Benjamin Filby on illustrating punk fashion designer Dilara Findikoglu as a comic book heroine
Rising fashion star Dilara Findikoglu is a force to be reckoned with.
Two years ago, the Turkish graduate power walked her way into the media’s spotlight by staging a guerilla show at Central Saint Martins. Disappointed with the institution’s highly selective cut of students for their end of year showcase, Findikoglu’s rebellious takeover gave students a chance to present their collections in a more inclusive display; anyone could watch the show, and all students were encouraged to participate. Entitled Encore CSM, it arguably attracted more press and viewers.
Having since staged several presentations and her catwalk debut at London Fashion Week – which was controversially dubbed as a “Satanic orgy” by alt-right show host Alex Jones – Findikoglu has become an ubiquitous presence. Mixing patches of metal bands with occult imagery, and religious iconography with a punk aesthetic, her collections are now sold at Selfridges; her dark, opulent designs worn by the likes of Björk, Rihanna and Grimes. Empowered by the political climate of Turkey, Findikoglu imbues her designs with socio-political and feminist messages that address fundamental issues of humanity. Her SS17 presentation, named Dear Past, Thanks for All the Lessons, was inspired by Çilem Doğan – a woman who won an appeal to the Turkish High Court after being jailed for killing her abusive husband in an act of self defence.
Last month, she released her new comic book Dilara: Warrior Sorceress via independent London publisher Ditto Press. Teaming up with illustrator Benjamin Filby, Ditto’s Ben Freeman and author Amy Tipper-Hale, the collaboration is an extension of Findikoglu’s politically charged designs. Through black and white graphics, Filby flips the idea of male heroes and designs Findikoglu as a heroine saving the world by embarking on a journey to assassinate Trump. Armed with special powers, Findikoglu’s fictional world is rendered complete with illustrations of floating castles, pet snakes and dragons too, of course.
Below, we catch up with Filby to discuss 70s sci-fi aesthetics, how he designed Findikoglu’s superhuman persona and what we can expect to see from him in the future.
How did you first get into illustration and how would you describe your style?
Honestly, I first got into illustration as a kid. l’d look at the covers for books I was reading and would often draw my own versions, and I got really interested in telling stories through drawing. Later on in my teens I started reading comic books more regularly and that fed into what I create. I’d like to say my style is a very ink-heavy mix of 70s sci-fi comics with modern sequential storytelling elements.
What are some of the main influences behind your work?
2000 AD is a big one for me; not only the art, but the sci-fi-meets-satire tone of Judge Dredd and Rogue Trooper are big influences on my work. In terms of content, my work is largely based around folklore, mythology and the occult – seeing how people of the past dealt with what they couldn’t explain, and the wild creations that came out of that.
Could you tell me more about the comic’s story and how the ideas began?
By the time I came onto the project, the main ideas of the story were pretty much locked in. It was more of a matter of developing the look and feel of the comic, based on both the plot and on Dilara’s influences. Taking those, and creating something new from them.
How did you go about creating the comic and how long did the process take?
We had a few sessions where I met with Ben and Dilara, going through the script, sectioning off the story beats into pages and creating storyboards. During this time we also worked together on creating the overall aesthetic of the comic’s characters, and how the world would look. Once that was all decided I set out drawing the interior pages over the next few weeks. After creating the comic itself we went on to develop a strong, iconic image for the cover that embodied Dilara’s comic book persona.
How much input did Dilara have and what was it like working with her?
It was great working with Dilara! I’d say it was more of a collaboration, I was given a lot of input in terms of story, styling for certain characters, and of historic costuming, that merged together into what I had developed for the book.
Do you see any parallels between your work and Dilara’s?
I think that whilst the method in which our work comes out is different, we both use our art to say something. Be it exploring an idea, or message about how the world should be.
What are your plans for the future?
I’d really like to see what directions we could take this comic in as a series! It’d be really cool to see new adventures of Dilara: Warrior Sorceress.
Dilara: Warrior Sorceress is out now on Ditto