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(Jon sez:)

Your Writer: Jon Kilgannon This scene is based on a real event in our lives.* You see, Mark was trying to escape in a hydrofoil and I was forced to fire a railgun at him. Now, in real life I look nothing like Benjamin (although I do own a trenchcoat) and Mark looks nothing like Delger (although he does own a hydrofoil). So some changes to the event were required in order to make it fit the comic medium.

This is a silly but effective way to segue into today's column topic, the technique of basing fictional characters on real people in the author's life. Although this is a popular method of creating characters, I don't do it. I feel it lends itself to abuse (look at any novel by Jerry Pournelle and count the characters based on his friends) and it creates characters who are oddly one-dimensional. You're less likely to harm a character if she's based on your wife, even if that harm is called for in the plot, and you're less likely to design a character who is fascinating and engaging if he's based on a consultant or a video game programmer.

I'm not saying that characters based on real people can't ever work. There are webcomic creators, like Greg Dean, who have created funny and engaging fictional characters using their friends as templates. However, I believe this wouldn't work in a comic like A Miracle of Science. No matter how hard an author tries, a psychologist who belongs to a planetary group mind can't be based on the author's wife or coworker or best friend.

And I'm pretty sure that's more than you ever wanted to know about my philosophy of character design as it relates to webcomics.

* This is an utter lie.
(Mark sez:)

Your Artist: Mark Sachs Damn straight I look nothing like Delger. Uh, just wanted to clear that up, ladies.

Note the triumphant reappearance of crates in the first panel. Crates: when you're in a hurry and need to throw something into the background, nothing else will do! Crates carry our stuff and support the war effort! Buy crates where you work or bank! Enjoy crates at breakfast, lunch, or dinner! Worship crates at the church of your choice!

Crates. Think about it, won't you? Thank you.