Fuschia Chang was conceived as a private eye in a dystopian future (the same one I used for my first s.f. novel). I'd been reading Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics and a lot of lesbian comics (Alison Bechdel, Leanne Franson, Elizabeth Watasin, Diane DiMassa, Jennifer Camper, and more). Stir in some Tintin, Tank Girl, and plenty of Jaime Hernandez, and there you go.
At left is the first Fuschia drawing, or perhaps the second. Her outfit, strongly influenced by Tank Girl, follows the adventure comic conventions of offering minimal defense and maximum inscrutability, including the one glove.
Around 1995, I drew a 20-page adventure story starring Fuschia; you can click on the thumbnail over on the right to see the first page. Some parts of it turned out well, but I'm not that happy with either the art or the story. (One thing you'll notice is that I couldn't draw profiles. I still couldn't in Fuschia on Evil.)
The shorts I started making for the Web ended up being mostly about comics, which was a lot easier than making 2-page adventure stories. They've also gradually shifted into being set in the present.
Fuschia is a Chinese-American and a lesbian. Her Chinese name is 艶梅 Yànméi, which means 'pretty plum'; her parents chose 'Fuschia' as a rough equivalent. Her family name is the very common 張 Zhāng.
She lives in a cramped Chicago apartment with her girlfriend Mariana, a law student, who's not Chinese but Latin American; she appears in Fuschia's Day off and Fuschia on Comics Stores. (She had a big role in the adventure comic, too... it seems to me that few adventure stories recognize the importance of having a good lawyer on your team.)
In Fuschia Gets Tough you'll also meet Fuschia's sister Pamela, and her friend Jeanie, a grad student, who's also Chinese-American but is probably straight; Jeanie also appears in Fuschia on Fuschia.
Fuschia is one of those fortunate dykes who were never uncertain about their sexuality, and can't quite understand why other people make such a big deal of it. (This isn't so common in the Chinese-American community; but remember that Fuschia comes from the future.)
She hates all kinds of nonsense— ideology, sexism, stereotypes, rituals,
social climbing— and has a strong mischievous streak.
Her French is better than her Mandarin.
She knows her way around computers and firearms. She's a lousy cook.
The first Fuschias were drawn with a set of technical pens, which produce a lovely, solid black line, though without much character. I have a light table (an inclined panel with a transparent window and a light inside) which I used for tracing.
The first four on-line strips were drawn on paper, then scanned and adapted with a dizzying array of -ware, hard and soft. Since then I've drawn on-line, using a Wacom tablet. My eyes start to go fuzzy if I stare too closely at paper for too long a time; fortunately, this doesn't happen with the computer.
You can blame the horizontal arrangement of the later strips on Scott McCloud. The idea is that web comics shouldn't be designed as if they were going to be printed on standard comic book pages. Scott's latest book also inspired the crazily overproduced Fuschia's Day off— Scott challenges comics to ramp up the expressiveness and technical skill. I decided I didn't like the lack of backgrounds in Fuschia on Fuschia, but drawing everything is way tedious. The intention isn't to be photorealistic; but I wanted a style that raised the pictorial stakes, and could support more complex stories.