The Jernegan Solution: Character Development, part 2

This is the only photo I could find of Charles Fisher, another principle character in the story. I liked the vain, dandy-ish look of it, which subtly fits with the character’s role in the story. Like his partne, Prescott Jernegan, he remains pretty mysterious in the historical record, and in the comic as well: he doesn’t actually say a word in the story, though he plays an important part. Here are some sketches I did. Some are stand-alone character doodles, others are taken from the rough versions of the pages, in which I was also developing the look of the characters.  In both this case and that of Jernegan, while I start from the photograph, I know that my visual development of the character is going through the prism of his role in the story, so that representing that personality in the drawing takes precedence over capturing a likeness — especially with such limited reference material.  In my drawings of Fisher, I went for a sort of “hooded” quality to the eyes, and a funny thing in the mouth — some combination of self-satisfaction and petulance that might be mistaken for humility.  I think this depiction combines what I think I see in the photo, with a pure imagining of the character based on what we know of his actions.

Fisher head - early one fisher sketch
jernegan and fisher fisher heads corrected R
 fisher in chair

Some images of Fisher from the finished inks:

fisher p 1 fisher p2

The third major character in the story is almost entirely fictionalized, the journalist Rob Getchell. The Lubec Herald in 1897-1898, from which we have most of what we know of the Jernegan story, was owned by “R. G. & F. L. Getchell Editors and Propietors.” I decided to combine them into one, and call him Rob.  I know absolutely nothing about the real Getchells, beyond what can be gleaned from the tone of the writing in the old papers; from this I imagine a young, enthusiastic reporter, full of optimism about the modern era and its potentialities.

getchell sketches 1

Getchell is the “stand-in” for the reader, the point-of-view character.  As such, I pushed the character in a simpler, more cartoony direction:

getchellsgetchell sketch

Then pulled back on the goofiness a bit:getchell typing

At one point, since this story is low on female characters, I considered changing Getchell’s gender. There were female reporters in those days, though it was rare.
female Getchells
I decided not to in the end; the character turns out to be sort of a dupe, and it didn’t feel right to create a “glass-ceiling” shattering character then make a fool of her.
Here are some panels of Getchell from the final inks.

Getchell from p5

In terms of costume, since Getchell is a young man of the coming generation (in 1898), I thought the Panama Hat, a relatively new fashion, and round, tortoise shell glasses would be a good fit.

Here are some more character studies/sketches, developing some of the supporting characters:

ryan sketches
Arthur Ryan, a jeweler from Middletwon, CT., one of the first investors in the Jernegan scheme, and an officer in the company. No photo reference, so I just imagined…


pierson sketches
Pierson, the other early investor in Jernegan’s company; a florist from Middletown. no photos that I could find, but he’s described as a likeable, sociable and energetic fellow; and a “big swede.”
Mary, an old woman who sits on the porch of the newspaper office, handing out gossip and wise advice.  Totally made-up character.
Mary, an old woman who sits on the porch of the newspaper office, handing out gossip and wise advice. Totally made-up character.
Lives in: Cambridge, Mass. Does: comics. Used to live in: Topanga Canyon, California But grew up in: Cambridge, mostly Used to do (maybe still?): Screenwriter, journalist, teaches some too

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