Shady characters

Character study - Boo
DAJB at 1:29AM, Dec. 27, 2007
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Boo (a.k.a. Ellen Sansom)



Name

“Boo” is short for Boudicca, the First Century warrior queen of the British Iceni tribe who led a revolt against the Roman occupation of Britain (and very nearly succeeded in sending them packing!)

There's no specific reasoning behind Boo's alter ego of Ellen (or Ellie) Sansom. “Ellie” does not imply she represents “all women” (as in the French elle), nor is “Sansom” meant to allude to the Biblical Samson (despite her voluminous hair!) Both were simply names I chose at random and, as the script progressed, they seemed to suit her, so I never changed them!

Appearance

The most striking aspect of Boo's appearance must be her hair. As a Celt, red was an obvious choice for the colour and entirely in keeping with the fiery temperament I intended to give her. Although I didn't know it when I began work on Shades, the only written accounts of Boudicca's revolt (both Roman) confirm that the real-life Boudicca was indeed red-headed. Unfortunately, they also say her hair was worn in braids which I didn't want, since I felt they might make her look too young and too similar to the Shaman's “disciples”. Instead, I opted for the wild mane of red hair, partly because I felt it would look dramatic in combat and partly because it invites comparison with the mane of the symbolic British lion.

Although it's well documented that some Celts fought naked, I decided Boo ought to be more modestly attired (and besides, in the Shaman, we already have one naked character!) The Roman historians describe Boudicca as invariably wearing a long blue robe/dress. This wasn't going to be especially suitable for the kind of battle I intended to put her through and so I had to look for inspiration elsewhere. Despite its similarity to Xena's, the costume design we eventually used was not based on that of TV's warrior princess, but on a combination of First Century Roman armour (the Celts would often take armour from the bodies of fallen Romans) and a number of images I found online of women attending Celtic festivals around the world.

Role within the story

Given her history, the idea of making Boo head of a women's shelter (Women in Crisis) seemed entirely logical. Setting it in the East End of London was little more than a whim, chosen primarily because that's where I happen to have been born and bred!

For me, Boo embodies two very British traits. The first is our strange compulsion to support and protect the underdog. The second is a particular sense of humour. On the surface, it can sometimes seem quite cruel and barbed (especially to those unaccustomed to it) but, at its heart, it is more teasing than malicious, never intended to hurt and is accompanied by a willingness to laugh at ourselves in a similarly direct and self-deprecating way. It's obviously not a sense of humour wholly exclusive to the UK (or even universal across the UK) but it's an aspect which is certainly common here and one I've not often encountered in other nationalities.

Weapon of choice

Originally Boo was going to be equipped with a diverse range of spears, each of which would be particularly suited to a different purpose, much like Green Arrow's specialty arrows. As the script developed I moved away from that idea and gave her a single spear. That one spear was intended to be a high-tech version of a simple throwing spear. The design brief was that this spear should bear the same relationship to a “normal” spear as a modern geared sports bow bears to a Mediaeval short-bow. It was a nice concept but, in practice, almost impossible to show properly on the page without lots of unnecessary close-ups on the spear itself.

The final version is an ordinary-looking spear with certain “mechanics” built inside the shaft. Most of the time, the spear appears simple and straight, for throwing. However, the internal mechanics allow it to change in two ways. Firstly, with a simple button press, the centre section of the shaft will convert into a handgrip, making it more effective in close-quarter combat. Secondly, both for combat and simply for ease of carrying, the length of the spear can be shortened (much as Matt Murdock's stick telescopes into Daredevil's billy-club).
last edited on July 18, 2011 10:23AM
alanajoli at 9:02AM, Jan. 2, 2008
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Very cool description! It's neat to see some of the inner creative workings behind the story, and I love the history angle. Boudicca is practically a mythic figure, which gives her namesake great potential as a superhero. ;) I also like the Roman style armor–much better than another naked character.
last edited on July 18, 2011 10:23AM
DAJB at 2:02AM, Jan. 3, 2008
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Thanks, Alana. I'm enjoying putting these Character Studies together. I've had to trawl back through my old notes to remind myself why I did certain things and, since this all started about four years ago, I keep surprising myself at how detailed my planning actually was!
last edited on July 18, 2011 10:23AM
Adam Black at 12:16AM, Jan. 31, 2008
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What a splendid idea you have here! Click the picture on the main page to go to a forum entry with a description of the character. I am officially stealing this idea from you.

And, hey: the character writeup isn't bad, either! ;)
last edited on July 18, 2011 10:23AM
DAJB at 12:25AM, Jan. 31, 2008
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No need to steal. Consider it a gift!
;)
last edited on July 18, 2011 10:23AM
dragonrider at 4:58PM, Feb. 26, 2008
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Just found this, after I made my post on the main site.. can't say enough super, super comic. The bard in me wants to bring forth a tribute to Boo and the ideal she represents, but sadley I fear I do not have the talent for that.
Do NOT meddle in the affairs of Dragons. Because, YOU are crunchy and taste good with ketchup!
last edited on July 18, 2011 10:23AM
DAJB at 11:38PM, Feb. 26, 2008
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posts: 1,462
joined: 2-23-2007
Thanks, Dragon but … Aaaw, go on - do the bardy thing!

You know you want to really, and I know Boo would love it!
last edited on July 18, 2011 10:23AM

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