Monday, November 29, 2010

My World : Doppelgirl


Doppelgirl is the codename used by Judy Gourrier, a C.H.I.E.F. agent gone rogue. Or is she really a deep cover agent infiltrating the underworld through deception? If the latter is true, C.H.I.E.F. director Rex Coronado isn't talking.

Doppelgirl is an unparalleled disguise expert. She boasts that she can impersonate anyone, male or female, regardless of age. She is fluent in an array of languages, and an uncanny mimic. Though not a trained or disciplined fighter, she is lithe and athletic, and more than capable of giving an opponent a run for their money.

Doppelgirl first surfaced as part of the super-villain community under the alias of "Spookette". Working as an underling for the Phantom Rogue, she was captured by Firegirl during an ill-fated robbery . Turned over to the authorities, "Spookette" disappeared from her holding cell overnight. No explanation has ever been offered.

After that first encounter, Doppelgirl turned up using her familiar identity and outfit. More recently, she has been reported as calling herself "Madame Troika" and claiming allegiance to Third World. Is she truly affiliated with Third World? Or is this merely another ruse by a woman who has mastered the art?


Doppelgirl almost didn't make the cut. In spite of a dearth of female characters in the Captain Satellite milieu, she almost went into the reject pile. You can credit her salvation to the fact that I changed her uniform's colors and developed a better backstory for her. Oh, and it didn't hurt that she sort of already was in my continuity in the first place.

To backtrack, when I wrote "Firegirl's Internet Diary" in July, I included a character named "Spookette" as a tongue-in-cheek nod to my frequent collaborator Kabuki Katze. Back when I originally posted the Phantom Rogue on deviantArt in 2007, she had this to say:
"Hmm, I'm afraid I'm in love with him. He doesn't need a busty redhaired minion, does he?"
Kabuki forgot that comment after a couple of days. I didn't. So it was with a fiendish sense of delight that I did give the Phantom Rogue a "busty redhaired minion". That was Spookette.

I considered doing a picture featuring Spookette as she was described in the story, but somehow, I had a lot of trouble getting inspired to draw a derivative character. Spookette needed something to jazz her up a little. That was when I hit upon the idea of making Spookette one of a series of identities assumed by a character who could stand on her own.

If you are a scholar of comic book trivia, you might know about a character named Duela Dent. She is one of those fringe DC Comics folks who turn up when you least expect it. I sort of enjoyed her early appearances in Batman Family as "the Joker's Daughter" and other spurious offspring of Batman villains. In spite of her tangled history, the core concept of a character who impersonates OTHER characters resonated with me.

I spent so much time coming up with the name "Doppelgirl" (obviously derived from doppelgänger) that it was kind of embarrassing that I had so little to go with it afterward. I attributed Spookette to Doppelgirl, and also an equally derivative Madame Hydra-wannabe I'd considered dubbed "Madame Troika". There were a couple of other aspects thrown into the mix, too. The problem was, Doppelgirl had no real hook beyond assuming fake identities.

There was also the lesser problem of her uniform. I tried a couple of different things with it, including giving her slippers instead of boots. You can blame animator Darrell McNeil for planting that particular idea in my brain through an article in Alter Ego magazine. I also wanted to use pink, since it's a "girl" color that I've largely avoided. Well, that was all well and good, but soft colors combined with the design I'd committed myself to left me with an outfit seemingly more suitable for jogging than anything else. Not quite what I had in mind.

I remedied that problem eventually by changing the primary color to black, but a lighter shade than I've used in the past. The idea here is that Doppelgirl wears this tight spandex ensemble because it is easier to keep it on beneath whatever disguise she might be using. The shorter sleeves and pants enable her to conceal it better. I was also pretty happy with the more delicate line I used on this piece, and I'm glad I get the chance to showcase it properly.

That wouldn't have happened if I hadn't come up with some story possibilities for Doppelgirl that I actually liked. Ironically, that all started with the musical in-joke that led to her alter ego. And that only came about because I was trying to come up with a title for the earlier version, since I didn't want to commit the Doppelgirl name to a reject! It all worked out though, and I found my way with Doppelgirl at last by making her a rogue government agent. Or is she really a good guy after all? The ambiguity is what makes it interesting to me. It's not perfect, but it's a start.

Dedicated to Kabuki Katze, who inadvertently got the ball rolling and served as inspiration for Spookette!

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