Andrez Bergen writes,
Ever had a character that you can’t seem to cold-shoulder – not that you have no idea how, but because you don’t actually want to?
Deep down were it counts, I mean.
Mood-swings might shake the apple – I think we all know Conan Doyle tossed Sherlock Holmes off a waterfall, before reviving him eight years later – but the character weathers whims, and sticks his or her roots in to stay.
Like all those different actors playing James Bond, I guess.
In my case, it’s Bullet Gal.
She started out “life” simply enough – a dead member of the cast in my 2013 novel Who is Killing the Great Capes of Heropa?
The girl got killed off in the prologue.
Bullet Gal, a.k.a. Mitzi (her last name remains a mystery), was basically a joint homage to Lara Croft, Buffy, Tank Girl and golden age comic characters Sand Saref and Bulletgirl. She even snatched that latter kid’s costume.
With these influences in mind, Spanish artist JGMiranda put together a pin-up that appears on page 181 of the novel.
Mitzi’s pistols – polished-nickel 9 mm Star Model Bs, each with a mother-of-pearl handgrip (and in fact cheap Spanish copies of the Colt .45) – are the same one that Samuel L. Jackson used in the film Pulp Fiction.
Despite her short-lived role, Mitzi was everything right about a female character: strong, determined, better than most of her male peers in spite of a horrific past. Anyway, all this guff aside, when I wrapped the Heropa novel, I thought I said farewell to Bullet Gal as well.
But something of her stuck in my gullet. I felt like there was more for Mitzi to say. And when I commenced my next novel, 2014’s Depth Charging Ice Planet Goth – which is a surreal coming of age story in the 1980s, in a warped version of Melbourne – somehow principle character Mina morphed into Mitzi.
I’m still not sure how she pulled that off, but it ended up becoming a prequel to Heropa, and her offbeat origin tale.
The conclusion of that novel is set about five years before the events of Heropa. Afterwards in 2014, I was floundering without a book to occupy my brain. Incidentally, however, the previous year I’d gotten stuck into writing comics and occasionally illustrating them.
Again, Mitzi clouded better judgement, demanding a twelve-issue solo comic book series that I made across 2014-15, doing words and art on the fly, without any game plan, and published through IF? Commix in Australia.
It’s the filler story between Planet Goth and Heropa.
Once I wrapped that series, I decided it was my Reichenbach Falls, and Bullet Gal was out of my hair. Even after licensing the series to Canadian publisher Under Belly Comics for a 2015 trade paperback edition subtitled ‘It’s Not You, It’s Me’, I believed I could safely move on.
Her story was told.
And yet. Man, how many times have you heard that expression? ‘And yet’. Huh.
Anyway, and yet she lingered – and this year, Mitzi’s decided to kick the bloody door down.
She’ll be making a guest appearance in an Australian comic series I do with artist Frantz Kantor called Magpie, which is featured in the national magazine Oi Oi Oi!, and I’m flat-out finishing a novelized version of the Bullet Gal comic book for a U.K. publisher.
In my initial script she was a maybe, possibly a cameo, but over the past few weeks Graeme and I have put our heads together and conjured up an heir-apparent.
It’s been eye-opening stuff, and makes me realize the Bullet Gal idea is something that’s a little dangerously infectious.
Anyway, this Bullet Gal that Graeme and I dreamed up isn’t Mitzi at all.
She’s a bubblegum-masticating teenage “legacy” character named Junie Mills (her name’s a doff of the hat to pioneering Miss Fury creator Tarpé Mills) that sent me this week scrambling back to the Bullet Gal novel manuscript to insert Junie’s own origin – which involves Mitzi rescuing the six-year-old from a human trafficking ring.
Get it? Got it? Good.
Here, then, is Graeme’s visualization of Junie Mills as the new Bullet Gal.
Stay tuned for more guns, guts and (likely) mayhem.