“An octopus’ muscular hydrostats allow for a level of graceful mobility unmatched by any other creature in the animal kingdom. They are proud to take any opportunity to show off this skill.” —Brian Kesinger
I decided to go with something fun and whimsical for Sartorially Smart Heroines‘ 50th writeup. The characters above are the lovely Victoria Prismall and Otto, her loyal octopus, stars of Brian’s amazing book, Walking Your Octopus: A Guidebook to the Domesticated Cephalopod. Throughout the book readers are treated to page after page of delightful illustrations featuring Otto and Victoria at home, at the vet, in public, or outdoors, typically demonstrating octopus care tips or enjoying leisure activities—all with a touch of Brian’s signature steampunk fun. One of my favorite aspects of the book has long been Victoria’s impeccable Victorian-Era fashion sense in her elegant dresses and awesome hats. (What can I say? I’ve long been a sucker for pretty girls in smart hats.)
The above image is from an upcoming sequel to Walking Your Octopus, this one a travelogue of Otto and Victoria’s journey around the world called Traveling With Your Octopus: Around the World With Eighty Tentacles. From Africa to Mexico to China to Holland to Japan, we see our heroine and her best friend participating in local culture while Victoria tries on the local attire with a slight steampunk twist. Here we see our dashing duo cowboyed-up in the American Wild West.
A lady of quality, Victoria of course rides side-saddle astride her loyal steed. As well as being stylish, her hat is super important for keeping our steampunk cowgirl’s pretty head well protected from the rain and wind and weather. The goggles and bandana are also handy should Otto get rambunctious and start stirring up too much dust.
I like the desert color scheme in Victoria’s riding dress and vest combo. Like most of Brian’s outfit designs, I find it an effective compromise between conservative Victorian women’s apparel and some of the more… flamboyant steampunk costume designs out there. Her boots look more Victorian or Edwardian than Western, but would still pass as riding boots. Meanwhile her right-hand glove protects her hands from rope burns or punching some cowboy who’s getting impertinent (assuming Otto doesn’t get him first.)
Interestingly, Victoria wears a pouch on each hip in lieu of a six-gun. These could contain anything from Otto treats to tea fixings to paperbacks. One of the things I love about all of Brian’s paintings is the stories he tells with a single image with no context. There’s a lot of fun and interesting guesswork that goes into analyzing his whimsical artwork. I mean, did Victoria just show up on this dude-ranch for roping lessons and brought her own steed? Or did Otto pick the destination, misunderstanding the saying “get along, little doggies?”
Deepest and sincerest thanks to Brian for letting me borrow his characters once again. Feel free to check out his Facebook, DeviantArt, and Tumblr galleries as well. (And sincere apologies to any MMO designers whose fans are suddenly going to want octopus mounts for their characters.) As always, thanks so much for reading, folks! Take care and stay awesome!
(What’re those two cowboys so puzzled about, anyway? You’d think they’d never seen a lady with green hair before…)