Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Jaka (Then)

Cerebus #129, December 1989
Art by Dave Sim & Gerhard

(from Note From The President, Cerebus 114, September 1988)
Someone took me to task for revising history and claiming that Jaka was not based on Deni. They were going by Deni's Note in Cerebus #6 which stated that the story-line was a wedding present to her. It was, but it was more or less a cautionary tale trying to inform her obliquely (if not opaquely) of strong emotional ties I still felt for the woman Jaka was based on - who became an exotic dancer (read stripper) shortly after Jaka first appeared. The emotions depicted in the drugged Cerebus reflected the feelings I had toward the mistress I had at the time Deni and I got married. Three menacing figures in that story were named, anagrammatically, out of Deni's last name and my mistress' last name (Loubert and Hitchens became Tchens, Trebu and Lohi). I was naive and ridiculous and the poorest imaginable husband material (still am) but my subconscious was at least able to dredge up what I considered a particularly interesting character out of a singularly unstable period of my life. The really interesting thing to me as the creator of Jaka is that even though I can trace her origins from Deni's wedding present to what I felt for Sally to the lingering allure of Lynn, she resembles these three not in the slightest (except for having Lynn's hair). I had a very clear picture of her from the very beginning. I always found her easy and enjoyable to draw.

But the most appealing quality about her is that she has led a simple, almost completely uneventful life (almost). Unlike most of the characters in the book there is no need to pick and choose among the myriad forces, incidents and relationships that shape a character. Virtually everything that makes Jaka Jaka can be covered in pretty short order, and the resultant person is pretty basic and easy-to-understand.

I admire the character far more than the other characters in the book. Cerebus is too much of a born loser; wilfully self-destructive. Astoria is too single-minded and humourless. Lord Julius is always "on"; the Roach too out of touch with anything approximating reality, even the Elf is too mind-lessly happy all the time. When I'm writing them I'm observing from a discreet distance. I'm interested, but not to the extent of wanting to have dinner with them or anything like that. Jaka on the other hand is someone I would happily spend a lot of time with. She embodies those qualities I always look for in a woman. She has a very simple way of thinking for which she is unapologetic. She's loaded with common sense and self-confidence. She is direct and has a low threshold for bull-shit. She has virtually no interest in material possessions though she has an appreciation of them. She is almost certainly on the top rung of the karmic ladder and won't be back for another life-time.

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