Monday, August 27, 2012

Spanner R4 Update: Where Did I Get Some Of These Characters?

While editing Chapter 8 for the Final Revision, I got to thinking about the origin of some of my characters. Some of them are riffs on characters of other stories. Some of these riffs date all the way back to 1992, when I created the original group around Shira.

Diana Shockley: I created her as early as 1991 because I hated Appleseed's Deunan Knute when she killed Chiffon in the first graphic novel. The concept: what if Deunan were a villain?

Henry Becket: Her father was the second villain I created. He's basically the original Battlestar Galactica's villain Baltar without the smirk and with a fedora and thick glasses and the invincible delusion that he's the last actual hero in existence. When borrowing public-domain superheroes, I made him the Bronze Age version of the American Crusader from the Nedor comics.

Richard Becket: His younger-looking older brother is basically the Corporate version of Eblis, the Satan figure from the same show. He also thinks he's the good guy; since he's the story's supreme elitist, that means the masses are by definition the villain. His superhero identity is the Bronze Age Scarab — and for him I borrowed the idea of superhero lineages from The Phantom. The original Scarab was a Frenchman in Napoleonic Egypt, and the lineage has occult origins. Dick Becket is the seventh Scarab (the Golden and Silver Age originals being the fifth and sixth), and he has to fight his own successors, the eighth and ninth Scarabs. The Scarab lineage is central to the mystery of Spanner.

Drusilla Becket is the answer to the question, what if Erica Kane from the soap opera All My Children were a guru like, say, J.Z. Knight (of Ramtha fame) or Elizabeth Clare Prophet? For one thing, like them and other gurus, she made an enemy of Shira's grandmother Eleanor Richter, the children's author and witch.

Will Becket: If Diana is Deunan Knute as a villain, her younger brother is Mobile Suit Gundam's Char Aznable as an extremely ambiguous antihero. There will be hints of another antihero inspired by Char, Lelouch Lamperouge of Code Geass, especially come Book 5.

Colonel Tom Becket: I didn't get a good grip on the Dictel Corporation chairman until I saw James Cameron's Avatar. Then I realized he's basically the villain, Colonel Quaritch, as the chairman of Blackwater.

I just noticed that these are all Beckets. One of the characteristics of the Cromwell Becket clan is their stubborn resistance to change. They are more archetype than character. They claim divine origin, descent from the Norse, Celtic, and Egyptian gods. More than the other dominant clans in the Conservative Revolutionary Party, they remind people of Unseely Fae with their inhuman morality and their lack of respect for human lives.

This in contrast to my more protean heroes, and especially heroines. Shira is a chameleon. Jennifer has a whole arsenal of personae she can summon at will. Surviving Leila or Melody, even when they're not at full power, may depend entirely on what mood they swing into. The only heroic character who is genuinely archetypal is Ariel, with the striking white stripe in her black hair and her Holy Grail obsession. She's the one who puts the heroines' doings into some mythical context and puts them on heroes' journeys. She traces her own ancestry (and therefore her niece Leila's) through the female line ("bar sinister" in heraldry) to Mélusine, Morgan le Fay, and ultimately to Mary Magdalene. And of course she's a mentor character like, say, Willa Richter-Thomas, Zac Finney, or (looking to Chapter 16 R4) Dr. Hiram Whistler. Shira herself has multiple origins.

I'm not actually cloning any characters. I'm too good a writer to let myself be that lazy. But some of my own characters were inspired by characters in other works. Of course, creating them is only the first step. After that, their job is to grow away from their origins so they can help the other characters take the story away from their author and run amok.

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