Time for another one of these posts, and this one is a doozy. Velma’s character has done a complete 180 while also not changing at all. But for that to be fully grasped, perhaps I should just show her to you. First of all, her name used to be Russell Bachmeier, and she looked like, well, this.
(Some very, very old art I did years ago. Don’t look directly at it.)
But actually, we need to go back even farther than this. Russell started out as a character named Joshua who was a journalist in a fictional, magical city covering a story on some happenings in their spirit world. He was a side character, but soon after I decided I didn’t like the world and the plot I had created, he had his named changed to Russell and was moved into the position of main character. Which he wasn’t happy about, but it worked quite well for what I was doing.
So, the plot changed. Instead of a fictional city, I stuck them in NYC. For a while there were angels and demons in the story until I decided that didn’t really work, so they all became normal humans, and the “fantastic” element of the story came from the fact that something quite shady was going on in a search for immortality. Russell stayed a journalist—a shy, quiet, overworked journalist who lived on coffee, never slept and was always slumped over his typewriter.
(As you can see, his hair got darker, but that’s about it. This is my the infinitely more talented jellyfishink.)
He had terrible luck. He was bad at most things, besides, writing, journalism and firing a gun. His best friend, who has gone through pretty much all of these changes with him, was a girl named Phoebe who had a thing for engineering and explosives. Her name later changed to Maxine, and later on, Nona, though so far as I’ve decided, she still goes by Max.
(More old art by jellyfishink~)
She’s another character I quite adore, so she can have her own post later. Anyway, I worked out the characters’ ages and set the story in the 1920s because it’s one of my favorite time periods to read and learn about, along with my complete adoration of the music and the fashion. But I got stuck on the story. I adored the characters and I loved my setting, but I couldn’t get a handle on the plot. Frustrated, I abandoned it and hoped I would either be able to fix it later, or that I’d be able to come up with something better. But I didn’t stop playing with the characters. In fact, I kept changing them.
You see, I was playing with Russell and quite a few other characters while going through the crisis I’ve talked about in a number of my other posts. Why were all my characters white? And, in the case of this story, it really was almost all of them. I can remember one of the more central characters, who I think was going by Madeline towards the end of things (before the whole mess that was me trying to remake this world—it did not end well) who was there to support the rest of the cast, and not much else. She pretty much functioned as a sacrificial lamb. Only towards the end of working on things was I telling myself I’d deal with the racism of the era head on and give her more agency, but by then I had lost the plot, and couldn’t do anything with it anymore.
So I looked at the characters, and I wondered. And I thought about how much more interesting it would be if Russell was a female journalist in the 1920s. So for a while, she was. And then I thought about how interesting it would be for Russell, now Velma, to be a black female journalist in the 1920s, writing for one of many black newspapers. Photos like these were pretty inspirational:
(I mean look at them oh my god. Found here, and there are more. <3)
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