So, the “RuCap” week of each season always offers a break from the frantic pace of the show. It’s a chance to reflect on the highs and lows of the past few months, and most importantly, to get a whole lot of catty commentary from all our favorite queens of past seasons.
Has Season 7 felt a little weird? Yes. Do most viewers really care who wins? I don’t, not really. But over the course of the season, we have gotten to meet some really stellar characters on this show, and I wanted to take some time this week to reflect on my own experience drawing them.
In past years, I’ve used the RuCap episode as a chance to go back and illustrate any of the important runway looks that I might have missed. But this season, I illustrated a lot of them, and there’s only one outfit left that I was dying to draw:
I actually had a ton of fun illustrating Kennedy’s look. Crazy feather/fur stuff! That mug! The blood! It may have been a totally crazy choice, and her story for the runway might not have made any sense, but it sure burned an image into our minds that will stay crystallized forever. (do you see what I did there?)
There have been plenty of complaints about this season’s emphasis on scripted acting challenges, and rightfully so. But looking back, there were some legendary runway themes, too. Both the “Death Becomes Her” and “Bearded Beauty” ones just gave me life, so many stunning concepts and costumes that inspired some of my favorite Drag Race illustrations ever!
The “Conjoined Queens” and “Dancing Queens” challenges were trickier for me to draw, but I loved them. Such crazy creativity and just, well, craziness on that runway.
With a season of so many stunning creations, I wish their actual construction would have been more of a priority. I wanted to see these queens come up with them, or discuss their collaborators at home. It seems to me like the emphasis in editing was on interpersonal conflict rather than costume construction, and that we rarely saw the best looks being put together in the workroom so that they’d be more of a surprise on the runway. Which is fair, but it seems like a disservice to queens like Max and Violet who display such extraordinary vision and skill in their craft.
I felt like the season’s focus on scripted comedy was a challenge for Trixie, too. Her strength is writing her own comedy, or improvising the bullshit and banter that’s so special about live drag performances. It seemed like the show never knew what to do with Trixie, but I’m so glad that she won over so many new fans in her time on it.
I adore the queen, and I love depicting her shrink-wrapped aesthetic. When she was kicked off (the first time), I wanted to really boil down the essence of Trixie, to commemorate the quirky, ridiculousness of it all. And I’m thrilled that she uses that image on her official tank tops, which you’ve gotta break out for Pride season!
Someone remarked that my best work this season has been of Pearl’s looks, and I can’t really disagree. Going into this season, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect of Pearl — I knew her from her time in Chicago, and although I live for her look, I didn’t know whether she’d bring much diversity to the runway or character to the workroom.
But she delivered. I mean, not always. She wasn’t the most polished queen, and she didn’t have the most gorgeous gowns. But there’s something about her deranged approach to beauty that I find irresistible. She might not always pad, she might not always perform, but I always love what she’s going for.
As I’ve mentioned a few times, Katya was my BenDeLaCreme this year — my personal favorite, the one whose comedy and approach to drag just meshed with my own preferences the most. But in both cases, I struggled throughout the season trying to capture their likenesses! Katya’s usual look is so striking, but so hard to pin down — what makes her look like her? Obviously, it’s SO much easier to depict the crazy characters she embodies so well.
Whenever I tried to depict Katya seriously, I struggled. Especially when trying to draw her incredible “Jet Set Eleganza” lip sync performance.
In my first few hours working on that illustration, I was trying to capture both her emotional intensity and her legendary legs as they did those slow-motion splits. But it just looked more and more awkward, and I was sure the piece would be an embarrassment.
I only turned it around at the very end when I realized I needed to crop her illustration differently, focusing solely on the arch of her back and her emotional intensity. But still, I was worried it was too simple, or the colors were too crazy, or…. I don’t know. It was one of those pieces that put me through the wringer, questioning whether I should even share it online. Aside from its own merits as a piece of art, Katya’s actual performance was so magnificent and memorable that it seems to have charged this fairly simple portrait with some of that same intensity. Or maybe it still sucks, I don’t know.
In any case, I wanted to make one last, iconic portrait of my dear Katya. Something befitting her stupid talents and talented stupidity. And this happened:
I collect my favorite art from each season in little art books, (you can see all the previous season collections here) so I’ve been working through some ideas for who and what should be on the cover for Season 7. One of the final 3? I love Ginger, but I’ve been having a hell of a time capturing her likeness this season. Maybe Pearl or Violet? But which one? And then my personal favorites are Trixie and Katya, so…. well, here, take a look at my different sketches and let me know which one you’d like to see on 70 QUEENS!
Right now, in all honesty, I’m leaning toward the Katya one.
Regardless, I’ll be putting together the book collection over the next two weeks, and I’ll make it available for pre-order soon! While you wait, you can check out all my other Drag Race art on Etsy!
Or, if you’d rather not cover your walls with drag queens, you can support me via Patreon! If you’re not familiar with how that works, it’s a way to support your favorite artists by sending a few bucks their way every month. I’ve just set it all up, so I’m going to keep it pretty simple right now, but I’m hoping to offer exclusive sneak peeks and sales to my supporters soon!
Patreon will be an ideal way to help me out once the Drag Race season wraps up, because I’ll be turning my attention to The Cardboard Kingdom, a new collaborative comics project! I’m currently taking story submissions until June 15, then I’ll pick a bunch of them to illustrate as fun, imaginative, socially-conscious kids’ comics!
And FINALLY! If you’re not sick of me after reading all this, you should come meet me at two shows coming up in June! CAKE in Chicago is a totally free and amazing indie comics show, full of talent, incredible art, and cool workshops! It will be June 6-7 at The Center on Halsted!