Fatima web comic launched

By  Michelle Walsh, Youth Speak News
  • November 12, 2010
Fatima kidsTORONTO - Mitchelle D’Souza has always loved to draw. In fact, she recalls being only five or six years old and getting in trouble for drawing in class instead of paying attention. Now 27, the York University information technology graduate is putting her artistic talents to use. Last August, D’Souza launched an online graphic novel, entitled The Fatima Story.

The comic is an adaptation of the story of the three children, Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta, who witnessed apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Fatima, Portugal, during the First World War.

“In essence, it’s a comic of three ordinary children seeing an extraordinary miracle,” said D’Souza, a parishioner at St. Benedict’s parish in Toronto.

Although the site was launched in August, she started researching the apparitions of Fatima in December 2009. She bases her comic on information from various sources, including the books Our Lady of Fatima by Thomas Walsh, Fatima in Lucia’s Own Words: The True Story of Fatima by John De Marchi and The Last Secret of Fatima by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.

The comic itself depicts the characters of the Fatima story drawn in a style similar to a popular Japanese style of animation called manga. While staying as close as she can to the facts without compromising the flow of the story, D’Souza uses humour to tell the story and said it’s helpful there is a cute character to draw in readers.

D’Souza said people always ask her why she decided to create the comic.

“I don’t really know,” she said. “I was just bored at work and one day it came to me to do a graphic novel about the apparitions.”

But the Fatima story has a personal connection for D’Souza.
“I don’t have any siblings so the Virgin Mary is like a sister to me,” she said. “Also the area I’m from, Goa (in India), was a Portuguese colony and there is a mix of Portuguese and Indian in the area.”  

Still in the beginning stages of her web site creation, D’Souza is hoping her comic will attract young Catholics, whether they know a little or a lot about the Church, while also appealing to a secular audience — the primary viewers of web comics.

Although she said it is difficult to promote the comic due to its religious content and lack of religious comic creators to look to for advice, D’Souza is hopeful.

“Right now I’m just trying to draw in readers, but it’s hard because there are no religious comics on the web. I think that’s another reason for me to do the comic; maybe it’ll encourage more people to do religious comics.”

D’Souza expects the graphic novel to be about 300 pages, and will take close to two years to complete. Each week she plans to add one page to the comic and she has 38 pages of the comic currently posted online (www.fatimakids.com) — chapters one and two.

She is also working on ideas for another comic, involving an atheist girl who is able to talk to the statues of saints and begins to give religion a chance.

The comic creating process involves drawing the comic in pencil and outlining it in ink, followed by scanning it into a computer for editing and uploading. D’Souza said her favourite part is this inking process.

“It’s the final process of the comic before I scan, and I usually do this in silence so it’s like praying for me.”

D’Souza also said her faith has a great influence on her art.

“I guess if I didn’t have faith I wouldn’t have art. If I don’t make God the centre of my life, it’s hard for me to draw.”

Although for now creating comics for her web site is a hobby, D’Souza has an interest in turning it into a career. She has created an online portfolio for her web site that displays some of her previous work, including pieces for St. Benedict’s parish and York University.

(Walsh, 21, is a primary and elementary education student at Memorial University in St. John’s, Nfld.)

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