From Below is written by Alec Robertson again and lettered by Dave Evans- 'The Letters Machine'! It started last issue of Dogbreath (#21) and continues in 22. It features 'Noseless' Laura Gonzalez as the main Stront- a character introduced in 'Shadow'. I like this character, for various reasons and I like drawing her too.
I recently noticed a comment in an old post on the Quaequam Blog, under an early preliminary drawing of the characters from 'Shadow', where someone says "Typical- the only female Stront is a glamorous norm". Now, this is daft. Laura has no nose! In 'normal' society she would be considered hideously disfigured. I'll talk a bit about the decisions made by Alec and I for the character.
We could have made her like Big Cynthia from 'The Schicklegruber Grab'- but it's too obvious and not particularly 'cliché- busting'.
My take on Big Cynthia is that she is a male character drawn as a female. No concession is made to her femininity whatsoever. Carlos could just as easily have drawn a bloke and she could have been named 'Big Cyril' or something. It makes no difference.
Durham Red is a character I'm not overly keen on myself, and Alec positively, irredeemably hates her as a concept! For me she's that gun-toting, sassy, hardcase femme fatale that has become so passe. Add the fact that her 'mutation', whilst possibly being interesting, flies in the face of most of the mutations in Strontium Dog over the years. Unlike, say... the X-men, most S/D mutants have debilitating or utterly useless mutations which turn them into sideshow freaks or 'monstrosities' in the eyes of normals. We didn't want to make Laura like Durham Red.
Whilst her mutation is certainly subtle, she could never stand with the cheerleader set- a small bony lump with two holes in her face for nostrils ensures that she could never be accepted as 'a hottie'! It's a pointless mutation that cannot be hidden from normal society and puts her very firmly in the 'sideshow freak' category. The biggest problem is that a convention with many artists in comics is to keep the nose as minimal as possible on a female seen face on. If you've ever tried to draw a stronger nose on a female character- you'll know why that is! So we went for 'in your face' profiles.
Anyhoo- Laura always seemed to be a rather sad and under confident type figure to me (possibly because I've seen some unfinished scripts for her that play on this) and I wanted the reader to feel sympathy for her- that she would be quite pretty, if only she had a nose! Almost as if this was what she was feeling too-"if only I had a nose!". As a result I felt that, rather than getting all pumped and manly, she would try to make the best of other assets- in the way that real people with buck teeth or a crooked nose often do. I certainly didn't want her to be all tits and erse, so I tried to give her more regular proportions. I had hoped to retain her femininity, but make her vulnerable to merciless piss-taking by 'norms'. She's also not sassy, gun-toting and uber-cool. I find her very human- polite, under confidant and she doesn't always do the right thing. I hope this will come across as the tale progresses.
Introspective shite over. I gave her a revamp for several reasons- I liked the way that in early Stront tales Johnny's costume changes continually and one way to achieve this was the occasional haircut. Again, a fairly realistic thing- especially, perhaps, for a woman who lacks a little self-esteem. There were a few bits and pieces about her costume I liked and a few I didn't- both for visuals and because they were a pain in the bollocks to draw continually! Here is a sketch I did whilst deciding on her new look, along with one of her new 'partner'- Wolfboy. Wolfboy is basically a kid who Laura has taken under her wing. He's a little young to be a bounty hunter and again I think this shows a softer, more vulnerable side to Laura- if a little foolish.