Tuesday, August 23, 2011

How my character became a case of mistaken identity

I was probably in 11th or 10th grade, when a schoolmate from junior high approached me during lunch period to ask me 'How's Sonny?'
My best friend (still is), got mad at me afterwards and demanded to know why I never told her about this ex-boyfriend named Sonny.

I laughed as it took me a while to calm her down. I explained that Sonny was a comic character I invented while stuck in summer school math class (I would be imprisoned in Summer School almost every year from 5th grade to 11th, with maybe a year or two of respite that I did well enough to move on to the next grade).

Later, thoroughly mollified, my best friend expressed her disbelief at how could an invented character seem so real to a person that they would remember years after?

I reminded her about this anecdote years later and she laughed at how jealous she had felt towards this classmate knowing something about me that she didn't (my best friend and I did not attend the same junior high school).

****
Birth of A Character

Bored out of my skull, and stuck in a class whose subject proved my greatest enemy for most of my academic life (Math), drawing a comic book was my only release.

I was puny, a loner, and nerdy. I wore glasses, had braces near the end of junior high into high school, where the wretched railway system was blessedly removed (Thank Heavens!), and I was bullied for one less thing, which was a blessing in and of itself.

Drawing was always an escape, like reading, and so I concocted a group of high school friends (Kids always want their heroes older) and they were: bears, cats and dogs.

I used notebook paper, drew the panels, inked, colored and put in the word balloons.
The story took most of Math period and through endless viewing of the school movie "Summer School" (how appropriate! Cool movie, by the way).

Soon, classmates were actually waiting for me to finish it.
I made a copy in the school library, kept the original, and watched like wildfire as the copy changed hands. I received praise and criticism alike : "I like his hairstyle!" "I didn't like the ending!" There were cries for a sequel.
I didn't have the marketing sense then: Had I sold each page for a dollar, my classmates would have paid it, and I would've made a tidy little sum to spend at the end of summer.

This episode on the power of my words escaped me many times after.
I would finally GET IT when I ended up in one of the few honors classes I'd take in high school.

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