JOSEPHINE BAKER

She maintained energetic performances and a celebrity status for 50 years until her death in 1975. Unfortunately, racism prevented her talents from being wholly accepted in the United States until 1973.! Josephine served France during World War II in several ways. She performed for the troops, and was an honorable correspondent for the French Resistance (undercover work included smuggling secret messages written on her music sheets) and a sublieutenant in the Women's Auxiliary Air Force. She was later awarded the Medal of the Resistance with Rosette and named a Chevalier of the Legion of Honor by the French government for hard work and dedication.” ! Resistance (undercover work included smuggling secret messages written on her music sheets) and a sub-lieutenant in the Women's Auxiliary Air Force. She was later awarded the Medal of the Resistance with Rosette and named a Chevalier of the Legion of Honor by the French government for hard work and dedication.” !

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To me a sleuth is an ambiguous mix a spy, detective and vigilante. When I first saw my words were Electrical Super-sleuth I immediately thought of Jessica Fletcher, played by Angela Lansbury in Murder She Wrote, but this kind of private investigator never really fitted with my concept. After thumb nailing I realised that my designs lent more towards Futurism and that the character behind the words would be at least part machine. When I typed famous spies into Google I came across quite a few spies from the Second World War, one of them being Josephine Baker. Not technically a spy, Josephine did pass information to the French Resistance and is an appealing character for me

because of her looks, ethnicity and espionage work but also because her story is personal and somewhat tragic. Below are some extracts taken from a website dedicated to Josephine Baker.!

http:// www.cmgww.com/ stars/baker/about/ biography.html

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“Josephine Baker sashayed onto a Paris stage during the 1920s with a comic, yet sensual appeal that took Europe by storm. Famous for barely-there dresses and no-holds-barred dance routines, her exotic beauty generated nicknames "Black Venus," "Black Pearl" and "Creole Goddess." Admirers bestowed a plethora of gifts, including diamonds and cars, and she received approximately 1,500 marriage proposals.

CHARACTER CONCEPT
After looking at Josephine Baker I then combined her features with other sources that I found interesting such as robotics and the moodiness of private investigators. Once I had drawn the face and body I then started to think about the personality and motivation behind them and asked questions like why is she a sleuth? and why is she partly machine? Finally I came up with the idea that some sort of accident or trauma happened to her resulting in her appearance and new found profession as a super-sleuth. When thinking more about the character and trying to come up with a name I thought maybe she had been burned and is the reason she has a masklike covering, this thought led me on to Joan of Arc as an inspiration. Realising that my concept was becoming a francophile character I thought of Emmanuelle Mimieux from Inglourious Basterds. This research led me to the conclusion that my character would be French, from the future and partially cybernetic/cyborg. This definition has also shaped my ‘Secret Lair’ as it seems fitting that the ‘Lair’ is in Paris. In terms of style I wanted to keep Josephine’s Baker 1920’s look but also add Punk and Futuristic influences.!

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(Images, starting top left to bottom:! Joan of Arc (John Everett Millais), my character drawings and images, photo by Aleksandr Pivovarov, photo by Steve Johnston, photo from Metropolis: Givenchy Spring 2012 Couture and a film still from Inglourious Basterds showing Emmanuelle Mimieux played by Mélanie Laurent)

FINAL CONCEPT