Tír is an animated graphic novel following the lives of five women as they struggle to survive on an inhospitable planet. The speculative post-earth future explores a society in which dwindling resources and fears over a mysterious alien outbreak begin to erode suddenly alienable human rights, and delves into the cyclical and inescapable nature of human oppression.
Tír is published serially as an eBook – so you can read it with most eReaders – and designed for the iPad. Don't worry, if you dont have one you can read it embedded here! Fancy.
While living in a highly regulated and isolated biosphere on a hostile planet, amidst crop failures and food shortages, mysterious spots begin to appear on plants, children, then women.
The pathogen spreads, fear builds, and the council initiates an emergency task force that enforces military rule and strict quarantine for those infected – almost all women.
As their human rights are trampled and autonomy taken away, a chance incident offers a way forward, and they begin to plan their escape.
Each chapter is told through one of five female protagonists’ points of view. By viewing the narrative through differing perspectives readers will get a fuller sense of the speculative world and the women’s diversity in their responses to it. Audio voiceovers of the characters’ inner thoughts supplement the action of the story as told through both still and animated frames.
With each installment of the series a new character's point of view is revealed, and a wholistic view of the events is constructed. The structure of the narrative experience, once all the chapter sections are collected, is that of three volumes of three chapters each – each chapter told five different ways. This extended serialized publication honors the grand tradition of comic books, fantasy, & scifi series, and offers short chunks in each installment, expanding the story over time.
Tír is the thesis project of Lucy M Bonner, MFA in Design & Technology at Parsons School of Design. You can read more about the making of Tír and the concepts behind it here.
A new planet allows for an entirely different mindset from remaining on Earth – hope for the future, less encumbered by the past, more focused on progress and a new start for humanity – but also isolation, and the desperation that comes from knowing Earth is no more, there is no going back, and there is nowhere else to go.
Tír was imagined and created – the other planet just within the Tau Ceti's habitable zone, but a strange and inhospitable one. Each aspect of the new planet is mapped out, from the time and technology to get there to the orbit and rotation induced time structures once arrived. Everything contributes to the believability of the world and affects the society built upon it. The pressures of the controlled station community are intensified by their isolation and fear of the alien world.
The foreignness of Tír is entirely due to my imagination. The elements involved are all found on Earth, but to startlingly different results. The different combination of gases in the Tiran atmosphere cause the sky to have a purplish cast, which highlights the planet's two moons even in the daylight. Those moons’ pull on the planet causes some bizarre magnetic fields, which the arriving ship must navigate and newly-landed engineers must account for in building their biosphere. The earth is sulfurous, giving much of it a greenish-gold cast, and a fine compound people begin to term "Dust" permeates the air and ground, infiltrating anything it comes into contact with. It is this Dust that leads the settlers to seal off their biosphere for good, isolating themselves further within their own structures.
The native Tiran plants are designed to thrive in the harsh landscape, multiple varieties of spotted rockbuds and bulbous mushroom-textured organisms dot the ground and tall golden noodles grow in forests across hillsides by their landing site. Crystal colonies take on a semblance of life themselves – as both sheets that cover the land and rock crystal gardens that catch the light and cover entire basins and caves. The settlers’ early years on the planet, before the Seal, were spent exploring these nearby landscapes and attempting to repair their broken propulsion system. Nothing was edible or useful. Everything was poisonous to the newly arrived humans.
Human scientists cannot figure out the Dust, and its infiltration to their highly-filtered biosphere is thought to be the reason for widespread crop failures and declining health and productivity of the Earth livestock. Their sealed and climate-controlled bubbles (described below) and laboratories make little difference to the Dust, and tests continue to reveal its presence in each new cultivation attempt.
The biosphere itself is designed to be fully self-sustaining, as the refugees are fleeing an Earth destroyed through humans' careless habits and are necessarily unwilling to repeat the same environmentally harmful tactics. They brought with them all the supplies and plans for a fully-developed biosphere home, complete with special filtered glass dome bubbles for growing the Earth flora and fauna brought with them in their flight, windmills and solar panels for capturing the natural energies of their future planet, and extremely precise recycling measures for everything from energy to water, food, and waste.
When I crafted the biographies and personalities of the five main characters of the narrative, I created a group of women that would explore multiple and differing perspectives, and exemplify the diversity and variation of real women. In much of mainstream media, women, especially women of color, are not given representation and I did not want to continue that discriminating tradition. Women come in all ages, sexualities, races, biological sexes, and personality types, and my characters are designed to reflect a slice of that spectrum. Their differences influence the varying ways in which they think about and react to the events in the Tiran biosphere, and together create a more holistic, overarching view of the narrative.
As I created these women, I consulted with potential readers for believability and depth. I organized a focus group around character-building as well. The main characters have evolved throughout the process of creating the world and society, and each one has grown in depth. Pieces of their histories and personalities are inspired by women I know personally, tempered with in-depth research into varying expressions of feminism and personal essays of insightful and eloquent women.
By viewing scenes through multiple perspectives – and thereby able to see the motivations of each character independently – users will get a sense of human variability. These diverse experiences need to be recognized and respected for feminism to be the cohesive force necessary to rework the oppressive patriarchal system and obtain true equal human rights for all involved.
Again unwilling to repeat the mistakes of humanity's past, an egalitarian society was initiated. The colonists elected a council of twenty members to govern themselves, of which the character Eleanor was a member. The council's interior committees were formed on the basis of subject-area knowledge or particular interest and research, but committees could only investigate and recommend to the entire council for decision. The council was initially planned and seen as an administration career, and further elections were held each year as more of an indication of their performance than competition. Council members were allotted no special compensation or benefits to deter the materially greedy among the colonists. Every decision and debate was designed to be open and clear to all citizens of the new Tiran colony.
However, as time wore on and events became 'special circumstances' more and more of this idealistic governmental structure became closed off and altered. At the time of my narrative's beginning, the committees were making 'small' decisions without consulting the larger council – for expediency – and one had become self-styled leaders of the council and took charge of every meeting and discussion – through sheer willingness to talk over others and the correct assumption that others would follow suit from an unwillingness to 'cause a scene' at each small occurrence. The material benefits and special privileges of being a council member had grown incrementally. Elections were only a hassle, as the members had not changed in years.
Lucy M Bonner