So how did you ever come up with "Lively"?
I get asked this A LOT!
I also get asked:
Who is that girl?
You know, that girl you always draw???
Well, I don't ALWAYS draw her. But, I draw her THE MOST.
It is COMPLETELY normal for artists to have their own original characters. Just as it's totally normal for little kids to play with dolls or action figures, dress them up in their own ways, express their dreams, fantasies, ideals, and be imaginative. It's NO different than a Director or Producer, or Playwrights making up their own stories to entertain others, if not themselves. Everyone day dreams in their life, everyone has fantasies... I'm just sometimes better at taking what I see in my mind, my imagination, and translating it to form & beauty (arguably).
Lively grew up with me. She wore the fashions I wore, or clothes I WISHED to wear. She liked what I liked, she embodied my ideas, my ideals, my dreams, my hopes, whether it was something I wanted to be, wished to be, or just another variation of me. She was everyone's friend, benevolent, and full of life. She was the heroine, or the hero, or shero. Lively is innately GOOD. She is kind to animals, and even honorable to her enemies. She can turn her enemies into her friends. She's smart, clever, funny, expressive, sexy, feminine, modern, feminist (in a positive way), forgiving, diplomatic, eloquent, artistic, flashy or elegant, diverse, and more.
And, just like Barbie she can be and do everything... but, she's a brunet!
BUT: She started out as 2 girls originally.
Didn't know THAT did you?
Yes. She started out as 2 sisters (since I didn't have a sister), and the names were actually borrowed from an episode of "Star Trek The Next Generation".
Lwaxana Troi. (Yes, the Kirsten Dunst episode.)
So, the 2 girls were named Kestrel (like the sparrow hawk bird), and Hedrol. (Like Kestra & Hedril from the Star Trek Episode).
What's funny is I ALMOST named my daughter (Heidi) to be Kestrel, but her father vetoed it.
The 2 sisters, Kestrel & Hedrol, were NOT twins tho', even tho' they looked similar. 1 was older than the other. I drew them in brown costumes which looked VERY similar to the 1990s version "Black Cat" from Marvel Comics (if you are a Spider Man fan), except the costumes were brown. But, with a furrier collar, and more luxuriously fluffy furry arms & boot cuffs.
But, more & more, I began to draw Herdrol to be similar to the 80s version"Shadowcat" (X-MEN/New Mutants/Excalibur) but with more of an early-mid 1990s Poet blouse with thigh-high lace-up boots.
I also didn't have them wear masks.
If I ever find my old sketch books, I will scan the sketches & publish them in my blogs, here.
I really began to come up with their looks in the 6th-8th grade. At the same time I also drew Ariel, and when "Beauty & The Beast" came out I drew Belle, or when "Aladdin" came out, I drew Jasmine.
After drawing Jasmine, that's when I really went crazy with American comic books, especially X-MEN! I even had a subscription to Excalibur, and would special-order comics from catalogs, because local stores in South Jersey didn't carry everything I wanted to read the most!
During the 1980s, and even through the 1990s, there was a big cultural progressive movement to reach out and learn other cultures, overcome prejudices, and ALSO to teach girls & women that YOU could be strong ,or do the same jobs or things that MEN did, and it was OK. I remember watching made-for-TV movies about women whom became "firemen" despite the prejudices of their local communities.
I remember strong women like Hillary Clinton with her push to get Healthcare, or "It takes a village", or women like Oprah Winfrey whom dared to stand up and tell the world she was a rape victim, and it was wrong, and to tell other girls & women that it wasn't their fault. That takes guts!
And, I liked TV shows in the 80s like "Wonder Woman", or in the 1990s like "Xena; Warrior Princess".
I was drawn to strong women characters. What I liked about "Xena" was that her story was that of a woman that had been so wronged & wounded, and then she went so rotten, that she was an evil villain that massacred and did terrible things worse than what was done to her. But, she was "saved" or redeemed by "the power of good" by characters like Hercules and the innocent yet very clever girl, Gabrielle, whom could not only read & write, but was a bard, and became Xena's disciple and Amazon warrior princess as well, and even a spiritual guru.
Also, what I liked about Xena, played by Lucy Lawless was that she was a dark beauty (which was actually all fake... a fake tan, and fake colored black hair) but her body was BIG. She looked strong. She had muscle. She looked believable. (Ironically, because it was a very cartoonish action show based on old Hong Kong action styles, with flying wire scenes, exaggerated stunts, cheesy jokes, etc.) And, the story of Lucy Lawless (which I've read number of articles about) was just as interesting.
But, this character was a sort of counter culture to this every pressing BE BLOND & BONEY OR ELSE YOU ARE NOT BEAUTIFUL idea in the media. *gagging*
I'm NOT blond, and I don't want to be. AND, I don't think that blond is more beautiful either.
But, this character was also a large influence on me as well, and my characters.
In Middle School, I had writing classes in which I had to write stories based on a certain subject, or vocabulary words, etc. Creative writing and so on.
So, those stories morphed the 2 characters of Kestrel & Hedrol together. Because I needed 1 main character. Just 1 girl. Those stories were usually either ghosts stories, paranormal, mysteries, or fantasies, magical, spiritual, and philosophical, and they practically wrote themselves... Often times, I would like these stories I wrote so much that I would sketch them out in my sketch books.
When I was in Middle school, I found out I was of Mescalero Apache descent. So, I wanted to learn a lot about my Heritage... but, I couldn't find any... I knew more about the local Native American tribes (because they taught it to us in school) than I did about my own Nation. (That would be the Leni Lenape.) But, also in the 1990s there was this whole resurgence of Native Americans sharing their culture and opening it up to let's say "The World"... unfortunately, it got VERY commercialized. But, I used to dress often times in many Native American themed, or Western Themed fashions back then. People were VERY racist to me when I did this... but, I found that when other people whom also had Native American Heritage and were mixed like I was, they very much respected me for it, and did the same...
Unfortunately, interacting with Reservation Indians was a VERY bad experience. The full-bloods, or fuller-bloods were extremely racist to me, extremely mean, and the men were often times the worst sort of sexist jerks, and so scary. I'd worked so hard in support of so many pro-Indian rights, educational more accurate telling of the history of the nation, only to be stabbed in the back so viciously. So, I no longer attend Pow-wows. And, I no longer dress in my Native Cultural dress/clothing. I'm so hurt & stung by the negative interactions, that I gave up on much native stuff... It really hurts... but, I understand NOW just WHY my ancestors left the Tribal life... Turns out that sometimes tribal ways REALLY SUCK. (Especially when the men are misogynistic.) No offense... :-(
But, anyways, since many ethnic cultural things were popular in Hollywood or Western Media in the 90s, which was seen as a good thing, and diversity, I had a 3 female character.
The 3rd female character was named Osprey, and she was like a wise woman or Guide to both Kestrel & Hedrol. She also spoke multiple languages, and was a computer geek wiz, but she dressed in Native looking clothing, (also hippy, BOHO, or Western with fringe, or the Traditional shirts with ribbons) and spent time meditating in the woods, and was almost ghost-like as a Ninja would be, and quoted zen proverbs, or danced naked in the rain. Yeah, very 1990s-ish. *shrugs*
Kinda silly, huh? I don't know why Native American characters are always portrayed as so stoic sometimes, because if you've ever gone to Pow-wows with family groups, they are SO silly, and tease each other like witty brats, even the grown-ups! I think if I had kept that character, and ever used her or published her in today's era, I think I'd PROBABLY get so much hate for it... so, I eventually scrapped her... To bad, because she was very kind hearted, even tho' she was quirky here & there...
But, since my nickname in middle school & high school was Pocahontas, I did a report on here in Middle School, and I did another report on Sacajawea.
So, it was around THAT time that I went through some big changes, and the 2 sisters Kestrel & Hedrol became 1 girl, instead of just 2...
I believe I made a story about it as well... It was VERY sad...
Osprey died... I can't remember exactly why... just that it was something noble... (sorry... the cliche of the "noble savage"...) But, her ghost/spirit came back to talk to (I think it was) Hedroll....
But, then... in a turn for the worst... Kestral died too....
Then, I was upset with myself for killing them off... I brought back Kestral.... but, I just couldn't feel it anymore... and I didn't like the concept anymore... as much... I got bored with the 2 sisters theme... and since I'd mostly been doing the short stories projects with a single girl character, it just went on as the 1 girl....
But, she had no name.... she was a mix between Kestrel & Hedrol, but, she would be more exotic & sexy.. like Xena... She even began having black hair, instead of brown or dark brown, and for a while, wasn't quite as European looking... but she ALWAYS had blue eyes. ALWAYS.
Her hair went through MANY styles, and I DID NOT like limiting her to having to be STUCK in 1 hairstyle. (something I resented about character design class in college)
Anyways, Lively REALLY began taking form in Highschool, and by the time I graduated, she was named, and I had a number of concepts already started for her.
But, that's another story for another blog post...