Zeborah, Lily’s corduroy-stuffed pygmy zebra jumps first and asks questions later. Although his spontaneity can lead to some sticky situations now and then, Zeborah’s mischievous and worry-free attitude helps his more careful friend Lily approach the unfamiliar with confidence. Sewn in the 1970s, and purchased by Lily at a London thrift store, Zeborah has a mysterious past. The origin of the ART for our little striped sidekick is easier to trace.
I’ve always been a fan of characters with sidekicks. From Corduroy the Bear and his Lisa, to Hobbes the Tiger, there is something reassuring about having someone you can depend on by your side, especially in the adventurous life of a Traveling Girl like Lily.
From the earliest sketches, Lily was pictured with some kind of animal sidekick. Initially, I was doodling this little rabbit that lived in a magic hat. We loved the idea of Lily being fascinated with magicians and showmanship in general. To personify it with her sidekick felt a little like a tangent, however, so I moved that interest to the background as part of her general enthusiasm and curiosity about mysterious awesome things. Lily still loves magic shows and card tricks.
Soon after that, there was a very brief period where we toyed with the idea of some adorable cats. A trio cats to be exact, a white one that was always nervous, a blue one that was a thrill seeker and a black one that was mysterious and slinky. As characters they just didn’t click for us and felt too “home-bound”. Lily is on the go all the time, she needed a friend that could keep up.
Then, just like that, Zeborah showed up.
I was drawing Lily munching on some Chinese dumplings, when a little zebra looked over her shoulder. It was love at first sight.
From there, it was just a question of refining his facial design, which over time moved from a sort of back of the neck mullet/mohawk to a pomade slicked hairdo as seen through the lens of a zebra stripe, framing oversized eyes in ruby red. As a character, Zeborah is a combination of an impetuous, impulsive kid and a wise friend comfortable in his own skin. Zeborah doesn’t stress too much about trying new things because with his long history he’s learned that the world is basically good and people are usually awesome. He’s a chow-hound and has a favorite snack in every corner of the globe.
Initially almost the exact same size as Lily, Zeborah’s scale has grown smaller and smaller, more consistently spritely and fleet footed over time. His outfit, however hasn’t changed. Zip up red mock turtleneck (zipper in the back, of course!), tailored sharkskin slacks with a crisp crease. Like something James Brown would have worn in 1964.