About the Easy Breather

“The tobacco industry is a conspiracy against womanhood and manhood.”
— John Harvey Kellogg, cereal pioneer

“The existence of bad women is, and always has been, due to the existence of good women.”
— Menenius Agrippa, circa 494 B.C.

The Easy Breather is set in St. Justin, a fictional city in South Dakota, sometime in the 21st century. I am reluctant to specify a year, but the events of the first volume of this webcomic take place during a 14-day period in summer.

Since 1986, I have been developing and refining the concept of an anti-tobacco superheroine, for possible publication in a commercial medium. On 1986 February 01, I received a promotional document from the actress Nancy Cartwright — the kind with photographs normally reserved for casting directors in television and movies. From Cartwright’s résumé I discerned that all of her talents require healthy lungs, so I thought it only natural to develop a female crimefighter with super breath.

Originally I wanted the character to be the basis for an arcade video game: a reversal of the rescue genre, with a man in distress and woman as rescuer. The name “Easy Breather” seemed sensible to me, as the heroine would destroy robotic enemies with her super breath and collect green globes for additional oxygen. (Not being a sophisticated game programmer, I expected to create graphics on my Atari 130XE computer and seek someone else to write the actual game.) My original costume design was red and gray, for Cartwright’s home state of Ohio, but the limitations of late 1980s Atari graphics forced me to change the colors to the yellow and blue of South Dakota. Later the heroine’s costume became blue and white, and ultimately I settled on two-tone blue with a red no-smoking icon on the bust. Similarly, I at first wanted the heroine to be a stocky 5-footer, but as I kept drawing her on paper, she somehow became taller and more voluptuous. I sent my game idea to Nintendo, but it was rejected. I did not bother with Atari or Sega.

Regarding the name Samantha: I wanted to use a special Atari graphics mode that allowed four colors per ASCII character, so I felt the need to define a minimum of alphabetic characters in order to accommodate the figures 0 through 9 and special game graphics. Since I could have only one vowel, Samantha was the first feminine name that came to my mind. I had always thought that this name was derived from the Aramaic for “she who listens”, and that in this context it would offset the more obvious association with Elizabeth Montgomery. I had not yet heard of the very pretty brunette (born in 1971) from the BBC1 children’s drama Grange Hill. My heroine is also unrelated to the illustrator of The Very First Christmas, a 2010 recordable storybook published by Hallmark. You can read about the etymology of this name.

Shortly after I got my first degree from South Dakota State University, I gave the Easy Breather a pair of suitable foes: a bald sorceress who smokes cigarets, and a male criminal with pungent breath due to eating hot peppers. I entered two Easy Breather storyboards, one with each villain, in animation storyboard contests sponsored by Cartoon Network; neither of my entries won. I later made the Easy Breather the leader of an ethnically diverse team of 12 crimefighters (seven women and five men) and submitted my idea first to DC Comics and then to Marvel; both publishers rejected it, citing schedule constraints.

I have had the Easy Breather on no fewer than six Web hosts: South Dakota State University, GeoCities (before Yahoo! acquired it), WebRealm, ITC Telecom, Tripod and MidcoNet. Now that I have a Mac mini and the Poser 7 software, I have achieved my desired look for the Easy Breather and the characters with whom she interacts. At present I am using the anti-tobacco heroine as the basis for this webcomic, if not an animated action movie.

This site is © 2008-12 James H. Vipond (Send email).
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