Thursday, July 22, 2010

"Lemon Cowgirl" by Kabuki Katze (2005)

Lemon Cowgirl by Kabuki Katze (2005)

This particular picture has been absent from the Internet for a little while, as Kabuki Katze removed it from her deviantArt account some time ago as no longer representative of her capabilities. If I know her, I am sure she is wincing a little to see this older piece of hers. That said, "Lemon Cowgirl" is a vital moment in the evolution of the Captain Satellite cast. It was only the second time one of those characters was handled by hands other than mine, and it was the first such piece that directly influenced my handling of that world.

It all started on Aug. 12, 2005, when I was one of several recipients of a private message from Kabuki. It seemed she wanted to thank us for our individual contributions to her account by doing giftart for each of us. Well, that was deeply flattering for me, and I pondered a good subject for this little gift.

Ordinarily at that time, I probably would have immediately asked for something pertaining to Return of Jetman. However, it just so happened that Kabuki had recently finished off a rather large and challenging commission project for ROJ. So tossing more such stuff her way so soon didn't sound especially like something she would have wanted. And honestly, I felt like I should use this opportunity for something a little more creative. That is when I thought of Shelly Ericson.

We've discussed the genesis of Shelly in the past, but in 2005, she had yet to be so much as mentioned online. That was mostly because I didn't have the confidence yet to write stories with those characters, and my attempts to draw her were wanting. But I had ideas for her - in fact, her present incarnation was already starting to take shape. I decided, after much uncertainty over the years, that a good outfit for her would be something similar to that worn by Naomi Morinaga as "Annie" on UCHU KEIJI SHAIDER. That led to the concept of twisting Shaider's relationships around to create the Cap/Shelly dynamic, and establishing Shelly as the better action hero no matter who had the super suit.

In explaining Shelly to Kabuki, I kept it brief : 1) attractive (dur!), 2) brown hair, and 3) an outfit similar to "Annie", with a link. Kabuki chose to use Annie's movie outfit (seen here) as her inspiration, rather than the more familiar TV colors (seen here). That is how yellow became one of the prominent colors in many of Shelly's subsequent outfits.

Kabuki used Imani Coppola's "Legend of a Cowgirl" as another inspiration when doing this picture, due to the neo-Western theme I'd sort of given her. This inadvertently played right into my (still secret) plans for Shelly when Kabuki added the line "Good as any man" to flesh out the piece. Seriously, she couldn't have read my mind any better if she were psychic.

I don't know why Kabuki chose to illustrate Shelly in the style of a Nagel girl, other than perhaps she wanted to give that a go. It's sexy, isn't it? I can't see the current version of Shelly being in such a pose, but nobody knew enough about her when this prototype was created for it to make a difference. That includes me, by the way.

I seem to recall one or two commenters not understanding the Nagel influence when this was originally posted September 3, 2005, but it was mostly well-received. I know I was tickled by it. I promised Kabuki that I would find a place for it on my site one day. Well, it took almost five years, but this is the day.

"Lemon Cowgirl" disappeared for awhile, but its influence was deep. At last, I had seen Shelly through someone else's eyes, and that opened me up to more possibilities with the character. When I drew Shelly in 2007, and when Sara wanted to draw Shelly that same year, I pointed to "Lemon Cowgirl" as the starting point. Shelly has since grown as a character through the work done by Kabuki, Sara, and I, and this piece really doesn't quite fit that identity. BUT, that identity wouldn't be possible without "Lemon Cowgirl".

Besides, I can totally see this as a glamour painting hanging over Captain Satellite's mantle. Can't you?

2 comments:

Kabuki Katze said...

Ironically, I'm not cringing! This is one of the few old pieces of mine that I still really like. :)

I'm glad that it still holds a special spot in your heart. :D Who knew that my little pic would have such a big effect on Shelly?

C. Elam said...

Oh, that's good! I had visions of you crossing the Atlantic to chase me with an X-Acto knife. :)

It does! It was a pleasure to sit down and explain to people what it meant and how much I love it. And no, I had no idea my off-the-cuff choice of Shelly as subject matter would have such far-reaching effects!