Daily Archives: December 13, 2011

Character Building: Arella Dorchester

Fourth in a series of character descriptions for the rewrite of Black Mask & Pale Rider.  This fourth installment: Madam Arella Dorchester.

As the name suggests, Arella Dorchester is the owner of a frontier bordello.  When she first meets Pania Alow, she has a brothel and boarding house that she owns over a tavern on the outskirts of Chicago.  It is here that Pania learns a great deal about this red headed southern belle.

Arella runs a clean establishment, and the money she brings in is used to ensure her girls get any and all medical attention that they need.  Doctors will often take note of the fact that Arella has a number of African American girls in her employ.  Often, she’ll make up one excuse or another, but as Pania finds out, Arella is playing a dangerous game.  Her boarding house and brothel is a way station in the Underground Railroad.

As mentioned before, Arella has all the mannerisms of a true southern belle.  She comes by it honestly, born into a southern family, she was destined to be a fine lady, and had caught the attention and the eye of many a many in her home of Atlanta.  Arella was much more firm in her own opinion, however, an aspect that got her into many an argument with her mother.  Eventually, Arella left Atlanta, but she didn’t leave alone.  She had met a Yankee when the Confederacy separated from the Union, and together, they made a plan to join up with the Railroad.  They learned everything they could.  They even had a short relationship that ended when he was killed by a band of bounty hunters looking for escaped slaves.

Eventually, Arella settled in Chicago and opened her boarding house.  Which is what it is officially known as.  It is here where Pania meets Arella, and the two have a whirlwind of an affair.  At the outset, Arella, and her girls, know of Pania as a stage show performer.  Until one night that the figure of Pale Rider needs assistance.

The bordello and Arella help Pania, but eventually, thanks to the law tightening regarding brothels, Arella and her girls have to leave.  As does Pania.

Arella is an older woman, in her forties, but has all the charm and beauty of someone years younger.  Her charm is backed up by wisdom and experience.  Arella knows how to handle a gun quite well, having needed to do so while traveling under cover of darkness, guiding escaped slaves to new found freedom.  She is extremely protective of the girls in her care, and will not tolerate any mistreatment at all.


Posted by on December 13, 2011 in Black Mask and Pale Rider, Writing


Tags: , , , , , ,

Quotes for the day

A couple of really good quotes, one on treating women characters in comics (and in turn, treating male characters in comics), and the other a response to the statement “Date an Illiterate Girl”.

Greg Rucka, well-known comic-book writer and n...

Image via Wikipedia

By the same token, sexy is not exploitative, and exploitation is dishonest. Reverse that chain and you can see that, whoever you are writing, if you are honest about them, fair to them, and allow them their moments of brilliance, you can create that sexiness without it becoming pandering. Sexy is not a visual trait – that’s titillation. Cheesecake, beefcake, those are entirely visual matters. What makes someone sexy – what makes anyone sexy, in my opinion – is less how they look than how they do. Competence is sexy. Capability is sexy. Confidence is sexy. Smart is sexy. A character who clearly embodies these traits in some capacity or another is a character who is going to be attractive.Bending over to pick up a dropped pen with your ass high in the air isn’t sexy, that’s just a butt shot. We confuse arousing with sexy in the same way we confuse strength with cruelty. A strong character isn’t, by definition, a mean one, but the confusion between the two has lead to a shorthand where the attempt to depict a female character as “strong” translates to “bitch.” They’re not the same. Strength is part of character, as well – those characters who know what they want, know what they’re willing to do to achieve those goals, and who rise again and again against opposition are, by definition, strong.

Greg Rucka (via ComicVine)

Date a girl who reads. Date a girl who spends her money on books instead of clothes. She has problems with closet space because she has too many books. Date a girl who has a list of books she wants to read, who has had a library card since she was twelve. Find a girl who reads. You’ll know that she does because she will always have an unread book in her bag. She’s the one lovingly looking over the shelves in the bookstore, the one who quietly cries out when she finds the book she wants. You see the weird chick sniffing the pages of an old book in a second hand book shop? That’s the reader. They can never resist smelling the pages, especially when they are yellow. She’s the girl reading while waiting in that coffee shop down the street. If you take a peek at her mug, the non-dairy creamer is floating on top because she’s kind of engrossed already. Lost in a world of the author’s making. Sit down. She might give you a glare, as most girls who read do not like to be interrupted. Ask her if she likes the book. Buy her another cup of coffee. Let her know what you really think of Murakami. See if she got through the first chapter of Fellowship. Understand that if she says she understood James Joyce’s Ulysses she’s just saying that to sound intelligent. Ask her if she loves Alice or she would like to be Alice. It’s easy to date a girl who reads. Give her books for her birthday, for Christmas and for anniversaries. Give her the gift of words, in poetry, in song. Give her Neruda, Pound, Sexton, Cummings. Let her know that you understand that words are love. Understand that she knows the difference between books and reality but by god, she’s going to try to make her life a little like her favorite book. It will never be your fault if she does. She has to give it a shot somehow. Lie to her. If she understands syntax, she will understand your need to lie. Behind words are other things: motivation, value, nuance, dialogue. It will not be the end of the world. Fail her. Because a girl who reads knows that failure always leads up to the climax. Because girls who read understand that all things will come to end. That you can always write a sequel. That you can begin again and again and still be the hero. That life is meant to have a villain or two. Why be frightened of everything that you are not? Girls who read understand that people, like characters, develop. Except in the Twilight series. If you find a girl who reads, keep her close. When you find her up at 2 AM clutching a book to her chest and weeping, make her a cup of tea and hold her. You may lose her for a couple of hours but she will always come back to you. She’ll talk as if the characters in the book are real, because for a while, they always are. You will propose on a hot air balloon. Or during a rock concert. Or very casually next time she’s sick. Over Skype. You will smile so hard you will wonder why your heart hasn’t burst and bled out all over your chest yet. You will write the story of your lives, have kids with strange names and even stranger tastes. She will introduce your children to the Cat in the Hat and Aslan, maybe in the same day. You will walk the winters of your old age together and she will recite Keats under her breath while you shake the snow off your boots. Date a girl who reads because you deserve it. You deserve a girl who can give you the most colorful life imaginable. If you can only give her monotony, and stale hours and half-baked proposals, then you’re better off alone. If you want the world and the worlds beyond it, date a girl who reads. Or better yet, date a girl who writes.

Rosemarie Urquico’s Date A Girl Who Reads, a response to Charles Warnke’s You Should Date An Illiterate Girl (AKA Robert Pattinson did not say this)


Posted by on December 13, 2011 in Fun, randomness


Tags: , ,

Character Building: Clayton “Slowhand” Johnson

Earlier, I posted information about the main companions for Shani and Pania.  Those being Verit the pixie, and Scales the pseudodragon.  Now, I would like to introduce the people who help Shani and Pania when they first arrive on Earth.  We’ll start with Clayton “Slowhand” Johnson.

Slowhand, as he is called, is an old, rugged gunslinger who travels the area that borders the frontier of 1860s United States.  He’s had his share of gun battles and his own share of misfortune, even avoiding the gallows a time or two.  Slowhand acquired his name because he would never draw first when it came to a gun duel.  He’d always wait until his opponent would begin to draw his pistol from it’s holster, causing many to believe that Johnson was slow on the draw.  But as Slowhand said, it’s not you draws first, it’s who fires first.  And he was always one to make sure his barrels fired first.

He is approximately 50 years old, and many will say he is the son of an affluent New York lawyer.  Slowhand left home at the age of 20 to explore the new frontier, completely against his father’s wishes.  Several bad run ins, and Johnson had to learn to fight.  Fortunately for him, he found a mentor that taught him well.

He in turn becomes a mentor for Shani, and even helps to take care of Scales.

While Johnson may be the type of man that Shani would call a brigand, he isn’t a cutthroat.  Johnson makes sure his renown is dulled, so he won’t become a target by the law or other gunslingers.  He teaches Shani reliance, survival, and how to use a gun.

Johnson is not the type of man to immediately brand someone without knowing a little about them first.  He has a knack for filtering out what is truth and what is rumour.

Clayton “Slowhand” Johnson stands approximately six feet two inches tall, and is a tad heavy set.  He does not stoop at all, finding that standing tall usually acts as a greater intimidation than any insulting words ever could.  His hair is long and grey, often hidden by the weathered stetson he is often seen wearing.  His skin is tanned and leathered, not exactly the complexion you would think a man born in New York would have.  He speaks in a soft tone, but not because he is a soft man.  Johnson knows that a whisper will at times garner more attention than a shout.


Posted by on December 13, 2011 in Black Mask and Pale Rider, Writing


Tags: , , , , , ,

Character Building: Scales

Yesterday, I gave a bit of a detailed description about the additional character called Verit that will become a part of the rewrite for Black Mask & Pale Rider.  Verit is Pania’s pixie.  Today, I’ll focus on the pseudodragon that is with Shani.  He is called Scales.

Scales looks exactly like a dragon, but is about the size of a domestic house cat.  Brown and grey in colour, Scales has a long snout, filled with tiny sharp teeth.  His eyes are yellow with a black slit and the crown of his head has two long horns that curve down below his jaw.  Spikes follow down his spine, growing shorter until they reach his tail, whick tapers down to a point.  From the tip of his snout to the tip of his tail, he’s about twenty four inches long, and he weighs about fifteen pounds.  His back legs look rather powerful, able to support his frame quite well when he feels the need to stand up on his hind legs.  His fore legs, which look more like arms, are equally as powerful and he uses them to rip apart some of his favourite foods, which include apples, oranges, beef jerky and small rodents.  His wings measure approximately forty inches, and fold up neatly on his sides.  They appear covered in small, glossy scales that shift from brown to red to grey to orange when the light hits them just right.

Scales is rather lazy, which may have come from the fact he was mistreated when Shani found him.  Captured by a brigand lord, Scales’ master was killed.  As Shani discovered, Scales was the familiar of an old mage.  Brigands attacked the caravan the mage and Scales were in, and Scales taken as a trophy.  Shani reported finding the encampment, and even reported rescuing Scales, and at first the Mage Academy wanted to relocate Scales to a new mage, but Scales seemed content in staying with Shani.

He has a very neutral demeanor when first seen.  He is neither interested, nor does he ignore new people, he just merely watches them, often from his position perches on Shani’s shoulders.  Scales is affectionate with Shani, which may have to do with the fact that Shani is an elf of dragon blood.  Often, he will rub his maw against her cheek, and he seems to whenever Shani scratches just under his chin.  Whenever Shani is on the road and needs to camp for the night, he’ll sit quietly by the fire, almost tending it as he drifts between sleep and consciousness.  Thanks to the run in with the brigands, he has taken to being alert while Shani is asleep and will often guard her while resting on a small pile of rocks that he’ll gather together.  He is most comfortable when Shani is at home or at an inn or tavern, when he can sleep on a nightstand or nearby dresser, usually curling up on top of Shani’s gold pouch.  After a while, Shani had taken to setting out some of her gold or gems she’s found to help make his bed.

While Scales does appear lazy at first meeting, he is quite adept at defending himself and Shani.  He will often take flight and use his fire breath to ward off thieves and cutthroats.

When first seen on Earth, when Shani appears in Clinton, Arkansas, Scales is an oddity, and a few hustlers try and con Shani into selling him.  Fortunately, Shani meets up with an old gunhand by the name of Slowhand Johnson, who manages to ward off any curious gawkers.


Posted by on December 13, 2011 in Uncategorized


Tags: , , , , , ,

%d bloggers like this: