I’ve been meaning to do a series of posts about my heroes, those writers, artists, singers, and others who have been a great influence on me and my stories over the years. So, here I go. I’ll post these now and then, when I have the energy and time to do so. I was meaning to start with Sarah Johnson, who passed away Oct 25, 2008, and I originally intended to have a post up on the anniversary, but due to health, I didn’t manage it.
I knew her best as Sirah. We met online as young teenagers, back in the days before Facebook and other “social media” that now encourage you to be bluntly honest about your name and identity and all the intimate details of your life. In those days, nearly everyone had pen-names or personae, and no one thought anything of it. You went where your interests took you, you shared only what you wanted to share, and then only in the most private of circumstances–e-mail, friends-only LJ entries, private IM. It didn’t stop the hackers or the stalkers, but that was the Internet culture. (No one really calls it ‘cyberspace’ anymore.)
I won’t go into every detail, but we found ourselves writing shared stories together on an almost daily basis–and then chatting for hours on IM when not doing so.
I first knew her for her art. When I was eleven I started getting involved in critter adoptions–young artists would draw various life stages of mythical creatures and “adopt” them out. We would post them on our websites (yes, I taught myself html at eleven) and would post them in message boards such as the Orchard (though back then it was on Boardhost, not Proboards) for role-play.
But when the first X-men movie came out, she became one of my best friends when I switched most of my attention to text-only role-play set in the Marvel universe…which pretty much meant “mutants exist and everything goes”. I especially liked the “everything goes” part, and so did she, it seems, because two of my absolute favorite characters she created were Joey, a silver-haired, skate-boarding, teenage angel with a lattice-work of scars on his face from shattered glass in his accident, and Sky, a blue, bird-like shape-shifting angel. I especially loved how Joey had to “recharge” in sunlight. He would go incoherent and drained if he were kept from the sun. Sky was always up to some sort of mischief or another, joking around and keeping an eye on things.
Sarah also had a family of green-furred, striped cat-people mutants: Vision, Mirage, Kat (sisters), and Oblivion their brother who also was an antagonist now and then. Paradox was a big flying, furry demon who…somehow adopted himself into their family. And then there was Centauri, the centaur-mutant who now and then had an evil double that would go around… It was all a blast.
The most recent character she made was Mae. A prohibtion-era’d, globe-trotting vampire who is handy with a rifle and combines flapper-fashion, girlish laughter and dainty finger-waves with sharp-shooting.
Sarah’s sense of humor and humor-writing was amazing. I would constantly be begging her to write a novel, which she never did, but she was always supportive and helpful with my own writing on the side.
For an example of her humor! Sarah did several comics. One was for her fencing place about fencing dinosaurs, which though I’ve seen, I don’t have links to. But here is a series she did with her characters based on some fun fluff we did on the sidelines:
Catnip Chaos: Page 1, Page 2, Page 3 introduces more characters, including Danae her mutant with “possessed” hair, or rather hair that has a literal mind of its own. The other characters shown belong to others. There is more, but that’s all I’ll link to.
It’s a shame she never uploaded any of her most recent art. When I flew out with M Williams to try to see her before she died, her family showed us everything she’d been working on–and I was stunned. She made vast improvement, though her art has never been bad.
Frankly, Sarah is one of my best friends, my greatest heroes and influences. Through this past year of medical problems, I remember how well she handled her own medical problems and I take courage from her example. She always had humorous stories to tell me, like how they had her eat radioactive cookies or how she played tricks or joked with her nurses.
Sarah – her writing, her art, her humor, her characters, her stories- live on inside me. I hope one day to be able to share with others everything she shared with me. For that purpose, M Williams and I are creating an SF world we’ve named Forsyr (For Sirah), using her angels and her cat-mutants and other characters as inspiration.
So. Thanks, Sirah, for everything.
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