Last month I finally dusted off my Twitter account. I made mention that I’d been in the process of developing two new characters for Thinking of Utopia that wouldn’t appear until much later in the story.
At the time of the Tweet, I was in the middle of sketching out one of the two characters. I’d put thought into wanting to bring such a character into the story, but just couldn’t figure out who that character was yet. Finally, on December 10th, they appeared in my mind and I put them to paper. The other character had been on the back burner for many more months, but didn’t come to be until this evening. And so, I introduce to you Gail Taupe and Andy Crane.
I haven’t been that active in creating the comic and haven’t shared all too much because of that. However, I had made it a point to not share characters before they were relevant, and much less when all I have of them is the first (extremely rough) sketch. Rarely do the characters stay exactly as they appear in my first sketch. I begin to mold them and tweak until they finally match what I expect of them from all the thoughts bustling in my head. And yet here I am introducing Andy and Gail in their rawest forms. Why? Because I can’t stop thinking of Leelah Alcorn.
There is so much I want to share using Thinking of Utopia as that platform. It’s the whole reason I decided to let it be more than just that 3 page short story for an English class my senior year of high school. It wasn’t until my sophomore year of college that I decided to expand it and I credit my experiences in college, up to that point, for that decision. I was exposed to so much in those first two years and that sparked something in me. I had been exposed to diversity like never before, and with that, I was also exposed to hate. As the years passed, I became more aware and continued to write as things came to me. One day I took all my random writings and scrap papers and put them in chronological order. I realized I actually had enough to put the story in motion. When I started to focus on it more characters came in to the story line to help bring in other topics I wanted to touch on. That’s when I decided that I’d have the story follow Chris into college… because it was in college that I learned so much more about people – about diversity beyond ethnicity. I learned about the spectrum of love and identity. Years later, I’m still in awe at all the diversity and my heart aches at all the hate and misunderstanding surrounding it. This is where Gail and Andy come in.
Gail had been brewing in my mind for about two years when I finally got a good enough feeling for her to capture her in a sketch. Gail will introduce to the story polyamorous relationships. She came to be due to the fact that I have friends who are polyamorous and I realized that I’d get less than positive reactions from other people when I’d talk about my friends. Not that I expect Thinking of Utopia to become this big thing or anything (especially with my constant issues getting it updating), but at least it will be one more story out there featuring that bit of diversity. And while thinking of diversity that isn’t given that much thought and finds a lot of adversity, I thought of the transgender community. About six months ago, Andy Crane started to stir up in my mind. It wasn’t until December, 10th that he came to be… and a few weeks later, Leelah Alcorn committed suicide. I don’t expect Thinking of Utopia to become anything grand, but I at least hope that it will touch at least one person who eventually reads it in the future.