VISION f may say so, there are actually two visions in this work, first that of Raven, then that of the artist. Both of the are relevant not only to what the audience of this work sees, an aspect of vision, but also the work's general IMPACT on them, so that, if I may, I will combine these two.
Before I proceed to the heart of the critique, I would like to share my own holistic, over all reaction to the work: I rate it excellent; if I were a "genuine" teacher of art history or appreciation I would rate the picture "A." but as an observer of various works of art--beauty, symbolism, etc., and as a one-time student of art appreciation, speaking for myself and I'm sure many others, I rate the work as positively delightful; the picture is based on an episode of "Teen Titans Go!," a Halloween "special" during which Raven reads Poe's famous poem "The Raven, but in large writing on top of the poem in the book she has written "Be yourself." In the actual cartoon Raven is the smallest of the Titans, maybe the youngest, I believe approximately 15 years old. When she reveals her face and head, as for example to Beast Boy when he sings his well-written "love song" to her, she has a pretty face with short, raven-purple hair, and nicely shaped, in THIS case even "dreamy" violet-blue eyes. Her complexion is an odd though not un-hecoming grayish-fair. I don't believe it is "pasty," unhealthy. When she is without her cloak, when it is taken while she is in the shower, she emerges in her usual black costume, short--though of course not too short, considering this event occurs in a generally "G-rated" cartoon-- but short enough to display a figure comparable to Starfire's, in fact I believe more so" a slender waist with developing bosom and again larger hips and thighs than her waist showing her on the way to a fine womanly figure; though Raven IS a 15-year-old girl, and I concur with artists at DA who depict her with a considerably more mature figure consistent,even beyond that age: larger bosom, larger hips, thighs and rear, plus legs that just won't quit. Indeed, in the very episode before mentioned, Raven's legs are her best feature, totally well-shaped and powerful. But hidden in her cloak and hood as she is in by far the most episodes, Raven is almost a waif; she is basically above ground and her feet and legs are invisible. Likewise she is silent and morose most of the time, so that she may not only be "a daemon ready to strike," silent in the meantime, but actually shy. When she speaks she may not show this, but aren't her vocal statements rather short though to the point? And, doesn't she in fact rarely speak at all? To me this reveals a certain shyness: all of which leads to the VISION-IMPACT of the work.
The work is of course humorous since it shows a basically slender, shapely young lady as ENORMOUSLY fat, funny to the audience and I think (hope) intentionally so by the artist. However, I don't believe any kind of humor is the primary impact designed to reach the audience: yes, her clothes are very tight, making her look perhaps precisely as fat as she is, and since we see Raven from the back we see a certain part of a fat rear, and her once athletic legs are now very, very plump, all of which indicates a love of food and a good deal of lazines, because in a good number of episodes of "Teen Titans Go" the gang is rather sleepily sitting on the couch, probably watching TV. In two episodes Speed (is that his name) takes over the Titans from Robin largely because Speed does ALL of their work for them, and when he again steals the Titans from Robin Speed provides a hot tub or lawn chair where four of the Titans relax while "the Red-Haired Robin" does--again--all their work for them. When Robin breaks Speed's "other leg," and calls for his stolen team to help him, the three Titans, Raven, Cyborg and Starfire decline his begging-call for assistance, not lifting a finger to help their injured "leader," comfortably enjoying colas, lemonade and other goodies Speed has provided them, indifferently lying on their lawn chairs. Maybe this is the result of, to them, the exessive work Robin has made them do; significantly it's Raven who says "We hate work; but in another episode the Titans are not called for a long, long time, and when a crime alert appears on their screen they don't even know what to do, basically enjoying themselves with dancing. Finally I need to point out that the apparent center of "Teen Tins Go!," the symbol of their basic laziness, is the couch. In the episode in which the Titans face "elimination," the 299th episode, all of them agree that COMEDY, not action is the center of their existence, that in fact somewhat humorous--especially to kids--"noises in the lower regions" are THE basis of their comedy, and are so fanatic about this that they create a "200th episode" where dialogue is virtually inaudible since these "noises" are loud and, well, ruin everything: still Robin calls it "great!" Considering all this, isn't it NOT surprising that little Raven, at least, would, well, "put on weight"? She spends much of her time in her room reading obscure, magic-oriented books, and I think the Titans simply don't have to EARN money because the Team is underwritten by wealthy Batman-Bruce Wayne, continuing to support his ward "his chum, his 'Boy Wonder,'" on one occasion sending Robin and the Titans $100,000. for "a new crime lab," as Robin lies, actually using the money as a down payment for "rental property." I'm NOT saying that people who don't or can't work and are financed by the government, family members--or their own wealth--are necessarily fat, but isn't it just possible that, in the case of Raven anyway as illustrated so well above, that it MIGHT encourage a basic laziness, maybe the affordability of good, fine--FATTENING foods? BUT as I have already mentioned, Raven's fatness is not, or should not be, the only focus, SCOPE or VISION of the artist, nor yet the only IMPACT the observer may have.
It occurs to me that, since Raven is performing a reading before a large audience--US, maybe her shyness, as well perhaps as her self-consciousness with respect to her weight and size in the above work--her basic shyness might threaten the entire enterpeise. So it is that she has written in large letters "Be yourself" at the top of the poem, to encourage her to read the poem as it was meant to be read: dramatically, mysteriously, frighteningly, hopelessly, desperately--in her own inimitable half-daemon voice, so fitting for the poem, as well as the appropriate gestures she must make to add to the drama of the reading: if she IS herself: fat, yes, but not without a degree of sexiness in very tighgt-fitting clothes and a bottom largely uncovered (though maybe not visible from the front very clear to us in the back; and a short, ill-fitting cloak--maybe she will be more confident as she reads, and of course her daemonic nature won't fail to help. MY opinion of the artists huge scope is that people SHOULD be themselves; they should not try to hide their true natures when they meet people, go to work, make friends. No matter what they may look like, "fat" as they may be, if people are themselves, if they're honest with others, if they do not project a "manufactored," false image to others, they may find their honesty will be more successful than any fake one, any mask--or perhaps a podium set before a mistakenly self-conscious or embarrassed Raven, behind which she can sit, hiding her body basically, showing only her face and shoulders; or even speaking into a microphone that enables her to project her daemonic voice but people don't SEE her. Instead they see a spooky raven, a desperate "Poe" (actually speaker)--then a grave! Scary as that is it does not match the drama of a live reading. IF Raven is confident, bold--which she can be indeed--honest and fearless of her appearance and people's reaction to it: if she is indeed herself her reading-performance WILL be successful, and as I've said there is STILL an amount of sexiness inside and outside so that ,at least at times, her weight can be overlooked. I hope I have accurately reflected at least a logical description of the artist's vision, which as I see it can be useful to most people--universal, maybe, in a large extent. The IMPACT for observers of the work is a direct reaction of people not only to the appearance of the subject but also to the message the artist has for the observer: I think it is very effective. The artist, and perhaps Raven herself, will encourage people to be themselves, and as I see it, this does work; you don't have to be half-daemon to have a successful reading. Moreover, and this is something I have not mentioned before, the work reminds people that fatness is a part of the human condition. It can be acquired by almost anyone, even the hardest-working of people, not only to the lazy, the indifferent. Raven can be these things, explaining her fatness here; but people may be reminded that, while some find fatness--well, especially obesity
funny, what if it happens to them, to friends, to family: is it in fact "funny" then?
As for ORIGINALITY, I will say I have seen a number of pictures of a fat Raven. I will add I have not seen any of a SUPERIOR quality as this. I realize this observation may not be entirely fait, or that it is incomplete. However, I can only work with those I've seen, but the appearance of Raven here is that of a girl who, though obese, has not lost her vision of sexuality, considering the uncovering of most of her bottom as well as the tight, tight costume in the style to which she is accustomed, is accompanied, at least in my opinion, by a certain allure, a rather erotic attraction, at least to me, and I hope to others. I have discussed some of these matters earlier. . . . . Again, as far as the theme, vision, scope of other "Fat Raven" pictures is concerned, it's not possible for me to address this question except in a very limited sense. Among the pictures of the obese super-heroine, it's my opinion that, those only that I've viewed a little closer than others--I believe their chief interest is mainly in comedy. By no means do I condemn this. After all, "Teen Titans Go!" is a cartoon, and unlike the original "Teen Titans" is itself a comedy. It's not inappropriate to create a super-plump Raven--or a super-plump Starfire, since in a way these two might tempt caricature: they have been shown lazy , desirous to call 911 when there's an emergency, have preferred Speed to do their work for them while they bask in the sun or soak in his hot tub, providing them colas and other drinks, but more important pizza after pizza--none of which they have to pay for. So, it's rather logical for Raven, or Starfire, to be caricaturized as fat; maybe Raven in particular since she rather much smaller and shorter than Star and the other Titans. Comedy is not absent from the work I have critiqued today, not by any means, but again I think I have mentioned that toward the beginning of this critique. Having not LOOKED for a deeper theme than humor in the others I've viewed, I will say that here the scope touches not only laughter but a universal concept of honesty, and doing ones best in one's task, "putting your best foot forward" as Raven suggests in that concise, surprisingly packed note to herself, viewed so much by people as a cliche and yet full of implications they haven't even thought of. I can't say the scope, range or vision matches or doesn't match this; I'm trying to be fair and I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings. It only appears to me that this artwork does not only depict "a human blimp."
Finally, regarding TECHNIQUE: inasmuch as I don't know much of the actual act of painting, I can't say exactly --well, practically nothing--much about it. The work is very noticable, and though she is fat Raven IS recognizably Raven. But I can't say with certainty or even honesty how the artist's technique has contributed to the theme of the work. But I will say on a final note that THIS is my favorite picture of Fat Raven--I've not seen them all closely but believe I have seen enough of them to state my own observation.