Good Night, Sweet Princess
Yesterday, Carrier Fisher, most well known for portraying Princess Leia in the Star Wars films, passed away.
I’m not going to write some autobiographical book report here about her achievements, or little known facts about her life and career. That’s going to be done, better, by others. I’m not even going to write ad nauseum about her influence on pop culture, about her being an instantly recognizable figure.
Instead, I’m just putting this down as a means of being upset. Someone who gave substantially more to the world than they took from it is gone. Someone that I liked a lot, and had real respect and affection for.
2016 has taken a whole lot of talented people from us. There’s an infographic about it, in fact. It’s stinging, in the final days of the year, to suddenly get the news of the loss of one more person, and really, a person of deep meaning to me. Princess Leia was on my lunch box, she was in my beloved comic books, she was even in a Holiday Special that everyone tries to disown. Given the things I have around me, and the way that I live my life….there are probably fewer days that I haven’t seen her likeness looking back at me in some way, than days that I have.
That’s why I spent real time with the pencils above. Stayed up pretty late, in fact. In the bookstore a week ago, I saw that her journals from the filming of Star Wars were now in print as a book, and they seemed clever. I was going to pick it up the next time…but really, in those pages are going to be whatever final amusing words or wisdom I manage to get from Princess Leia herself. I wanted the art to reflect that feeling in some way…some last advice. I wanted to draw her as she appeared in the last film, Force Awakens, as a figure of wisdom and experience.
Honestly…we need Princess Leia now more than ever. She taught me, on the giant screen with her complex hairdos that you need to be active in government, outspoken, and stand up to corruption. She did it without superpowers, without Jedi magic, sometimes even without a laser. She was a character about free speech, activism, and intelligence, and wouldn’t have been any of those things without Carrie Fisher herself portraying the role.
So…that’s the tone I was looking for. We may need Princess Leia now more than ever…but she won’t be going on this mission with us. We kind of need that moment of reflection, in the coming years, where the best part of what we have been given comes forth, and we comport ourselves in a way that reflects that we took the damn hint. That the business of change, of activism…of being the best, flawed person that you can be…that business is ours now.
I used my new tablet to do a more retro colored, abstract pop art version of the art. I actually fussed with a few variations, trying to get everything Just Right, and Just So. In the end, I really felt that the raw pencils did that job, despite many versions that I created, which Is why I led with that one. I think it came across with a certain honesty of purpose, a tone and feeling, that was earnest in just being the product, the pencils. As direct and frank as Ms. Fisher herself.
Princess Leia Organa of Alderaan always knew exactly who she was. As we pay our respects to the woman who created her, we can’t allow ourselves to confuse the two women, one real and one not, but perhaps we can be excused for occasionally allowing that line to blur.
Because she was open about her troubles, we know that Carrie Fisher struggled for the rest of her life with mental health issues that would have floored most of us. She was Hollywood royalty, so she could have traded on her fame for the rest of her life. Instead, she acted and wrote and spoke out about important causes. She lived her life. She played the cards she was dealt.
In the end, isn’t that what Princess Leia did? When a fascist empire threatened, she fought back. When that Empire straight up destroyed her home, her family, her entire planet, she picked herself up and went on. She lived her life. She played the cards she was dealt. We could all learn a lot from Princess Leia and Carrie Fisher.
That’s pretty much all I’ve got today, True Believers.