Evolution of an Idea
My conception of an anthro-felinoid went through several stages. At the outset, they were 99% human, with pointy cat-like ears and tails, but still obviously homo sapiens (left: above & below). Unlike the Jellicai, these early types were somewhat taller than the human average and tended to be rather heavily muscled. All-in-all, they were a direct extension of my last forays into drawing superheroic types (below right).
The four-breasted, digitigrade body-form which has become one of the most distinctive features of Jellicai anatomy was a change that was actually made quite grudgingly. Diminutive size and proportions were already becoming part of the concept -- at that point, I envisioned them as standing about one and a half meters tall -- and although the species remained a heterosexual one, the notions that the genders were superficially almost identical -- and rather androgynous (the feminine attributes were then still minimal) -- was concrete. For the most part though, despite a more feline face, they were still physically and essentially humanoid (much of this general design ultimately re-emerged as the basis for the "Aul'Dbaarii" of the Animis project, although without the androgyny). The translation into their current form would begin deep within my subconscious.
My brooding over the violent death of my cat had an odd, sublime anthropomorphizing effect on my image of him and an equally sublime felinization of my own self-image. The end of my angst -- and the birth of the new concept -- was heralded by the juxtiposition of a dream. Appearing in the trans-gender symbology of the subconsciousness, I saw myself -- in a completely unrelated story-context -- as a small, sad, rather feminine, feline form. The image stuck in my mind the next morning, both for it's visual impact (the concept had never occurred to me before), as well as for the deeper insight it had revealed, and I rapidly made a sketch (right). Even though I still clung to the previous conception, the idea I had been developing took on a name that came from that same dream: Jellicai. The acceptance of the image as the right one was a result of it's persistence, my continued psychological recovery, and the final realization that it captured the essence of felinity I had failed to grasp before.
Converting the newly-dubbed Jellicai into true hermaphrodites marked another abrupt turn in the project. Up to this point, it has been strictly an artistic pursuit. My attempts to conceptually justify making the genders so physically similar had led me to speculation about the role of gender in the reproductive process beyond merely biological. Despite my best efforts, I was unable to reconcile the relative uninvolvement of the male and the imbalance this created in the nurturing bond that followed birth. I made the fateful decision to do some formal research on the subject. I had just committed myself to seeing the concept through to whatever end it may have: it had become an intellectual endeavor...and I so enjoy that kind of challenge.
The research revealed that the only total solution to the inequities was to simply avoid the problem of gender altogether (not realizing at the time what effort was entailed in development of a plausible hermaphroditic species), and I made the change without hesitation. Doing so granted a new vitality to the project, but my first simplified explanations proved unsatisfactory. To make the concept work, and work believably, I realized I had to do more than just say it was so and leave it at that. That meant anatomical research and my project rose to a new level. I began to apply a far more scientific approach to the body design as a whole, my perfectionist tendencies as an artist driving me to develop even the finest details.
My creation had developed a tangible existence all its own. Very quickly, the structural design work lead to psychological and sociological conceptions as the personality of Jellicai blossomed, and ultimately the project came full circle. I understood the form, the figure, the mind and the soul of my creation, how they moved and thought and lived, and I began to conceive and create purely artistic interpretations to capture that sense of reality (an essential element distinguishing the most recent from the earliest, truly "Jellicai" images). And that is where the project presently stands, with this presentation, "Kitame's Jellicai Pages," being the most recent expression of the idea.
The Jellicai concept, my passionately ambitious project, will probably never be "complete" in any final sense. I realized that some time ago...but such is the nature of developing one's character.
Now, don't keep Kitame waiting...