Margaret Atwood's design for Dr Snit's Twitter avatar.
With more than a dozen novels, 17 poetry collections and countless literary awards including the 2000 Man Booker prize to her name, Margaret Atwood's credentials as one of the world's greatest living writers are not in question. What have been less well known until now, however, are her skills as a draughtswoman and fashion designer – specifically, as a creator of superhero outfits.
That surprising talent has emerged in a remarkable exchange over Twitter, which saw the Canadian writer contacting two readers who had expressed admiration for her work, and offering to design "superhero comix costumes" for their avatar alter-egos, @kidney_boy and @DrSnit.
"[They] both have excellent Twitter names – suitable for superheroes – and were comix fans, and were discussing Comic.con, as I recall," she told the Guardian.
"I just thought it would be fun to draw some superhero costumes for them, as their names were so evocative, so asked them what magic powers they would like to have. I was writing about superheroes at the time – where did they come from, who are their literary and mythic ancestors, and so forth – because my first Richard Ellman Lecture at Emory College – delivered Sunday – was about superheroes."
The resulting designs, complete with "flying magic kidney helpers" and a suitably chilling enemy, "the Paniac", show that the creator of the dystopian visions of The Handmaid's Tale and Oryx and Crake has lost none of her imaginative powers.
"DrSnit has an autoimmune disease and wanted freedom from pain, so I gave her a magic wand encircled by Tylenols, a magic word, and a pain-linked Enemy to be overcome," Atwood said.
"Kidney Boy is a nephrologist, and he wanted the abiity to insert kidneys into his dialysis patients, plus 'the flying-around thing'. I gave him a Kidney Helmet, an instant scalpel, a magic word, and some flying kidney helpers – presumably it is these that may pop into the dialysis patients with no fuss. I think I made his boots a little big, but I am assured by a Twitter fan that these are good 'shit-kicking' boots for the Emergency Room. Kidney Boy is not coloured in yet but I will do that soon."
The exchange began when Joel Topf, a clinical nephrologist in Detroit who tweets as @kidney_boy, messaged Melissa Travis, a writer and comedian in Atlanta. Atwood retweeted the message, and then, to their surprise, messaged them both. On 9 October, Dr Snit, as imagined by Atwood, duly appeared by Twitpic. Dressed in a scarlet basque and an orange cape, and carrying a painkiller pill wand, the doctor was trampling underfoot "her arch-enemy" the Paniac, a creature resembling a slug with spines.
Kidney Boy, wielding an "instant scalpel" and with a kidney hat on his head, arrived this week, though he is as yet monochrome. "Choosing colours - purple, orange, red?" the author tweeted Topf. "Boots too large? Hope you like …"
She said last night that they "are both thrilled with their new outfits".
Atwood said her love of comics began when she was young: "I grew up in the world of comics and used to draw some myself, both as a child and later when I ran some ironic strips for a while. You can go onto my website and see some of them.
"I used to run a silk-screen poster business while in university ... The Fisher Library at University of Toronto has some of the posters.
"My piece on Twitter can be found at the NYRB blog, Atwood in the Twittersphere. I think it works for certain kinds of contacts because it is short: like something you might send as a telegram or put up on a bulletin board."
Atwood's book with this material in it will be called In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination, and will come out next autumn.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
So Funny! Who Knew? 'Margaret Atwood creates superhero outfits for Twitter avatars' thanks Patricia! | Books | The Guardian
Posted by siobhan at 7:59 PM