Long ago by science-fiction and fantasy standards, I was good friends with author Shariann Lewitt. She lived in Washington, DC and when I went down there from Boston to visit my friends, we would always catch up and then sit for hours creating and comparing fantasy scenarios and world-building. In those days (mid-80s) Shariann was publishing a lot of adventure and intrigue-filled short novels, often starring daring pilots, warriors, spies, and technologists. I was also publishing book covers, but not as many titles as Shariann. It was so much fun to sit up late into the night making up plots and scenarios. I ended up making lots of concept sketches, many of which I gave to her for inspiration. Through the 80s and into the 90s she published tales set among fighter pilots, professional athletes in futuristic sports, modern Roma (gypsies) living in space colonies, and the characters in this piece above.
The seven characters here (plus the girl in the portrait picture) are a squad of space warriors in a future in which Earth has been obliterated by galactic warfare. They are known as the "White Wing." Other "Wings" had already taken their identifying color, and only "White" was left. They are not all fighter pilots, but include an intelligence expert, an engineer, and other support roles. The red-haired girl in the picture was one of their group who lost her life in battle. The interesting thing about this group, which is only revealed later in the book, is that they are a "group family" or polyamorous multi-spouse collective. They are all married to each other - which no doubt leads to complicated situations not covered in the book. "White Wing" was a collaboration between Shariann Lewitt and fantasy writer Susan Shwartz, published under a pseudonym.
Shariann went through many re-inventions of her personal style. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, she adopted a glamorous space-Goth look complete with black garb and tattoos. She made quite a stir at science fiction conventions. I admit that I was jealous of her for her daring fashion choices and eye-catching outfits - even though they were things which I would never ever wear or do. During that time our friendship ended, as our choices of looks and career diverged. A few years later Shariann moved to the Boston area where she still resides, teaching creative writing to students at M.I.T.
"White Wing" character concept art is ink and watercolor on illustration board, 8" x 10",
August 1985. Diligently restored in Photoshop. Click on the image for larger view.