Reference Reading List:
Butlers & Household Managers: 21st Century Professionals by Steven M. Ferry
The Basic Overview:
I’m starting off with this book since I just finished reading it last week. As a result, it’s still fairly fresh in my mind. It’s sort of a guide for anyone interested in getting into the butler profession and covered topics such as the basics of the job, dealing with guests - pleasant and troublesome ones, hiring/firing staff, as well as how to handle the fact that you’re an outsider living in someone’s home. The quote, “guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days,” came up quite often - the point being how to avoid annoying the folks you’re working for and keep your job. A bit about the history of the profession was included as well.
All in all it was pretty interesting, though I did read more about wines and cigars than I ever wanted to know.
What Caught My Eye:
One thing that really stood out was in “Chapter 12: Security and the Odd Job Factor.” The chapter covered information about securing the home - surveillance systems, alarms, and ensuring everyone is aware of what to do in an emergency situation. Basic stuff. What caught my attention was the section on acting as a butler/bodyguard.
This itself wasn’t too surprising. The Battle Butler is a trope, one anyone who’s a fan of Batman is familiar with. Seriously, don’t make Alfred mad. He’ll kick your ass.
No, what surprised me was this bit.
From page 110…
Your view is to immobilize your adversary as swiftly as possible; he is behaving psychotically and can be regarded, if somewhat callously, as a sort of “weapons system” that has to be “neutralized.” So if you have already tried the reasoning approach and he is still in attack mode, then it is time to overwhelm him hard and fast. Bullets do this, but only if you direct them to the right spot.
You always aim for the chest, shooting two bullets as fast as possible.
If he still does not go down, then he is probably wearing body armor and you have to go for the headshot.
My uncle’s a retired police officer and the impression I’d always received from him was officers, while trained to shoot to kill, are encouraged to shoot to disarm. I was led to believe this meant wounding your opponent in the arm or leg, not aiming for areas where vital organs are situated. This may have been because my uncle was talking to his young niece and was softening things a bit, more likely than not.
Mr. Ferry does go on to explain that attempting to shoot a limb will often lead to a miss due to the rush of adrenalin you’d be experiencing. When you think about it, it makes sense. Someone who is trained rigorously and extensively for combat situations has a much higher chance of focusing through the adrenalin and hitting a small, moving target compared to someone who, while prepared for the situation, has not had as much intensive training. When you get down to it, you can survive a chest shot - possibly a head shot too if you’re lucky - so aim for the big target you’re more likely to hit.
Add to that a civilian acting in self defense will often not be under as much scrutiny, or at as much risk of bad public opinion, as a police officer.
Mr. Ferry does make it quite clear that taking on the added role of bodyguard is not something to approach lightly…
From pages 107-108…
There may be a romantic or macho image to carrying a gun, but in truth, it is a nuisance to have a hard and heavy lump rubbing against ones chest. I can almost guarantee it will never be used, but it has to be carried anyway, according to the old umbrella principle.
In the event I would have to use a gun, the grim reality of the destruction those bullets would wreak leaves no room for posing and creating an image. It’s sweaty business ducking behind cover, being deafened by the blasts and scared out of ones wits by the near misses.
As a bodyguard, one is obligated to physically interpose ones own body between ones employer and any assailant, so that one can take the bullets. If that is not an appealing thought, then read no further.
We’re so used to media which glorifies violence that the reality of just how much damage said violence creates often gets ignored and forgotten. It’s important, in general but also as a writer, to remember this.
So Why Did I Pick This Up?
While the side series will focus on filling out Moraine’s side of the “Fairy Tale” arc, it’ll be told from the perspective of one of Moraine’s staff. Moraine herself is a little excitable when young - she calms down with age - and aside from Roderick the members of RCSI aren’t close enough to her yet to offer a good inside view.
While I could go with the general omnipotent narrator, I want to try using a more first person voice for this side series. This is partially as a writing exercise but also partially because it just sounds fun and challenging. So, I need someone close to Moraine.
I initially planned on using Emily Brown, the cat maid who showed up briefly in Issue 16 as the narrator, but it turns out Emily can be kind of histrionic at times. I want someone a little more sedate and reliable as a narrator. On top of that, Emily herself also needs a foil.
The research is for this new character. While I could just go with a stereotype, I figured doing a bit of reading couldn’t hurt and might even help me develop him into a more full-fledged character. We’ll have to wait and see.
As for when he’ll show up, you’ll meet him briefly in the next few weeks or so. We’ll spend more time with him when the side series starts mid-summer.
As I said last week, I’ve been debating sharing some of the resources and references I’ve been going through lately. I always feel a little uneasy doing this sort of thing - past experiences of sharing more in-depth, behind the scenes stuff have not been kind. Still, I’m going to try moving forward with the idea in the hope that the posts will be interesting to a few readers. I do more work on the comic than just the basics of drawing and writing and would, frankly, like to share some of that side.
So, what topics have I been looking into? Due to the side series which will be starting up in a few months, I’ve been focusing a lot on post WWII Britain, societal changes and attitudes of the time, fashion, and the domestic service trade. Books on writing and dialog have also started to work their way into my reading list lately due to my interest in trying to get back into prose writing.
The references should, for the most part, be easy to find if you’d like to check them out for yourself. Admittedly, some of them are a little dense and dry, but most have been fairly interesting. There are some fiction books, TV shows, and movies in the mix as well, so it’s not all dull.
I’ve mentioned this a few times before, but it’s worth repeating… my goal in doing this research is not historical accuracy. CN:H is a comic about talking animals and magic, for cripes sake. Some suspension of disbelief and historical anachronisms should be expected. Also, I’m not an expert nor have I any interest in billing myself as one. My reason for the research is to gain some insights that will, hopefully, help me create well-rounded, believable, and interesting characters. Not to mention a more solidly structured story. Please keep that in mind.
While at this point I have enough information for the side series, I’m always looking for more sources. I just like learning things. It’s fun. If you know of any that I may find interesting, please let me know. Though if possible, please no movies or TV series. I can’t watch them while I’m working and I don’t often get the chance to watch them at night. As a result, I’m already so behind on my TV viewing I’ve lost all hope of catching up. But books and websites… for some reason I can always find time to read.
It’s a great way to mangle your hand.
Films and TV use prescored glass bottles (and, I think sugar glass), to give them that ragged edge when they knock them against something. In the real world, breaking a bottle by knocking it against something will cause the entire thing to come apart, burring glass shards in the fighter’s hands.
Something to remember for the future…
The Fey are their own type of creature. While they may resemble critters we’re familiar with - pigs, goats, deer, etc. - they’re not actually those species at all. They’re Fey. So their shapes don’t really affect what mortals can and can’t eat.
Mortals do eat meat on occasion. There are no morphed livestock animals. Morphed species are mostly animals like mice, dogs, cats, rabbits, badgers, foxes… If a species is walking about talking and wearing clothing, that species is not on the “can eat” list. If a species is not walking around wearing clothing and talking, it’s edible.
That being said, vegetarianism is big. Fish and seafood are a favorite as well. And soy-based meat is very popular. But non-morphed - or base, as it’s often referred to as - animal meat is eaten now and then, mostly by mortals who have a more carnivorous ancestry. For example, Max is more likely to stick with veggies and soy-based meat products. Ruby, due to living with Max, tends to do the same out of courtesy. Sassy, who doesn’t live with someone from a more veggie-base ancestry, will switch between animal meat and soy-based meat as the mood strikes her.
As someone who ate a lot of soy-based meat in college, I can testify that it’s actually very good when done right.
Most livestock is kept for milk, wool, hides, feathers, eggs, transportation, and pets. The animal meat industry, while there, isn’t anywhere near as large as in our world.
Most fur-accented clothing is made of synthetic fur, though older such clothing contains real fur elements. Leather still comes from cows which are considered “base” animals and thus free for use. Not everyone agrees with this idea, which has led to the rise of synthetic material mimicking leather for shoes, belts, and such.
Groups like PETA are alive and well in the CN:H world.
Small lizards and birds are often kept as pets, while larger birds and reptiles may be used as guard animals, seeing eye / service creatures, and, of course, transportation. The reason we haven’t seen many characters with pets yet is because we’ve, for the most part, been focusing on Max and Ruby - RCSI doesn’t allow pets in the flats.
A “crazy budgie lady” is the CN:H world’s equivalent of a crazy cat lady.
Of course there are cannibals just as there are in our world. They just don’t get talked about in polite society.
So, what do Fey eat? Whatever they want. Who’s going to stop them? I’m certainly not going to!
I’m sorry if you feel the comic is hard to read at times. I enjoy stories with convoluted plots, so those are the kind of stories I create. *shrug*
It doesn’t matter how well-written, developed, and deep a character is, there will always be a group of people in the fandom that will reduce that character to 2 or 3 traits and then misinterpret everything they do based on those 2 or 3 traits which may or may not even be accurate to that character.
I’m afraid Matt and I have a policy of not accepting story, plot, world, or character submissions. It puts us in an uncomfortable situation. We’re not willing to play favorites - someone’s feelings always get hurt that way - nor can we give in to everyone. So, we decided long ago to not accept any.
I’m sorry. :(