|Bronx Angel: Politics By Another Method. Page 13.|
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My rule of thumb is that background should be now more than 20% of your story. Here, I think we've got all of one page in the first twenty-two, so that's good. Plus, given that we've already met Angel's parents, I thought it was necessary to explain how he managed to wind up in a gang rather than at Harvard or something.
Truth is, a good kid from a decent family in the Bronx has plenty of opportunities--even in the south Bronx. The problem tends to be not that the opportunities aren't there but rather that the kids' homelives and family structures are often incredibly chaotic, making any kind of academic and/or traditional success difficult, especially in the kids' formative years. And once the kids fall behind, get the idea that school's not for them, or basically just give up on making it in any sort of traditional way, it becomes problematic--to say the least--to get them to start thinking in terms of reintegrating into mainstream society. It just doesn't seem like it's their deal. And soon more chaos ensues.
That was Sally's experience teaching in the south Bronx, anyway.
Speaking personally, I only worked in the Bronx for a few years, and I liked it mainly because you saw the whole spectrum of human society right there in that one place. Yeah, there were parts of the Bronx where folks just hung out on the stoop and watched the world go by, where the best thing that happened was not getting busted by the cops. But truthfully, that was just a few neighborhoods, and they were isolated. I saw a lot, LOT more places where there were folks struggling but holding together, doing their thing, and working. Hustling. I saw a lot of places that could have been Angel's family's place, the infamous "South Bronx Diner", and ultimately it was those folks and those places that inspired me the most. Plus, they always had the best coffee.
In any event, Angel doesn't fit the kind of gangland loser paradigm very well, which is why I wanted to kind of explain away his former life. But maybe that's part of the point of the story. Angel has a family and Spice doesn't. Maybe that's all that's different, that one simple act of fate. Who knows?
Art wise, my favorite part about this section is the way Randy drew Darlene. She's not too pretty, y'know? Not somebody with a lot going on in her own life before she met Angel. Not too many of her own prospects. Who else is gonna follow her boyfriend to the south Bronx? Anyway, I thought Randy captured that very well with her hair because of the way it looks so thin and stringy and with her clothes because they fit her like sackcloth. No one in comics ever understates a character like that, and believe me, it did not happen by accident.