By Andy Frisk
October 1, 2010 - 21:40
“Aurora, Isis, Kali, Astarte, Briget, Hera, Mary, Medea, Walpurga, Cerridwen. These are but a few of the names I have been known and worshipped by. Many names, many faces. You may call me Dawn.”
“Many names, many faces,” but Joseph Michael Linsner’s creation Dawn looks nearly the same in every single work of sequential art she appears in. This isn’t a bad thing. It’s just the way it is with this particular incarnation of a myth that has existed since the dawn of mankind (no pun intended). Dawn is, in her own words, “…the Goddess of Birth and Rebirth” who’s “as old as the Earth itself for we are one and the same.” She isn’t a goddess of death though, nor does she particularly exist outside the other major myths of nearly every major religion. She’s met Lucifer and God (who goes by Ahura Mazda—the Zoroastrian name for God—in Linsner’s universe), and is in love with Death, who goes by Cernunnos (his Celtic name). Cernunnos, (“The Horned God, The Lord of the Hunt, Bringer of Changes,” etc, etc.) is currently channeled most strongly in Dawn’s current human lover Darrian Ashoka.
All of this…mythology of Dawn (if you will)…is explained in the first few pages of Dawn: Not to Touch the Earth, but it’s much more fun to figure it out on your own by reading Dawn: Lucifer’s Halo, the work for which Dawn: Not to Touch the Earth ends up being a sort of convoluted prequel to. The whole of Dawn’s story though is a little convoluted and difficult to draw out linearly, but Linsner intends her story to be this way. Dawn, and the stories she appears in, are meant to be viewed as metaphorical and allegorical excursions into the archetypes that define the basic human experiences of love, death, sex, birth, loss, and redemption. Dawn’s tales remind me of a much less complex yet similarly allegorical version of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman. With the only book in publication now that can even approach the greatness of Gaiman’s masterwork being Mike Cary’s Unwritten, Linsner definitely has an opportunity to fill a void with a regular Dawn series, but he’s more content to publish her tales irregularly and focus more closely on the visual aspects of Dawn as a character. Next to Vampirella, Dawn is easily the most recognizable pinup/bad girl/gothic female character now in existence in the world of sequential art.
Linsner excels more in the realm of artwork than storytelling, and Dawn is definitely one of the best drawn female characters ever created. Her semi-bondage, goth, and skull laced look was definitely unique when it debuted a little over twenty years ago, and while not as uncommon in the world of mainstream sequential art anymore, is still noteworthy for its influence. Her unique facial “scar,” which is comprised of three purple tears (obtained as a consequence of becoming Death’s lover), is also unique. Linsner draws a striking female form that is highly idealized, but his talent for recreating anatomy isn’t limited to the aforementioned female form. His male characters are well proportioned and idealized as well. His attention to detail and inventiveness as far as costume detail go is also strong.
Dawn, again like Vampirella, has grown beyond just the comics she appears in and has taken a bit of a revered place in the world of sequential art pop culture. Dragon Con, held annually over Labor Day Weekend in Atlanta, Georgia, hosts a Dawn Look-a-Like Contest that draws many comely participants. Some of the contest’s recent contestants’ photos are reproduced in Dawn: Not to Touch the Earth, but can also be seen by visiting Linsner’s site as well. The contest has grown every year and the costumes get better and more elaborate each year as well.
|Dawn's lover Darrian.|
Overall, it’s great to see Linsner working on his “personal goddess” once again. While there really isn’t anything terribly new added to Dawn’s mythology with Dawn: Not to Touch the Earth, the book is nonetheless a worthwhile read, if just for Linsner’s artwork. It also serves as a great introduction of the character to a new generation.
For more Dawn and JML: linsner.com
Rating: 8 /10