Act 1, Scene 31 – “The princess and the clown.”

boxes1-page-001Notes on All That Glitters Part One

Portia and Nerissa are back in a two-part cartoon, and they’ve brought their famous three boxes with them to test the Prince of Morocco’s love/lust/luck/ability to win at party games.

As the year draws in, act one of Zounds is coming to its end, so filling the remaining slots has started to become about what I need to do now in terms of where I want to be for next year. This one ticked two important boxes – another two-parter, establishing them as a part of the format, and revisiting Portia and Nerissa, two of my favourite characters from the series, who I definitely have an eye on for a recurring role in act two. Will and the Lady are the most expressive and flexible characters I have and Hamlet is I think the best designed – but to me, Portia is the funniest.

When I drew this, I actually hadn’t made up my mind who the man was – whether a generic original suitor, Morocco, Aragon or even Bassanio (which would have made his friend Gratiano). When it developed into a two-parter, Morocco fitted the bill best. Presumably, they all bring a wingman who gets to marry Nerissa if they choose the right box.

I took the opportunity to tweak Nerissa’s costume a little bit this time around. I originally drew her around the time I was setting up the Lady as a recurring character, and their designs did end up influencing each other a bit. Nerissa’s strongest visual signature is the very straight, sensible black hair, so I’ve also pushed that further, making it shorter and neater to give her a very different silhouette to both the Lady’s wild mop and Portia’s blonde pompadour.

Portia is without a doubt the character that took the most work to pin down a look for, and I have a notebook with pages of designs to prove it. She had to be simultaneously the princess and the clown, which is a tough balancing act to pull off. We’ve still never seen her in male disguise, and I don’t think we ever will. It’s much more fun imagining her going into Antonio’s trial in a ball gown with a ludicrous fake beard.

The conclusion will be published next week. Will Morocco crack the most obvious puzzle in English literature or be doomed to get himself to a male nunnery? Tune in next week, same bard-time, same bard-channel…

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