A Violent Violet

How are you doing? Did you survive the shopping holidays?

I talk to folks from around the world on a daily basis, and it seems that my country is the only one that uses Black Friday as training for the (highly improbable) zombie apocalypse. Videos flood my Facebook timeline of shoppers in Canada, Japan, England and Ireland politely making their way through the store entrance, while in contrast, videos from America show grown adults beating each other half to death over pieces of plastic that will be on sale in January for a fraction of the current sale price. Guns blazing in the literal sense as some of these people show up to the toy aisle armed, I am used to seeing savage videos of people dismembering their fellow man over a toy or a DVD just hours after sharing a table with one another, and giving thanks for their current possessions on a national holiday meant to celebrate the unrelenting massacre of Native Americans.

Oh, and Pumpkin Pie spice.

Now as an artist, I watch videos of fights every day, so that I can improve the artwork for Ki-Chan: Demon Hunter. (See? I was going to work them in somewhere.) Most of my video intake is pro wrestling based, but I also watch videos of martial arts competitions. While the first book had a good number of fights, I doubled it for the second book, making room for more of the characters to utilize the best of their abilities.

One of the characters I've gotten some positive feedback on is Violet. While she didn't have too many lines in the first book, the second, I have given her a nice, robust platform. She's brash, outspoken, sarcastic, and yet quite frequently, the voice of reason. While I write her exactly as she appeared in my dreams between 1995 and 1999, I still needed a little help as an artist with bringing her to life.

When I draw, I sometimes use photos of actual people for reference. This is an old trick artists have used for centuries to bring a touch of realism to the human form. (Or in my case, Humanesque.) I used a few stock models for Book #2 for Mindy and Panti, but Violet's mannerisms are a little more famous.

It's no real secret that I had a little influence from the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. The Saban repackaging of Super Sentai Zyuranger balanced martial arts choreography with comedy and moral life lessons, and was a big influence on most of us growing up in the mid 1990's, so I bet you can tell a little of Violet's grace comes from late actress Thuy Trang who played Trini from 1993 to 1995. As a tribute to her, Violet is always drawn wearing a crop top, unless she's in her school uniform.

Violet's facial features are modeled after late actress Jeong/Jung Da-Bin. I first saw her in the 2003 dramady (Drama + Comedy) Attic Cat/Rooftop Room Cat as Jung-Eun. The way she expressed anger around dumb or rude characters was fantastic. I would sketch her each week, leading up to the finale, then on a separate piece of paper, work on Violet a little bit, until finally, I had the look I was trying to draw. I always draw my females with round or heart shaped lips, and Jung Da-Bin had the perfect pout for Violet.

Now my first models are Vietnamese and South Korean each, while Violet is half Japanese and half Chinese. I really hope I'm not out of line on this, as I feel royally offended knowing that a good chunk of America wrongfully lumps many Asian nations together as just "one race" when it's clear to see the facial difference and cultural differences from one country to the next. I didn't choose these models based on race at all, but instead on movement. Jung Da-Bin had a way where she could tell an entire story just in the expression on her face, while Thuy Trang demonstrated through her body language, not just in the fighting segments, but also in the regular moments around friends. I would have picked these two for the same reasons if they were White, Black, Indian or any other nationality.

As you can see with my third model....

Stone Cold Steve Austin!

Stone Cold embodied the tail end of the 1990's in more ways than one. As a wrestling fan though, I didn't only see him in the WWE. I watched him as a bubbly blonde on the independent scene, battling Chris Adams while trying to find himself. I watched him fight tooth and claw through the WCW, only for him to very suddenly be fired for no real reason. From there, I watched him snap in ECW, and by the time he debuted as The Ringmaster in the WWF, that spark in his eyes had been lit. As you can see in the photo on the left, Austin has a highly expressive face, where much like Jung Da-Bin, you can read the whole story of what he is thinking in just his eyes, especially when someone has said something amazingly stupid. His short fuse and desire to just whomp on people when they have exceeded his level for stupidity inspired Violet's mannerisms, especially around Kameko. In tribute to him, Violet wears a black vest and loves wrestling.

Violet is violent, brash, outspoken, sarcastic and swears like a sailor. Her best point is that she often says what the reader wishes they could say in real life. But like a good teacher, she's also very observant around Ki-Chan, and I'm glad I took a little extra time to expand on her a little with Book #2.

I don't yet have a time table for Book #3, but I do have a plan to go deeper on her relationship with Cecil and to go into her family a little bit. I dropped a little hint with the first book, but here I'll be showing a little more of her past.


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