Working through Time: Evolution of a Character

I’ve been thinking stories for as long as I can remember. Sometimes I drew some of them, sometimes I planned them, sometimes they just evolved episodically within my mind.

Either way, the stories have always been there.

But there was never a proper way to express them.

The relatively newer ones, I am self-publishing online.

Punto Ciego is one of them, an amalgam of ideas from various previous stories, rolled into one package with a new cast of characters that ended up twisting the story beyond what I originally envisioned (Which is, to me, the first sign that the story is Good Enough For Me, as a creator).

The other one is Dreamless, which started out as one thing, then morphed into another thing, then bred with another stranger thing and is now beyond even my own recognition. It has a plotted beginning, middle and end, but it’s not quite what I originally envisioned four, five years ago when that story first started taking shape. The main lead was first a man, then a woman, and now…

Well, that’s for me to know, and for you to find out. I’m gonna try to write it and release a small “Episode” every Friday, barring the unexpected (Which is, unfortunately, a very common occurrence in the life of the Common Anatole Serial). I am not abandoning it, though, not this time. It’s the other precious child I have, and it needs to grow.

But I’m not here to talk about those stories.

I’m here to dig deeper in time.

What does it mena, to dig deeper in time? For someone that has been making stories, finding That Character, the one that started to become An Actual Character and not just Another Tool To Tell a Story, is a complex task.

Or at least it should be, because in my case, that character is still around kicking in some way or another.

I can’t seem to find the first drawings I have of her (So this part of the text will probably be replaced by an OLD OLD OLD drawing once I dig into the Anatole Serial Physical Archives (Of Peril (Of Doom)) and take the damn thing to a scanner.

Let’s try to make a homage to that old style, before explaining what she was, what she became, and how that relates to everything.

Now, onwards! TO ART!

This is Sheyla, an honest, optimistic girl from a non-descript city somewhere.

She’s the first “Protagonist” of a Story of mine that actually started to take place as a Story.

It had a beginning! A middle part! An END!

In the story, she was a Psychic. A VERY powerful psychic, who can barely control her power.

A mysterious guy from a mysterious organization finds her and helps her gain more control over her power, while another guy from a rival organization is sent to kill the Mysterious Guy.

Obviously, this develops into a horrid sort-of romantic triangle.

Add the ghost of a Dead Girl, and a biological experiment gone wrong, and you get the full cast.

I can’t remember how the story progressed. I remember that she ends up being some kind of divine being or something, and that she ends up with the Mysterious Guy for no good reason whatsoever.

THE END.

Ahem.

Welcome to 1999, the year I imagined all this. I was fifteen years old, and still full of dreams and love.

I tried, to the best of my ability, to draw Sheyla the way I used to draw her.

I failed miserably, mostly because I drew it on a tablet and a big size, instead of a corner of a notebook using real lead pencils.

Also, the art classes, and all that practice.

Anyways, I tried to develop that story for months, but I could never grasp what I needed to do with it (For reasons that are now obvious, the whole thing is full of awful cliches, the characters are not interesting and there was no way to connect with any of them). I started thinking other stories, and after some time, Sheyla stopped being relevant.

Like most characters, I kept coming back to her in some way. Whenever I dug through my archives, I would find drawings of her and ended up updating her appearance every now and then.

As time passed, though, there was no way she could survive. She started fading into obscurity…

Other stories came and went, and as I grew up, so did my characters.

They started getting weird, and at some point the prototype world of Misteria appeared, in a small story published as part of 656 Comics and Mecenas Galeria Estudio’s local comic anthology “El Comiquero” (Page 21 onwards).

It wasn’t called Misteria then, but it was a seed. A world in which I could get away with telling complex stories with a supernatural element, and experimental nonsensical stories. Uriel, the kid whose head was a skull, grew a lot of skin and was reborn as an older Juan Calavera, and his dad, Señor Calavera, became considerably more human and gained an awesome appearance thanks to my buddy Alex. Oh, and he also became an insane detective.

I took a couple of other character concepts I had been tinkering with and thus Misteria was born.

Of course, those 4 pages are pretty much the only thing I ever published of May’s “origin” story.

That doesn’t mean the Misteria world was dead, though… Far from it. May and Juan became the protagonists of my 2008 24-hour comic day comic (Of which I’ve lost my originals AND my digital copy, so I’ll need to pester the guys who scanned it to find it so I can show it).

It’s called NONSENSE, and it was, literally, pure utter NONSENSE.

And I loved every minute of it.

So by 2009, I was making new characters and taking old characters and giving them new spins. Aaaaand that’s how the 2009 24-hour comic, “Carrington Institute Science Club“, came to be.

Originally it was going to be the story of how Kara met Flora, and helped her deal with her “problem”, Julius. Renee had been born a couple of weeks earlier, when I was developing the setting of the Carrington Institute, and that was my “Backup plan” in case I had decided not to draw the origin story of Kara+Flora+Julius.

On the day of the event, I scrapped all those plans, and decided to start from scratch. Improv! Improv ALWAYS!

May was the advisor from the start, so I chose to hide her identity for the final reveal. But what should I do for the final reveal?

Suddenly, a remembrance…

Psychic.

Sheyla.

A perfect fit for Misteria.

So her Origin Story evolved from “Helped by a Dashing Knight to become an ANGEL OF JUSTICE”, she turned into a “Psychic Girl with an awful personality whose power turned her into an asshat”.

Whoops.

In the end, there wasn’t much difference. Even before Sheyla was incorporated into the Carrington Institute Science Club, there were plans for a rivalry between two competing organizations that captured/convinced/coherced various individuals/creatures/abnormalities with unusual abilities… And the Science Club, smack dab in the middle, as a “Neutral” group.

The new Sheyla was improvised into the story, but her personality came as a direct result of her abilities, and the manner of her “awakening”. She had always been a brilliant kid, well behaved but with a dark, rotten side to her. When she found out that she had an incredible power, both her control over it and her dark side grew as one. She is her power, and her power is herself, so even though she is not actually a bad person, her personality is just plain mean and condescending.

24-hour Comics Day is right around the corner, and this year we return to the Carrington Institute to see how their everyday goes… Or  not.

This is Sheyla now.

A high-school student with amazing psychic abilities who was essentially blackmailed into a prestigious school called “Carrington Institute”, and has also been coerced by a mysterious (And rather young) professor known only as “M.G.” into the ranks of the “Abnormal” Science Club.

She expected something EXCITING, something THRILLING and UNIQUE, something challenging for her astonishing and destructive abilities.

The only thing she has met has been utter disappointment.

As it turns out, Supernatural Creatures are mostly boring and keep to themselves.

So the “Science Club” that was formed to deal with Supernatural Cases deal with really boring stuff, like prankster hobgoblins and animated garden gnomes.

If the sword of Damocles didn’t hang above her head and her family’s, she’d blow off these suckers.

She still has to attend the Club room, as failure to comply to this simple directive would result in one terrible indescribable Punishment…

Suffice to say, she was shown how deep the rabbit hole goes, and it was enough to convince her that The Punishment was definitely not worth skipping Club Meetings.

So now she knows she’s better off just attending the Club, even if it means spending almost every day wasting one hour listening to Kara’s endless anecdotes of vampire lore, playing videogames with Flore or pretending she hasn’t noticed Flora’s rather vigorous hand inside Juluis’s pants.

Boring, boring, boring.

However, this is M.G.’s club, and even though Sheyla has not seen it, weird stuff DOES happen, and if only she started caring a bit more, she’d realize that the real excitement is not in the big stuff that may or may not happen… But the small, common things we may take for granted.

Sheyla has become a bit jaded. She’s still excelling academically, but her rebellious personality has evolved from “Physically Violent” into “You know what, just fuck off”.

Maybe her next adventure will further define her personality?

We’ll know, come October 1st.

See you then, Sheyla!