A second major figure in the novel is Ellen Scheherazade Abu, daughter of the mad scientist, Julius Herman Abu.  Ellen is a brilliant, sophisticated, beautiful young woman, very much sheltered from the world by her father, however (though it is hard to call him 'overprotective' since intelligence agencies and commandoes from around the world have been trying to kill or capture him for years).  Julius Abu long ago lost his emotional bond with the rest of Humanity, and therefore has little difficulty in contemplating acts of terrible destruction and revenge.  Perhaps the only thing that still matters to him is his daughter's opinion of him, and this she must wield in the world's defense, seeking at every turn to humanize her father and recover his genius for the good of the earth.  Ellen is, thus, at her core, a healer and the conscience which can restore Humankind (which resembles Abu in its dark moods and its confusion) to its true potential.  She, alone, is the one who can guide the rage and the hurt to a place of light. 

In my mind, Ellen's physical appearance sprang into being from a variety of images which contributed elements that came together naturally, fused into an organic whole, and finally generated a powerful and radiant new image that took on a life of its own.  Among the influences shaping her were an old girlfriend, a European figure-skater, and a model in a magazine.  Once conceived, I could see Ellen clearly with my eyes closed... every expression, every nuance of her heart and mind as it manifested physically.  She was totally alive for me. I was no longer her creator, but her ardent admirer. 

Of course, it was difficult for me to transfer this exact image from my mind to the mind of my artist-collaborator, Katalina.  So Katalina did what the gifted artist must do, which is to absorb as much of the spirit of the character as possible, and place it within the general descriptive frameworks I was able to provide her with.  The first result, presented in a preliminary sketch, was beautiful.

What is really interesting is the development that took place after this.  Katalina wanted to add more detail and take the image to another level, which, in a fascinating way, mirrored the development of Ellen, herself, in the novel.  For Ellen begins the novel as a brilliant, magnificent woman who has, nonetheless, been stunted in certain ways by the sheltered life she has been forced to live.  Coming out of her shell and demanding to live life more fully and less peripherally as the novel progresses, new dimensions of maturity and understanding accrue to her character.  These are reflected in the fuller representation which came out in Katalina's final portrait, in which the fairy-tale aura of the original Ellen is replaced by a more real-world and developed heroine.

^  Ellen S. Abu, as drawn by Katalina Gutierrez for The March of the Eccentrics.

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