by Danny Garrett, Austin, Texas
In this second full-page illustration plate, we glimpse the seminal moment when Princess April is standing between two worlds – that of her safe home, the Enchanted Forest, and the Great World (our world). The line between the two shines, as a plumed and caped black spider bids her entry. Her constant companion, the blue butterfly, still rolls its eyes, and while hand-less seems to continue its moan.
The only other image of animate life form is the nest with eggs high up in the bough of the tree.
This image is semiotically rich. Figures, colors and composition are chock full of symbols and signs that tell a story of their own. Consider for a moment how the space in the illustration is divided and how the coloration enhances this division. The upper part, about 2/3 of the image, is light and airy and signifies the haven of the Enchanted Forest, while the lower part, dark and somewhat dense, delineates the Great World, with its dangers and challenges.
Even the foliage speaks to this dichotomy – garlands wrap the trunk of the tree, whose brown is almost as light as the popcorn blossoms hanging from its limbs and the star-shaped flowers on the ground. Beneath the shining border, a darker field with dense deco-plants speaks of a landscape not so benign.
While this illustration appears simple, almost primitive, Letitia inserts sophisticated design elements. She created a simple, practically invisible, design line that carries the viewer from the lower left corner to the right side and out the upper left hand corner. You can follow this line by tracing the thread of the upper part of the web to the base of the tree and upward along the underside of the branch until it exits in the NW corner. As the eye follows this ‘line’, the narrative of the moment is revealed.