Monday, November 18, 2013

Character-a-Day: July Johnson and Roscoe Brown

So I’m posting up a character design per day from Larry McMurtry’s wonderful western novel Lonesome Dove, and I realized that I was starting to fall into the movie trap.  Like Harry Potter, the casting on the Lonesome Dove movie (miniseries) is so good and so spot on to the book that it’s tough to envision any other incarnation of the characters, which is one of the reasons that I like trying to design characters that have already been designed, to see if I can stray from the adaptation (especially if it’s a good one) without losing the essence of the characters.  
The first, unsuccessful pass at July and Roscoe's designs

Well, with my first pass at July (done some time ago) and Roscoe, I fell into the movie trap.  Roscoe’s a bit on the heavy side, July is thin.  I didn’t even realize this until I was rereading the passage where Roscoe hooks up with the zestful farmer, and she points out how he’s be a good match because he’s skinny, and that’ll make it easier to drag his corpse to a grave once she works him to death (that farmer, Louisa Brooks, is one of my two favorite supporting characters).  I didn’t draw him skinny.  I fell into two easy solutions - one, taking the movie route, and two, making a character fat because he’s a slow-witted bumpkin.  I’m especially mad at myself for the latter.
The second finished pass at July and Roscoe.  I like this one much better.

Anyway, I made Roscoe skinny, which meant that July needed to change in order to better contrast his “partner” Roscoe.  So I made him a little beefier.  I think this works for the character - his age, early twenties, merits it, and it’ll make him seem more useful on Clara’s ranch later in the book.
Anyway, some thoughts on decision-making.

1 comment:

  1. As a slow-witted bumpkin, I appreciate your avoidance of typecasting my people. I myself happen to fit the type, but the effort is still appreciated!