- World of Warcraft Fanart Profile: Tauren Women
- World of Warcraft Fanart Profile: Gnomish Women
- World of Warcraft Fanart Profiles: Sylvanas Windrunner
- World of Warcraft Fanart Profiles: Troll women
This is part of an ongoing series that reviews and attempts to deconstruct common tropes in the Blizzard Fanart Gallery. This is not a critique of the choices of individual artists, but a look at the choices Blizzard and those artists have made. For reasons of time/expendiency I am limiting this series to what is currently in the Blizzard Fan Art Gallery, but please feel free to share your favourites from elsewhere in the comments. Just please try to make sure they are credited properly and on the theme of the post.
This week I have chosen to concentrate on Gnomes. Partly because the thought of tackling Draenei or Elves leaves me in a wibbling pile of moosh. There is lot of Draenei/Elf, much of it very much focusing on the beauty of the female form as opposed to how badass/melancholy/triumphant/cheerful she is. It’s not fun to do, and I also don’t feel as comfortable trawling through them on my lunch break as I do with the smaller themes/tropes.
If you have a suggestion for a future Fanart Profile, please drop me a line via comments, email or twitter. I may not get around to it straight away, but I shall tuck it away and maybe start working on it.
The Fan Art
- Doogan and Rosary by Colin Walbridge 11/03/05
- Kimmi Card by Colin Walbridge 14/07/05
- Kimmi Tinkering by Colin Walbridge 14/07/05
- Crafty Kimmi and the Mighty Lachine Jellybean by Colin Walbridge 21/07/05
- Cassandra by Annette Nielse 12/08/05
- Comic Part 1 by Daniel Lueke 19/08/05
- Comic Part 2 by Daniel Lueke 19/08/05
- Realm Walkers by Colin Walbridge 26/08/05
- The Might Lachine Jellybean by Colin Walbridge 13/07/06 ((Added later))
- Realmwalkers by Colin Walbridge 15/12/06
- Go Fish by Monica Langlois 18/01/07 ((Thanks to Syl for pointing it out))
- Korea Fan Art Contest by Anonymous 05/09/07
- Korea Fan Art Contest by shinart.net 05/09/07
- Summer by xia jie 25/06/08
- Braving the Shadows by Jay Darnell 05/02/09
- Death Knights’ Daramel Dancin’ by Charlotte Su 25/03/09
- Girl Fight by Dane Miner 13/05/09
- Check you head by Yang Yang 16/12/09
- Gnome Force by ke.su(suke) 08/01/10
- Gnome by Tooth 12/05/10
Overall, especially for 2005/2006, this was very fun to compile. The art presents Gnomish women in a variety of situation, casting them as melee fighters, casters, scholars and engineers. With the Kimmi and Realmwalker images I really thought of the gnomes as characters rather than something created to ‘look sexy’, which was refreshing.
Gnomish women are generally covered up, and about 50% of the clothing will emphasise a womanly figure (see the Comics by Daniel Lueke) but I wonder how much of that is due to the association of gnomes with hyperactive children. This is not, mind you, time to start linking the gnomish porn to me. The gnomish women seem to be calmer and more sensible in appearance than the ‘crazy professor’ trope that gnomish men inhabit, and my impression is that you’ll rarely see a ‘sexualised’ male gnome either.
[Interlude: Another problematic thing there, my 'anecdata' suggests that male gnomes are often viewed as downright creepy, which jives with 'crazy professor'. y/n/other experience? Tell me in the comments!]
Gnomes have large heads, proportionately, and most players pick faces that could be described as cute. So a couple of pictures present gnomish women pretty much as children (Summer by xia jie and Check you head by Yang Yang) but it is arguable that the gnome here is acting within manga/anime tropes. In more recent postings, the two female gnomes posted in 2010, both gnomish women are background to an active male front man. However they are not sexualised, which suggests being ‘part of the team’.
So when I started compiling this Fan Art Profile, I was really happy to come across the art by Colin Walbridge. The little ‘Kimmi’ series was wonderful and awesome. And then I innocently thought I’d find his hope page and link it up as a thank you for the refreshing art. I was really jazzed about this, I really enjoyed the art that really cast the subjects as ‘characters’ instead of ‘pretty babe to look at #8379487′ and ‘angry moody warrior #988387′. Much of the gnomish art seems to be more about storytelling than ‘pretty’.
When I finally got to his site I did find a whole slew of ‘gnomish’ art, but it feels more ‘halfling’ inclined, to be honest, and then there were a couple of images that made me facepalm. 99% of the ‘human size’ characters are nude, and google actually brings up ‘Elfin Porn’ when his name is put in. The rest of his site is extremely NSFW. The realmwalker’s gallery is just about okay, but browse the rest of the site at your peril. Yeah. I did a sad fase.
Gnomish Fan Art on the official gallery is fun, and quirky and desexualised while still clearly feminine. However they are easily infantalized and seen as comedic value, and there are less representations of Gnomish women in the gallery than the Tauren, which surprised me. As a species Blizzard has designed them to be comedic and ‘fun’, and the art continues this theme. Gnomes in WoW are the geeks and the nerds, without the edge of Goblins, and aren’t supposed to be what is considered conventionally attractive (tall, leggy, hourglass).
Any thoughts? I must admit I’m struggling to read in more than the infantilisation and geekery of gnomes, both factors which desexualised them as characters by mainstream society. Is it possible to have little characters that don’t have to be over sexualised to be percieved as adult agents by viewers? I think this is a little more difficult for female depictions, but I note that there are no ‘old female gnomes’, which beards and signifiers of age are more common for male gnomes.
I will also say that I only have a gnome warrior as my alt. She’s called Vlasta and she is awesome. I kind of wish there was some art of female gnomes on the end of a whirling giant axe, but we can’t have everything – however what do more consistent gnome players think?
And for my next trick: Illidan art!