Character Inspirations: Eiko

This is going to sound funny, but back in the days when I thought I was a straight cis man, my inspiration for Eiko was… clothing.

(I know. It’s almost comical how closeted I was to myself.)

The inspiration was this item:

That is version 2 of the Banana Republic Photojournalist Vest, back before it became the annoying upscale version of the Gap and had interesting clothes and gear. You can find out all about this particular item’s history at its page on Secret Fanbase.

So when I was creating Eiji (as he was at the time), I knew three things about him:

  1. He was Japanese.
  2. He was a prankster type.
  3. He was the kind of gadgeteer who would be able to rebuild things on the fly for what he needed to do.

So he needed a lot of pockets to hold a lot of weird parts and gimmicks and stuff.  The other part of the idea was that he would also be able to grab trash electronics and make them do things in ways that the manufacturers never intended, especially with some of his custom parts added in. (This is how he turned, for example, a Barney doll and a megaphone in a dumpster outside a Radio Shack into a sonic cannon.)

This was the picture I had drawn of Eiji (as he was then):

Picture of Eiji Takashima, aka Gomi-no-Sensei.
One of my first attempts at coloring. I’ve gotten better.

See all the pockets?  yeah. He carries a lot of stuff in those pockets, so he has bits and pieces to build things or modify them on the fly. (For a while there was a joke that he had the superhuman ability to open up portals to a storage dimension with all the stuff he carried.)

And then after the transformation (which was well before mine) into Eiko, she looked like this:

Eiko glamour shot
Glamor shot for a magazine to promote her superhero team.

This is a modified version of the one she goes into the field with – for example, that one has sleeves with pockets on it, and she zips it up to her neck for missions, but you get the idea.

And it all came from a Banana Republic photographer’s vest that I bought for college in 1986, in an attempt to be more organized.  (It didn’t work, but I tried.)  It became one of my most beloved pieces of clothing, and I wore it until it wore out. It became almost synonymous with me in some places – people who knew me could identify me at conventions with it, for example – and it was a sad day when it had to go. I’d love to get another one someday, or one like it, but sizing is an issue. Banana Republic did a reissue of it a few years ago, but “reimagined for a digital age”, and in my opinion a worse color.

There’s also a bit of inspiration from a piece of clothing in the William Gibson  book Count Zero, worn by Bobby Newmark:

That sounds like a cool looking thing.  I mean, there’s also the Scott E-Vest (and just looking, they may have a vest that would work for what I want, 

Maybe someday I’ll be able to get The Vest again. Or maybe I’ll see about trying to make my own someday, instead, and make it do all the stuff I want. That may be the real goal: to make my own clothes.

But that’s an idea for another post.

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