Story Updated! August 2, 2012


September 3, 2012

Hard to believe it's been three months since updating Mattie's site. I've been travelling and am now safely in the Kingdom of Bahrain. Going from Guam to Norfolk I finished my circumnavigation of the globe that started in May 2009 when I left Norfolk for Diego Garcia, a trip I took further a year later when I left for Guam. It was good going back to the US even for such a short while and seeing my family again. Moving about I haven't gotten any writing done but I've started drawing again so hopefully I can get the next part of Mattie's story put down. In the meantime I did this piece to keep Mattie fresh in mind even if I'm not writing her.

The idea for this particular illustration came from a visit to the MacArthur Memorial in Norfolk, Virginia. It's the old city hall and courthouse, now the burial site of, and a museum to Douglas MacArthur. Many of his speeches are posted throughout, one of which is the one he gave upon his return to Philippines in 1944. Usually if quoted you only see the first part, but it was here in its entirety and the last bit is very dramatic:

Rise and Strike. Strike at every favorable opportunity. For your homes and hearths, strike! For future generations of your sons and daughters, strike! In the name of your sacred dead, strike! Let no heart be faint. Let every arm be steeled. The guidance of divine God points the way. Follow in his name to the Holy Grail of Righteous Victory!

Very dramatic and impassioned meant to stir up a people after years of a brutal occupation. It brought to mind the idea of striking hard with a bolo.

I try to avoid sticking Mattie in actual, real world events. She's a fictional pulp character inhabiting a world a little after her time, more an observer of events that relates them back to the reader. Even in her fictional world she didn't turn the tide of battle, lead a band of fighters or become a hero, she's incredulous enough as it is, Matilda Jane Grumman is just a girl caught up in and responding to the world gone mad around her.

I did a piece of Mattie as a WASP, on the flight line with her gear on as a 'period piece' showing her as just another person in that time and place. That was 1943. So for 1944 her time and place now occupied Luzon the next appropriate period piece would be responding to that call like thousands (up to a quarter million people in the Philippines were guerillas during the War) did in the Philippines.

Plus, I really wanted to try my hand at drawing a bolo strike from an interesting angle.

Drawing Mattie required a few reference photos for the various elements. First was a shot of myself in Mattie's pose, stick ready and empty airsoft pistol in my off hand. I practice Eskrima drills and so am familiar with the proper way to swing, though for this, going for the dramatic strike I'd done some practice swings first to get my blood going. I wanted it to be a little sloppy, pushing a little too hard and so the form isn't perfect, the stick is a bit too high, reared back slightly to put more weight in to the powerful swing. The pistol's empty with slide to the rear, though it was a Browning Hi-Power (as seen in a few other Mattie pictures) and not the .45 1911A1 needed for this. Her shirt is slightly untucked because swinging that stick did that to me so I made sure to put that small detail in the image.

Great for the overall image, but though I've my mother's hips Mattie shouldn't be shaped like me, so I used a picture of a Norfolk radio station's Rock Girl as a reference for a woman in profile with a slight tilt to her that I exaggerated for the pull back on the swing. I just want to say, thank God modeling underwear is an important part of being a female DJ. Otherwise it would have taken who knows how long to find a good reference shot.

All while using those references for the skeleton I used my Allison Grumman reference drawing to make sure everything is the right length, shape, etc.  She isn't used for the actual image, but she gives  me base points to mark on the paper after making my initial sketch and a guide to make sure her proportions are right. For example initially her arms were too long and she was overall too thick.  Comparing her against the template I scaled back length and using both template and Rock Girl I slimmed Mattie down to her appropriately svelte size.

The major points out of the way, I started working on details. For clothing at first I wanted to give Mattie typical Filipina attire, which was a white shirt and dark skirt, but ultimately from this angle it didn't work, there's no details in it. If it was a front view or three quarters it would have been good but from this back and side it seemed like it would be better for her to be wearing the uniform shirt I usually stick her in. For that I used a photo I'd found somewhere online of a WASP  standing in front of a US Navy PBY Catalina, and as I've no idea where I found that image I've no clue what the story is behind it.

The last small detail on Mattie was the Colt 1911A1 .45 in her left hand. I decided to draw it slide locked to the rear, as if fired empty and now she was just on a tear with the blade. I'd an image from "The Pacific" I pulled from the Internet Movie Firearms Database that shows a Marine with his .45, slide to the rear as he cleaned it. It looked a bit small in Mattie's hands when I finished so after scanning I made the slide a little taller. Please remember Mattie is not a small woman, she's 5'10" with decent sized hands for handling airplanes, weapons and people that give her grief over her appearance.

Mattie done on a separate page, I started on the city street behind her and the Filipino fighters. I copied the three fighter's poses from a painting called The Capture of Fort Riviere, depicting US Marines fighting in Haiti in 1915. The poses are very dynamic and thought it would be perfect for the scene unfolding behind Mattie. I used period references for clothing, apparently a man could wear whatever color shirt he liked as long as it was white, and while shoes are optional hats are mandatory. I referenced an '03 Springfield, Japanese Arisaka Type 99 rifles and a Nambu pistol for their arms.

Ghosts of Seattle

Mariveles, Bataan Province, Philippines

This metal 'Soldier's Grave' is part of the Death March Memorial at Kilometer 0, where the march began in Mariveles. An identical sculpture is on Corregidor as well. We found this by accident, we were driving to the bancay boats to get to Corregidor when we missed our turn. I noticed the Death March marker we passed said "2 km" on it, so I asked our driver if he could go another two kilometers before turning around. Sure enough two kilometers down the road, across the the beach and nestled in a quiet little park next to a Jollibee fast food restaurant was the Death March Kilometer 0 Memorial Park.

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