Friday, September 18, 2009

Dana Barnes

It's official. Suzanne and I are headed to the Baltimore Con again next month to represent the Mike Wieringo Scholarship Fund. We'll again be setting up a table and selling Mike's original art to raise money for the 'Ringo fund and we'll be sporting our spiffy new booth sign, donated by my employer, The Martin Agency. Thanks to Marc Nathan (and his wonderful crew, including Brad Tree) for including us and generously making it possible for us to be there. We hope to see you there.


Okay, as I've been putting the pedal to the metal on the 'Haps pages, I've been getting excited about the prospect of returning to my pet project horror story. The other day, I found myself with a few free minutes after work waiting for Suzanne and knocked out the above character sketch for Dana Barnes. (That name is tentative, btw.) Of all the characters in the story, Dana has given me the hardest time visually. I posted a drawing a while back that was basically a portrait of the actress Lacey Chabert. But it wasn't really the look I wanted. I couldn't put my finger on it but it was too...glamorous? Unlike the rest of the characters, I didn't really have a picture of her in my head. Which is weird because Dana's the only character based on a real person. Well, several, actually.

I hesitate to call Dana Johnny's "love interest" because I feel like that's a mischaracterization of her importance to the story, though she definitely holds Johnny's "interest". She's one of my favorite characters in the story because I think her history is so interesting and because her personality is so fully formed in my mind. She feels alive to me.

Dana's family moved away from Johnny's hometown a year ago and now, as the story begins, she's back under mysterious circumstances. Johnny had been infatuated by her and was brokenhearted when she left. As he's introverted and socially awkward, he had been spared the potential embarrassment of telling her how he felt. Now that she's returned, he's forced into a situation where he has to confront his feelings again. And she doesn't make it easy on him.

As I said, Dana is at least partially based on real people. One of those folks was a girl I knew in high school who was a year ahead of me. I was completely infatuated with her. She was my version of Charlie Brown's "Little Redheaded Girl." Except she was a brunette. She was kind of tomboyish in that she always wore plaid shirts, untucked, with jeans and just enough makeup to get by. She seemed to me to be completely self-possessed but not in any "I'll show you" way. Just calmly confident. And she could not be any less interested in the conventions of high school life if she tried. She wasn't a cheerleader, wasn't a member of any clique and was completely disinterested in whether or not you were wearing a football jersey. (I know 'cause I tried that one.) She was flirty but not so much that you thought she was coming on to you. All this and yet she exuded a profound femininity that I found intoxicating. I was afraid to tell my friends how much I was taken with her because that's just not something you do. I was sure they would relentlessly dog me and that word would get around. Eventually, though, I had to say something and they all just looked at me and went, "duh." They all felt the same way, you see. (Gordon, Brian, Mark and Rich, if you're reading this, pipe down! LOL.) I had to laugh. But, you know, make sure they knew that, um..."hands off." She graduated my Junior year and, like Dana, poof...she was gone. But, unlike Dana, she never came back.

My high school crush didn't have any "mysterious circumstances", though. That comes from another inspiration that I don't want to go into because it's a minor plot reveal and if I said anything, it wouldn't be, well...mysterious. (Oooooooooo—!)

Dana's fashion sense owes a lot to my long lost schoolboy crush but the rest of her is purely my imagination. After driving myself nearly mad trying to come up with a look for her, I just relaxed and started drawing. And the sketch above is what came out. And damn it if that ain't Dana. I think the head shot may be a little too femme fatale. But basically, that's Johnny's gal.

I absolutely can't wait to start working on this.


Denis said...

Hi Matt! I was wondering, seeing as I can't get to Baltimore next month (living in Ireland makes the drive excessively long... and wet...), is there any way myself and other like-minded Wieringo fans could support the scholarship, though Paypal donations or such? I'm a big supporter of HERO Initiative which I got into through Mike, actually. I'd just love to be able to support this fund as well.

Matt Wieringo said...

Hey, Denis. Thanks for the interest. Yeah, I can see how driving from Ireland could present a problem. If you'd like to donate directly to the fund, here's how:

Send a check or money order to:

Savannah College of Art and Design
Attn: Office of Institutional Advancement
Mike Weiringo Memorial Scholarship Fund
P.O. Box 3146
Savannah, GA 31402

Make the check out to “The Savannah College of Art & Design” and put “The Mike Wieringo Scholarship Fund” in the memo line. Be sure to include your name and address somewhere, so SCAD can send you a thank you note.

I'll be making a post about this as Baltimore gets closer.

Thanks again!

Leanne said...

The sketch looks great, Matt. Looking forward to seeing more of your characters!

Can't wait to see you guys in Baltimore!

Brian said...

I vote for keeping the Dana Barnes name.

Cool drawing, has a Dan DeCarlo vibe to me.

Unknown said...
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Matt Wieringo said...
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Matt Wieringo said...

Y'know, every time you spam me, you get my hopes up that someone's actually reading my self-indulgent crap. And the Crom kills a kitten. So think twice next time, huh?

Heywood Jablomie said...

Hey Matt!!

Totally missed that you had a few posts since the last time I was here.(which has been too long if you ask me but time is evil lately)

Like this alot, and I agree with Brian, keep the name. Can't wait to see this as you flesh it out more.

Adam Hutch said...

One more reason it sucks I can't make Baltimore this year! Awesome that you're gonna be there. Hope you raise tons of money.

Dana looks good. I agree with Brian and Mike you should keep the name. Have you found that working on 'Haps story has gotten you more inspired to work on your own material?