(Posting this again …but for the first time… because I mistakenly posted the original on my old WordPress site. Oops.)
A little over a year ago I was asked about “my women”… all the women who appear in my illustrations. There are a lot of them, I suppose (in my illustrations that actually feature any beings at all), and the woman who asked me about them wanted to know what was up with that…with an implied nudge-wink.
In her mind there was something vaguely pervy or something implicative (yet conveniently, oh-so-suggestively, undefined) about portraying so many women in my art. This person was choosing to look for some hidden lowest common denominator of motivation in my work, while completely missing the point behind each of these characters.
With one exception, the women I portray are strong, self-reliant, intelligent, fierce, independent, adventuresome; and they may have an undercurrent of vulnerability. They are pilots, soldiers, survivors, adventurers, mystics.
Every strong, intelligent, independent woman I’ve ever portrayed in my art or writing can trace their inspiration and lineage back to Princess Leia in some way. And no one else could have been Leia but Carrie Fisher. (Trust me, I’ve seen the audition tapes.) So in some sense, all these women are her fault (said with affection).
I know Carrie Fisher was far more than “just” Princess (General) Leia Organa. Actor, writer, comedian, unofficial mental health spokesperson…more.
Over the past number of years I came to appreciate Carrie Fisher as a person. I appreciated her candour about being a survivor of addiction and mental illness, and how she spoke openly about these things, and so honestly. I loved that she seemed to be a person trying to live her best life: having fun, being irreverent and outspoken, bantering with William Shatner on Twitter, posting silly pictures of her dog, Gary. Being uniquely Carrie Fisher. Strong, self-reliant, intelligent, fierce, independent, adventuresome; with an undercurrent of vulnerability.
2016 has been a sad year. Lots of celebrities we loved, grew up with, who shaped our worlds in some way, left us. (I was going to list some names, but there’ve been so many I don’t even know where to start.)
I am going to miss Carrie Fisher. I never met her, I didn’t personally know her. But I’m not overstating things when I say that her mark on my life is indelible. I identified with some of her struggles. She influenced the way I think about women, and she influenced how I portray them.
And, after all, for me, above all… She was Princess Leia.