For February 2009


February 20th 2009


Unrecognized Influences

Street Fighter 4 was just released, and it is a wonderful reimagining of the quintessential, even protean, fighting game. I could go on about how superb it is - and it is, truly the very primal essence of Street Fighter 2 brought alive anew with great beauty and flow - but the important point is that in playing this game I discovered what surely must have been a powerful unconscious influence in my art.

I think that my character of Texto Porfiria - in alternate universe form To Save Her's Virtue Kazemahou - was unconsciously inspired by the character of 'Vega' in Street Fighter. At the very least, I think it is a reasonable possibility.

It is very weird to discover this; where ideas come from is almost never known - it is a rare thing when an artist can say that this creation was inspired by that specific thing. Ideas just come... the machinery of the mind synthesizes in occulted silence.

Vega and Texto are both very tall, both have long hair. Both are very bishy. Both are dangerous people. Both Vega and the original Texto of Unicorn Jelly wear abstract masks; Vega to protect his great beauty, and Texto to hide his great deformity from original beauty. Both are fairly sociopathic. Both are arguably gay. Both are pale with light colored hair. There are a lot of apparent similarities.

I can't say that Vega was a particular favorite character for me - I prefer Cammy, Chun Li and Rose as my selections in the game - but I did note him for having interesting aerial attacks. He stood out because apparently gay characters are rare, so I applauded that aspect, even if the character is a villain. Beyond that... not really that interesting to me.

Yet here, playing Street Fighter 4, I was immediately struck by the similarities described above and could not but wonder if, unconsciously, this character I had not taken any notice of for at least a decade or more may have been the seed for one of my own characters. I know easily, for example, that my 'Thilia Lilinffylst' from Unicorn Jelly derives directly from my own beloved Sandi. But for many of the other characters I have created, I have no known source; they just came into my mind.

I cannot be sure that Street Fighter's Vega is the source of my Texto Porfiria of course, neither character is the first, or will be the last, of the tall, long haired, pale, scary bishonen manga characters of the world; it is an old, and fairly worn sterotype. I might as easily have taken my notion from a dozen anime series, or even more manga I have read. The mask, though, is interesting. That is unusual, and perhaps links the two. Perhaps.

I have always reasoned that all creativity is synthesis. The mind takes in information, scrambles and mixes it according to various neurological means, and what comes out is the synthesis that results. If that synthesis is not easily deconstructed into the components from which it was built, then we shout 'Creative!' and marvel at what we like to imagine is something utterly new. Nothing is new; what the human mind can encompass is a surprisingly limited set and has been long ago mined out. Whatever we create always comes from the ashes of ancient effort. There is no shame in how creativity works; it is what it is... really, it is all there is.

But it is interesting, I think, when we get a glimpse of how the process functions, a glimpse, possibly, of the machinery in action, or a suggestion of how the machinery does what it does.





By Jennifer Diane Reitz

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