I managed to finish the final issue of The Casebook of Boschen and Nesuko last night just before 8pm and then it was only another hour and a half before I could upload it. Mostly that time involved putting the pdf file together. If nothing else, this experience has taught me to really hate working with pdf files. Good gods. It's entirely possible I'm doing it wrong but the editor I'm using, Foxit's, is so damn awkward and counter-intuitive. I have to put in each picture individually, page by page, and then scrunch them to fit the page because gods forbid the programme automatically fit an image to a page for me.
Anyway, I thought I'd share some concept art with you. Here are my original sketches for Seun Fawera, the movie critic character introduced in the final issue:
I mostly modelled Seun on Greta Garbo but the character ended up looking more like Marlene Dietrich at times. I wanted Seun to look like Greta Garbo but sound like George Sanders in All About Eve, I wanted a delightful, Oscar Wildian jerk. You'll notice I'm not using pronouns because I didn't want to throw anyone who hasn't read the comic--Seun belongs to a three sex species and is not male or female but sumale, an utman--those are the words I came up with. And fi and hion and hions. It's a little awkward because "sumale" and "utman" are obviously similar to English sex words (though I guess utman sounds a little similar to the Hindu word for soul, "atman"), I figured things might be confusing enough as it is. Anyway, a species that requires three sexes to get together in order to procreate doesn't make a whole lot of sense, it was more a hypothetical exercise than a proposition on something that might actually be feasible.
Maybe that's why species with more than two sexes seem to be rarely attempted in science fiction--I looked for examples before I started but couldn't find many. Apparently there was an episode of Star Trek: Enterprise with a three sex species but the third sex was rarely seen. I was more interested in exploring a culture where the three sexes were a fundamental component at all levels, as much as male and female are in ours. I also had some idea of satirising modern social justice criticism--I almost dedicated the final issue to Milo Manara who took a lot of unjustified flack recently for his cover for Marvel's Spider Woman for making her look sexy. It addition to the weird outrage over sex being an element in fantasy--it seems young people are getting fresh with their dreams now, the scoundrels--there was also criticism based on the lack of realism in the anatomy of Manara's Spider Woman. Which, as a point of critique, I always find a little surprising because it suggests that readers believe comic book characters are typically drawn with mostly perfectly accurate anatomy and that's there's value in that despite the invention of the camera.
I first encountered Manara's art in Endless Nights, the very good Sandman anniversary special written by Neil Gaiman and featuring several stories by different artists, Manara illustrated a story about Desire. I later read Manara's wonderfully sexy Gullivera about a female Lemuel Gulliver of Gulliver's Travels.
Anyway, I didn't end up spending too much time on that satire but it's the main reason I made the utmen the traditionally dominant sex. Just as in human cultures, ideas of sumale intellectual superiority aren't founded on any solid scientific ground. I started thinking of their role as being traditionally sort of the executives of a relationship. If the man's role is to protect and hunt, the woman's is to nurture, then the utman's is to make sure both are doing their jobs and both are making the best uses of their times. That's their vaguely acknowledged traditional role but in the modern world of the comic there are only subconscious echoes of it. That's why movie critics and nerds are more likely to be utmen.
Here's my concept art of the workers at the dock where the Rytherus lands in issue three:
You'll notice utmen always wear long skirts, this is due to their big, weird genitals. The idea was that intercourse between all three sexes could occur at the same time so one of the three was going to need good reach, which is partly where the subliminal concept of the utman as the executive comes from. But I realised if men and women didn't have face to face, familiar sex, that would likely fundamentally change the perspectives the sexes have on each other. So the utman has both an orifice and a sort of phallus--the male's semen must first pass through the utman before it's viable but the male must also ejaculate in the female or the sperm processed through the utman would be rejected by the woman's body. Sex with an aim to procreate begins with the male ejaculating in the female, then the male ejaculating in the utman, then the utman ejaculating in the female, and it all has to take place within twenty minutes. Obviously this makes birth control a lot easier.
Anyway, I hope everyone who's read it enjoyed it and wasn't too put off by the fact that this ended up being a very different kind of story than the first Boschen and Nesuko series. I'll be uploading the final sixteen pages in free versions on Fridays over the next couple weeks here.