Friday, October 19, 2012

Character Development Special! Queen Gwenevere

We interrupt our irregular blog schedule to bring you... a Character Development Special! I plan on launching my webcomic "The Wayward Queen" next week, barring major catastrophes. As characters appear in the comic, I'll be posting an inside look on how they evolved.

Today: Queen Gwenevere! She's technically the title character, so she appears even before it begins. Her role: she's the Queen, of course! And knows it. She believes that she is the Queen of All She Surveys, therefore, if she visits you, she must be your Queen. Other people are inclined to disagree. The Queen has a tendency to wander inexplicably throughout "her" realm, despite the best efforts of willing subjects to keep her at home (and of unwilling subjects who would rather she didn't show up.) There are... complications... involved in her wanderings, but those are spoilers.

Personality: Vain, pompous, curious, whimsical, exasperating, and totally oblivious to the fact that she's exasperating. Fond of fine clothes, palaces, good food, dessert, and exploring "her" realm.

How did the Queen develop... Oh boy, where to even start. The Queen technically evolved from a type of recurring "pompous matron" character that goes way waaaay back to when I was just a little kid. I've always been fascinated by what I would call "haughty ladies", and would draw them frequently - fancy snooty ladies in ridiculous overdone dresses and tall wigs.

Probably the earliest pototype for Queen Gwenevere would be "Queen Elizabeth" (my version, not the ones in England...) Me and my sister used to play these incredibly elaborate games with characters we'd draw and cut out and mount on sticks - there was a cast of thousands, over time. From the very first, the games featured a pair of vain, obnoxious queens, fond of food and jewels and bossing people around. These queens persisted as main characters through the years, with occasional costume upgrades. I wish I had a scan of some of the finished costumes, but they're all at my parents' house. So here's one of the unfinished versions of "Queen Elizabeth", drawn when I was maybe 13, I think:
There were also many other "pompous matron" types in those games, duchesses and so forth - here's a few of them (drawn between the ages of maybe 12 - 14) And there were a lot more where these came from:
And I kept on doing "pompous matron" characters right through my teens - these were done when I was about 15 - yes, the big hat and feathers have already made an appearance!
Okay! So anyway, some time later, around sophomore year in college, I started making up a long, silly, rambling story to amuse myself. That story has a number of elements that eventually found their way into "The Wayward Queen". Among them, of course, an early version of Queen Gwenevere. Her personality was pretty close to the current version, but she looked like a grumpy overstuffed sofa. (Fun Fact: that little colored doodle was one of a bunch of tiny cut-outs I made of the cast as a way of keeping track of them all. I kept them all in an empty dental floss box.):
Later on, I graduated, got a job, got laid off, started freelancing, and many things happened. Sometime around 2004 - 2005, I started toying with the idea of starting a webcomic, just for larks. It began as an adaptation of the rambling story mentioned above, but soon evolved into something else completely. But the Queen remained. Here's some of the character development noodlings I went through while trying to figure out what the new Queen should look like:
And here's what I sketched up as a final "official" version around late 2005 - 2006. this served as a rough character sheet when I started drawing the actual comic. Of course she's evolved some more since then, as inevitably happens!

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