Creating characters for a story is often the most engaging aspect of the work for me. I rely on a combination of experience, observation, instinct and intuition as I shape character and story together. (A good line of thinking runs that character is story and vise versa. And that these two aspects evolve and reveal themselves simultaneously through the unfolding of the tale.)
Jekka took particular care in shaping. She first appears in the very passive role of a young “damsel in distress” under the wing of Jason Bolt. But as she eventually comes to be a central figure that the story revolves around, she needs to be a substantial character in her own right. The conventional comic way to do this would be to turn her into an “action hero”, but I was dead against that from the start. It simply wouldn’t fit in with the “rules” of Trekker’s world as I see them. Jekka’s a young girl, never trained in fighting arts. So that transition would be ludicrous. I had to find another route to make her the substantial character the tale requires– another and more subtle route that wouldn’t violate my own sense of believability.
Jekka is at the stage in her life where she moves back and forth between being a “girl” and being a “young woman”. She’s a sensitive, observant character with a lot of awareness of the world around her and of herself. She’s not happy about the role fate has put her in, but accepts it and keeps her spirit strong in spite of that, finding interest and fun as she can. Those seemed like good qualities that, if I convey them in the story well enough, will keep her an interesting character for the reader to connect with and want to follow.
Physically, Jekka is based on a young family friend. Basing characters on real people is a great stating point. But through the alchemy of the artist, they must be transformed into a character with a quality and life of their own– they must be translated into a comics character. From my initial drawing of the character, done as a gift before I ever envisioned this story, Jekka had a look and a relationship with Mercy that was more carefree and stylish. For purposes of the story, her clothes became more functional and grounded, her personality more introspective. I also based her wardrobe on the thought that she’d have a few elements that could be mixed and matched, giving her some variety in look but not requiring a large set of articles as she has to travel light. And I’m keeping her colors keyed to a couple of hues that seem to fit her well.
Whether it all works will be up to the reader to decide. There are more twists and revelations in store for both Mercy and Jekka. No spoilers here. But as things are revealed, the impact and believability they convey will depend on how well I’ve laid the foundation for their character in the earlier stages of the story.