Artist Interview: Why Sam matters to Mjaravata
We asked Mjaravata, who has her art featured on our site, why Sam matters and what inspired her to draw her character, with or without Lara by her side.
1) Why do you like Sam?
Sam has proven herself to be more than just a pretty face. She’s smart and creative, a graduate in film who actually proves her skills when she’s immersed in her field of work. It’s no wonder she was entrusted with the documentation of the expedition to discovering Yamatai: in one of the cut scenes, we can see how she takes charge and directs people when the cameras are rolling. She can come off as shallow, a wild party girl who loves to drink and go clubbing, but it shows how fun and daring she can be and that’s not so bad. And lastly, contrary to what so many Sam-haters claim, Sam is not always a damsel in distress, a helpless girl who needs to be saved all the time by Lara. In the comics, she’s shown countless times that yes, she can pretty much hold her own and that she’s brave and self-sacrificing, willing to trade her life for Lara’s safety (when she was kidnapped by Matthias fanatics in the first few 2014 issues).
2) Why do you like her relationship with Lara?
Sam and Lara’s friendship go way back to their freshman year at UCL. Lara’s said it herself, she and Sam were so different, but it was exactly this that made their relationship work. Their traits complimented each other: we have Lara, an introvert who can learn to loosen up and socialize with the help of Sam. Sam can learn a thing or two about rein in her wild streak, perhaps learn a thing or two about restraint from Lara. Their field of studies go well together too: archeology and filmmaking. Lara could go on expeditions to uncover secrets and with Sam’s help, document her findings to present to the rest of the world. And during times when Lara has a difficult time reconnecting with people and socializing, Sam can be there to ease her out of her shell of isolation.
3) Why do you think Sam should come back and why it would benefit Lara and her story?
Sam could be a great asset to Lara. She’s an expert with camera and sound equipment, it’s not hard to imagine her instructing Lara how to use these devices when they go out on an expedition. She has the potential to turn the raw data collected from their expedition and turn it into an award-winning documentary. Maybe she’s not as atheltic or fit as Lara, but under Lara’s training, she can learn how to properly fend for herself during dangerous situations. And if their encounters with enemies become more dangerous, she can stay behind, instruct Lara through an earpiece, relay important information the way it’s been done in one of Rise of the Tomb Raider’s DLCs: Cold Darkness, with Nadia instructing Lara about how to take down the towers and get rid of the toxins of the biochemical weapon.
4) What inspired you to create arts on Sam and/or Sam and Lara?
A really big inspiration is the fan fictions I’ve read of these two. A great favorite of mine is Asynca’s The Camera Loves You and The Dreaming. There are other writers like Sniperct and Pfangirl and Deberzer who’ve wrote excellent alternate universes of Sam and Lara. The canon Tomb Raider comics have been a great help fleshing out Sam’s character but it was these fanfiction writers who’ve really explored these characteristics and brought Sam to life. And of course, I’ve been inspired by other artists too: there’s Jar-Cup, Ipodger, Okheshivar and others whose works I’ve discovered on Tumblr. Basically everything tagged S.S. Endurance on Tumblr , from fan fictions, to screenshots, to gifs, photosets, fan arts, and headcannons: they all give me life and inspire to make more art of them.
5) Any other comments?
Sam Nishimura deserves so much more than what Crystal Dynamics has done to her. A character who’s played such a crucial and imporant role in Lara Croft’s life can’t just be cast aside so easily. Lara’s lost so much, gone through so much that I feel that Sam being cut off permanently from her life would be her undoing. The Tomb Raider reboot has done an excellent job portraying Lara as a relatable character who suffers and hurts and relies on people, too. Let’s not put all that buildup to waste. Bring Samantha Nishimura back. Return her to Lara Croft.