Sunday, September 2, 2012

Jenny At Least A Couple Places These Days

Batman and Superman belong to DC Comics. Spiderman and the X-Men belong to Marvel. If you were to want to do anything involving them or the vast majority of other superheroes you'd want anything to do with, you'd have to deal with that basic fact. There is, though, one superhero character that belongs to you. Like, you reading this right now. The same character also belongs to me. And anyone else.

'Did someone call for me?'

And there she is. Meet Jenny Everywhere, the world's first open-source superhero.

'Hi. Am I on some guy's blog?'

Yes, you're on some guy's blog.

'Okay, then; that's a new one. Usually I show up in webcomics. Well, blog guy, before you go any further, I need you to read this.'

...okay. "The character of Jenny Everywhere is available for use by anyone, with only one condition. This paragraph must be included in any publication involving Jenny Everywhere, in order that others may use this property as they wish. All rights reversed."

All rights reversed?

'Yeah, that means I'm not copyrighted. Back in 2001, a Canadian cartoonist named Steven Wintle was trying to find an open-source or public domain superhero. He didn't find one, so he decided to make one. He recruited people on the forum he was at, Barbelith, and they all hammered out a character, which wound up being me. Steven's present in the thread as 'moriarty'.'

What'd they end up doing?

'Well, first thing they did was give me this nickname, 'The Shifter'. There aren't too many people that really use it in practice, I notice, but there it is.'

Which came because...

'As part of the process of making me open-source, I needed to have a superpower that permitted me to be used in anyone's work in any capacity and in any universe. The way they did that was to have me be able to shift between realities, or alternatively, to already be existing in every reality. Either one is considered correct. Hence the nickname. That means anything I appear in is canon, no matter what work it is or who's writing it. This included.'

So if, say, Nintendo wanted to put you in a videogame, for instance...

'They could do so, provided they just put that paragraph in somewhere. And Microsoft and Sony could each independently make their own games with me in them at the same time, without consulting Nintendo or each other, and they could all be different representations of me, and release on the same day, and all three would be canon. I'm not holding my breath, though. Though I'd like that. The only thing they could not do is try to claim some sort of exclusivity on me.'

You were given a personality, though. Like a basic template so there wouldn't be you as a supermodel in one work and a lizard person in the next work and an anthropomorphic airplane in the next.

'Well, if they wanted to do that, they actually could. But yeah, there's a template. My basic description was written as follows: "She has short, dark hair. She usually wears aviation goggles on top of her head and a scarf around her neck. Otherwise, she dresses in comfortable clothes. She is average size and has a good body image. She has loads of confidence and charisma. She appears to be Asian or Native American. She has a ready smile." And people generally adhere to that.'

"Asian or Native American", huh?

'You're friends with an Asian from Sacramento, aren't you?'

That's not really the same thing. Besides, wasn't I 'blog guy' a little while ago?

'Yeah, funny that.'

So what did people end up doing with you then?

'Surprisingly, there was very little nudity. The most prominent thing anyone's had me do- at least, the most prominent thing that hasn't vanished off the Internet- was be a regular on Webcomic TV, though that petered out in 2010. There have been a lot of cameos where I didn't do much except just kinda... be there saying things, or tell people how open-source I am.

You mean like now?

'Hey, it keeps the lights on. After a quick spurt of interest out of the gate- I got mentioned in the New York Times and everything- things tailed off, though never really to the point where I've completely gone dormant. Even if it's just a cameo, it at least keeps me going. There's this one site, The Shifter Archive, that keeps track of where exactly I've been used. Again, it's mostly been webcomics, though there have been some written works.'

What is this it's saying about a 'Jenny Everywhere Day'?

'Once a year, people start drawing me in bulk; that was August 13th this year.'

Are there any recurring enemies you've got or is it just you kinda tooling around?

'Kinda. One guy, a Brit named Nelson Evergreen, came up with the idea for a villain named Jenny Nowhere, and that was basically the entirety of her template. I'd rib the guy, but he did play a big part in getting me off the ground, so I'm lucky to even have a villain at all. Other than that, my storylines most often seem to either have me sitting around in coffee shops, shooting dinosaurs with a raygun, or just dropping in and saying hi.'

Anything else you want to bring up, while I've got you?

'Anyone wants to give me work, that'd be cool. I know Doctor Who has pretty steady employment.'

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