Saturday, September 15, 2007

Telenovelas

I'm currently working on an assignment for StopOver magazine about the dominance of telenovelas in the lives of South Americans. Telenovelas are basically soap operas that have a finite number of episodes and are usually shown 5-6 days a week for about 6 months or so. "Ugly Betty" is a descendant of the Columbian telenovela Yo soy Betty, la fea (I am Betty, the ugly one.) A good deal of the article deals with how the majority of the public that watches these telenovelas have nothing even remotely in common with the characters represented in these programs; white, well-off, and generally disconnected from the everyday problems of the average person living in the modern cities of South America. The high drama format of the telenovela provided me with lots of fun imagery to work with, so coming up with thumbs wasn't dificult at all-



One of things I wanted to play with in the thumbs is the recent actions by Hugo Chavez involving the shutdown of Radio Caracas TV, one of the founders of the telenovelas, for reasons that range from the distribution of "pornographic" material (the telenovela) to political malfeasance. It's been reported that 70% of the Venezuelan people opposed this act.

I went with two very different ideas for the rough sketches - With the first I was interested in presenting the idea in a comic panel format (According to my dad, telenovelas started out as photonovelas, which were staged photos presented in a comic-book format. I didn't find this out until after the sketch was done). The comic panel format allowed me to show a number of different vignettes that represented the general themes of the telenovela, primarily being two people shacking up, and people freaking out about those people shacking up-not too different from our soap opera crap.


The next sketch took a little less complex direction but I think it got the idea over in a conceptual and simple fashion. I liked it because I thought a reader would be able to see it and get a pretty direct impression of what the article would be about.



To my suprise the AD and editors decided to go with the first sketch - In a way this was my choice just because I wanted the chance to illustrate Hugo Chavez. Below is the finished drawing that is going to painted in acrylics. The header is just a comp to be done later in photoshop.


1 comment:

Robin said...

Latin American telenovelas don't just have an impact on Latin America -- they're a global phenom! I watch them in the US via satellite (and US networks like Univision, Telefutura, Telemundo, and Azteca America).

I loved the drawing which captures the drama of the genre and the inclusion of Chavez is highly relevant. "Novelas" often are vehicles for social education and commentary, which means that they pose as much a threat to Chavez as they do for their purported ability to teach the masses immorality.

A good blog on the subject is: http://telenovelas-carolina.blogspot.com/ The author teaches a college-level course on the topic in Georgia and has close ties to the Venezuelan producers.