Some writers regard their fictional characters almost as real people. But you don't seem very broken up about blowing B.D.'s leg off..That's an amazing testament to some of the powers of art; it reminds me of Care Packages: Letters to Christopher Reeve from Straners and Other Friends, a sampling of some of the letters that Reeve got when he was paralyzed after a riding accident. His wife, Dana Reeve, wrote that within three weeks of the accident, the local post office had processed over 35,000 pieces of mail for him from all over the world, some of which were simply addressed to "Superman, USA." It's also an interesting approach to the writerly problem of bringing conflict and drama to a world one has created in one's head--a necessity to good fiction that requires torturing one's characters.
Well, the terrible truth about writers is, they create characters and then they put them in harm's way. That's what drama is about. As a writer, I don't have an emotional link to the characters. I have to summon them up -- I have to pull them out of the toolbox and put 'em to work. They don't live in my head. So I was overwhelmed by some of the letters that came in about B.D. It was so emotional. People wrote that it made them feel they had a personal stake in the war -- like someone they knew had been harmed. People were even more astonished when B.D.'s helmet came off. It signified his vulnerability and made it all the more difficult for them to accept. I was talking to a soldier in the hospital, and I said, "I draw this comic strip, and I have this character named B.D. who lost his leg." The soldier's eyes widened: "B.D. lost his leg?!" Here's this mangled, broken hero lying in his bed, and he's concerned that this character he knows had such a terrible thing happen to him. It was very moving.
Spring 2006: Guest Bloggers!
Rishi | Scott | Emily
Echan | Robert | ToastyKen