The Man Behind The Mask

I thought i should talk a little about the Black Sheep's alter ego... the man behind the mask... Rupert Rumney.

I am a big fan of the 1990s Sandman Mystery Theatre comic... also the 1930s Shadow radio series... and one of the things i love most about those is that the focus tends to be more on the man than the mask... it's all about the character and what drives him and how he relates to those around him... an approach i hope to take with my own comic.

In an earlier post i think i summed up the Black Sheep as Bertie Wooster crossed with Batman.

I'm assuming most people are familiar with P.G. Wodehouse's Jeeves and Wooster... but if not then Bertie Wooster is basically a rich idiot whose long-suffering valet is forever having to extricate him from various awkward situations... the stories are really very funny.

I was reading one of the books a while back and it occurred to me that, since most of the stories were supposedly narrated by Bertie, maybe he was just playing up his stupidity for the sake of a good story. And from there i daydreamed a whole scenario where Bertie Wooster was an idle twit by day, and by night a deadly vigilante.

So the Black Sheep's alter ego owes more than a little to Wodehouse's loveable moron.

Another major influence was Herman Cyril McNeile's Bulldog Drummond.

Captain Hugh "Bulldog" Drummond is, like Bertie Wooster, a rich gentleman of leisure... but unlike Bertie he is a two-fisted force of nature. After the war Drummond is bored and restless so decides to become a private detective of sorts... altho his brand of detection is often little more than outright vigilantism. It's fantastic pulp fun... and even tho the writing can be a bit dated at times i thoroughly recommend checking the books out as they were a heavy influence on the likes of James Bond and Doc Savage... and now also on the Black Sheep obviously.

All of which brings me back to Rupert Rumney.

Before the war Rupert was an idle waster living on his parents' money. So when the war comes his parents decide to enlist him in the hopes that the experience will make a man of him.

Of course they had no idea how horrific the war would be or what terrible things their son would have to endure in the trenches... his eyes are opened and he gets to experience the very worst of humanity.

In order to survive he has to learn to fight... and he discovers he is rather good at it... something which disturbs him greatly.

By the time the war ends he feels broken and numb and empty.

On returning to Britain he is sent to an asylum to recover from his experiences.

But when he leaves there to go home the thought of settling back into his old vacuous lifestyle horrifies him... he wants to do something real and meaningful with his life.

Such as wearing a mask and kicking the shit out of gangsters... of course.

Rupert establishes a double life... as far as most people are concerned he seems to revert to his old self... an idiot with too much cash and not enough common sense... while in secret he is out on the streets at night prowling.

Righto... i think that's enough for the time being.

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