Cardinal Orange, occasionally still known by its original title Phillipe, is an ongoing novel-project created and written by Christopher Veidt a.k.a. Royal-Sovereign), with illustrations by Tiggstar and others. The novel centers around the episodic goings-on in the life of Christophe-Phillipe de Rohan, a gay teenage kitsune at an affluent high school in the autumn of 2006.
The building drama of Phillipe and his friends are narrated in "episodes." The book attempts to paint a truer, often unflattering picture of the high school experience in an upper-middle class community ambiguously set somewhere in Virginia, and are often idealised or partially fictionalised accounts of Veidt's own life experience.
Although the art style of the novel, whether drawn by Tiggstar or anyone else, is usually cheerful, the novel's themes cover such dark topics as overwork, drug addiction, child abuse, and mental instability, all among high school-age teenagers.
The high school in which the action takes place, called "Cypress Valley", was inspired Viedt's own high school -- a rich, largely "Preppy" student body which was sub-divided into clearly demarcated cliques and groups.
The school's atmosphere and social life are drawn from both Veidt's observations of teenage behaviour, but also heavily and descriptions of court life at Versailles by 20th Century author Nancy Mitford during the lifetime of Louis XIV, of which Veidt took a keen interest -- using the latter to better illustrate just how cliquish a high school can be.
Originally a one-shot about a human boy having a bad day at school written in February of 1999, Phillipe (as it was then known) was resurrected in a furry setting on 19th January 2006, with a proper release on DeviantArt (since removed) on 10th February of that year. This storyline was abandoned until June-July of that year, when Veidt undertook a project under the Phillipe aegis called The Lost Episodes, which eventually became the novel in its final form. A desktop screencap from 30th-31st July, 2006, was the first public notice that new work was being done -- what would eventually become the second episode of the novel They've Got A Word For It In French.
From August to mid-October, work on Phillipe was near-continuous, and the first episode (which was taken down and replaced by a "Director's Cut", itself now obsolete) was posted to DeviantArt on 25th August 2006. The third episode followed on 8th September, the fourth and fifth on 27th September. (The missing second episode was never finished; it was later incorporated as the third episode in Cardinal Orange.)
The transition from Phillipe to Cardinal Orange was made official for the release on Lulu, and is a complicated pun: Phillipe's ancestors include the infamous Cardinal de Rohan, and his fur is an orange-gold. The title was ultimately chosen, however, for its similarities to enigmatic, non sequitur manga titles, such as Bleach.
After several difficulties with editing and trimming the text, Veidt finally released on Lulu the first truly completed episode (which subsequently became the second chronological episode), entitled You Can't Win If You Don't Eat Your Breakfast. The release was short-lived, as Veidt took it down from public view to revise it. This laborious process was not officially completed until Bastille Day, 2009, when it was put back for public perusal and purchase , only to be removed again shortly thereafter, pending a much more detailed edit and more included content.
After nearly three years of false starts and dormancy, a completed preface (This book is a lie...), the first and second episodes, a character fact sheet and an appendix explaining the universe of the novel was finally codified and completed in mid-October, 2012. At just over 120 pages, it was intended to be submitted to a publisher as "Book One" (the subsequent "books" to be comprised of as-yet uncompleted third, fourth, and fifth episodes). However, the book was rejected by Rabbit Valley as it had been previously submitted to DeviantArt and (although subsequently removed) Fur Affinity and SoFurry (at the time still YiffStar); the explanation was that the exposure elsewhere would "affect marketability."
As a result, although something resembling an actual book has been completed, the novel awaits hardcopy publication, and is currently on hold, pending the completion of the three other fragmentary episodes and the fusion of all nine components into an actual publishable work.
Influences and inspiration
While a great deal of Phillipe was written, as has been mentioned, as a partly fictionalised or idealised account of Veidt's own experiences from high school, the novel draws most extensively from manga that was popular at the time of the novel's inception (the year 2006), specifically Eyeshield 21, Off*Beat and the anime FLCL, very particularly the third episode. The character, Jack Turing, a hyena, has some of his inner character and physical appearance (in particular the detail of the reflectively shiny glasses ) based almost entirely on Gendo Ikari from the anime Neon Genesis Evangelion, but was later given a personality (and a more plausible explanation for his shiny glasses) derived from Dale Gribble from King of the Hill.
Despite the evolution of how Cardinal Orange was written, and the resulting changes in style and substance of the work, Veidt has intended to stay true to the original spirit of the works that influenced it.
Use of sexuality
Much of the content of Cardinal Orange was written as a reaction against what Veidt saw as the staggering pervasiveness of sex and sexuality in both the furry community and popular furry creative works. This was not done as a matter of principle or prudishness, but rather to better separate the novel from the accepted furry mainstream and to against what Veidt regarded as the typical "grain" of furry fiction.
Making sexuality internalised and not openly expressed deliberately puts the novel at odds with many other popular furry works (namely, as Veidt saw it, Blotch's Dog's Days of Summer, which he once sarcastically contrasted with another "graphic novel", Watchmen) wherein sex is spoken of and depicted with breezy abandon. In fact, within the context of the novel, sexuality itself is a source of paranoia and shame -- the stigma of being homosexual in a wealthy, milquetoast high school.
This line of thinking Veidt adopted, however, was not his original plan: the fourth episode written in 2006 largely consisted of a very long romantic sex scene. In contrast, when another sex scene was written in 2008, using a totally different situation and written from the new perspective Veidt had decided upon (mentioned above), more emphasis was put on pornographic imagery and sexually-charged stream of consciousness: the actual "sex scene" ends with no actual sexual act performed.
Reviews when the first two chapters appeared in finalised and "work-in-progress" form were generally positive, although some concerns were expressed the text was too dense and the vocabulary utilised too difficult to understand, especially in the context of the plot and setting. Similarly, reviews for older versions of chapters some months before, tended to be positive with varying degrees of enthusiasm.
An early picture of the main character, Phillipe, by RedWinterwolf, just before the adoption of the present storyline, circa May 2006.
"Phillipe In Class", a commissioned picture of Phillipe by Jijix, April 2009, which Veidt expressed great disapproval with and for a time suppressed from the canon of Cardinal Orange artwork.
The first non-Phillipe related character picture, of Edward Blackwood, circa Fall 2006. Done by Werewolf1234, the original sketch was accidentally destroyed by the artist's dog.