The title of this blog sounds rather strange, so lets put it in context.
The Bulgy Bear is a character from the Narnian books, which are public domain. That means any writer can use them, much like Alan Moore when he created The League of Extraordinary Gentleman and used characters from Victorian literature in interesting new ways and much like any of ten thousand different writers can and have written a Sherlock Holmes story.
My own concept of the Mythlands – Mythical Creatures (which will start to show up in the second volume of my anthology collection BITE SIZE STORIES) is a hopefully original take on characters from fairytale, fable, myth, legend, literature and even pop culture and uses characters from worlds like Narnia, Oz, Wonderland, Babar’s Elephantland and many more.
But this isn’t actually an article about public domain characters – I just wanted to set the backdrop. Believe it or not, this is really about the OMP and the part of its mission statement that goes beyond just the book collection to raise money for our two specific charities (Cancer Research UK and the homeless charity EMMAUS). We also want to build a platform for spreading awareness of other worthy causes and discussing issues (See my last blog on Animal Conservation and the petition to protect JERICHO THE LION).
As a writer, I’ve never shied away from exploring different facets of character and society and although a lot of my stories take place under the Fantasy genre, I like to mix in some ‘mundane reality’ and not so mundane reality. The Mythlands stories are no different. You’ll find planes, trains and automobiles (The Hare’s corporate jet ‘Hare Force One, Mr Toad’s roadster etc), mobile phones, discussion of menus in restaurants, self help groups, pirate radio stations (run by Captain Hook and Mr Smee) and even scenes where characters go to the toilet (the Asgardian God Vali heeds the call of nature and stands by the urinal beside a stuttering pig in a tuxedo who is described as a bit porky), corporate and economic business structures (Mythical Creatures Interdimensional and its board of Directors including Chairman The Tortoise, The Owl and others with major stockholders Mr Toad and King Babar) and much more.
Reality mixed with fantasy characters and fantasy setting. There are different races, religions (the relaxed multi denominational religions of the Domain as opposed to the extreme and oppressive church of the Aslanist State of Narnia) and styles of government (The benign corporate rule in Domain City, the whimsical monarchy of Babar, the firm grip of Queen Ozma over her nation and its vassal states such as Merryland and Ix, who voted to leave the Ozian Union but Ixit was overturned when Ozma sent in her troops) and, most pertinently to this blog, sexuality.
Just as in real life, we are straight, bi, gay, gender fluid, trans – we are monogamous, polygamous and many other labels or descriptives that miss the point that we are all human beings, regardless of any of that; in the Mythlands the creatures, humans, gods, talking or anthropomorphic animals et al, are also what they are.
When writers write about sexuality (or race, religion, ethnicity etc) they sometimes make a big deal of it and it really shouldn’t be a big deal. It should just be, because people just are. End of.
In The Mythlands there are four acknowledged gay characters (though in my mind canon a 5th – Goldie Lochs swings both ways) – The Owl and The Pussycat, an openly gay long standing couple with a rock solid relationship, introduced in one of the two tiny ‘pre stories,’ before I began my epic adventure THE HEIST. Since then, I’ve written some 50,000 words and The Owl has only popped up briefly at the MCI quarterly board meeting to give a presentation on the status of the Cair Paravel Economic Summit in Narnia – he’ll shortly return as the action is currently in Narnia and heading to a collision in Cair Paravel.
But back to the title of this article … in my last installment, written today, I’ve outed the Bulgy Bear – I haven’t made a big deal of his sexuality and as he’s been defined as a character already so he’s not ‘The Gay Character.’ – he’s a character that just happens to be gay. As it happens it does raise a slight plot point as he lives in a repressive society where the extremist faith of the land condemns gay people. Being gay in the Aslanist State of Narnia is punishable by death. His boyfriend and love of his life is a foreign diplomat that has come to Narnia for the economic summit. As a non public domain character (like the stuttering pig) I can only allude to this character in very general terms – he is a small bear called Boo Boo (He does NOT wear a bow tie!). No other facts are known about him, though I might mention he has a friend with a green hat who likes stealing picka nic baskets!
So the Bulgy Bear and the others are Mythland characters – Bulgy is a veteran soldier and Narnian loyalist whose strong faith is being tested by a series of revelations about injustices within his society, that are coming to light as the formerly isolationist Narnia, slowly opens its borders for the first time in seventy years. These are the main elements of the character.
His sexuality has nothing to do with defining him (except in a vaguer sense against his society) and that’s how it should be!
I hope to present guest bloggers and to address gender and sexuality issues from different perspectives – mine was from the writer/fantasy POV – others will be more directly to do with real life and experience.