuted in 1950 on the pages of Pilipino Komiks, but a previous incarnation of the same character (then called Varga) first appeared in Bulaklak Magazine in 1947. Both were essentially the same in concept where a little girl named Narda come in to possession of a bulalakaw (falling star) that turned out to be a magic amulet which transform the little girl into a super heroine.
(Unlike American comic books, our komiks usually are serialized anthologies, wherein an issue may have in them up to about ten stories by different writers and illustrators.)
The publishers owned the Varga character so when her creator, Mars Ravelo,moved over to Pilipino Komiks, he re-tooled the concept and gave her a new name. Darna, of course, is an anagram of Narda. This time the character was redrawn by Nestor Redondo, Filipino ace illustrator.
While she is oftentimes compared to Wonder Woman, Darna/Narda has more things in common with Captain Marvel/Billy Batson where both adolescents speak a magic word (or name) transforming them into their alter egos. And while Billy is not the one in crutches (his friend Freddy is) young Narda (‘though not always) is predominantly portrayed as a cripple.
This seemed to be a perfect word to do a symb with. It resonates with the way Narda transform into Darna after speaking the name and vice versa. It would be nice to also carve this on a white stone, similar to what Narda find in the “falling star’s” aftermath.
What took more time in doing this symb is finding a good version of the “N/A” flip to settle with. All the rendition below each have their pros and cons so I had to go with what I feel is right for the final ambigram. A nice way to solve the problem posed by the “A” cross bar is by replacing it with a star, which goes well with its flip counterparts.
Next Week’s Preview
Before we go, I thought I’d show you a sneak peek into next weeks post. But there is a small catch… you have to decipher it. (It’s a sneak peek after all). For your trouble, the first to correctly tell me the word/phrase will be gifted an ambigram of his/her choice. Just email me your answers and by next post (likely by May 11) we’ll get to know the word/phrase and hopefully a winner! Ambigrammists are most welcome to join in the fun but (damn!) you’re probably better than me so you’d have to make do with what I come up with… hehe 😉