Matilda Jane "Mattie" Grumman is an eccentric flying boat pilot raised in the Philippines and survived the Japanese occupation of her home. She's as deadly with bolo as she is a rifle and learned jungle survival from native Filipino Aetas and Igorot tribesmen and every which way to track and take down a man from her father, a retired U.S. Marshal who rode the Indian Territory when that meant something. She's the owner of a charter air service that can get any client anywhere in Asia or the Pacific Rim and, when the price is right, hunt a bounty with the best of them.
Mattie was born on a ranch near Ada, Oklahoma. Her family moved to Mariveles, Commonwealth of the Philippines when she was four. Her mother and younger brother both died of Malaria shortly after the move. Her father Theodore Grumman, a retired Federal Marshal turned aviator, taught her to fly flying boats for the family business and she gained her pilot’s license by the age of 14. He also taught her marksmanship, tracking and horseback riding. Otherwise was home-tutored by a Filipino nanny and learned from Bong, her father’s flight engineer. During this time she traveled throughout the Philippines and the Pacific. She speaks fluent Tagalog, Spanish and can swear in ten other languages.
As war with Japan came closer Mattie was sent back to the U.S. in November 1941. Having lost contact with her Stateside family when they move from Oklahoma during the Great Depression Mattie lived with Bong’s sister in Hawaii. She heard the last from her father right before the Battle of Bataan (January-April 1942). Living with Bong’s relatives she continued to practice the fighting arts his family practiced.
In 1942 her nearest living relativewhere found living in Dead Mule, a town in California’s High Desert. She struggled living with these complete strangers, locals distrustful of “Okies” such as herself and dealing with the deserts dregs and other colorful characters. After leaving there she worked at various civilian air schools before joining the newly created Women Airforce Service Pilots in 1943. She mostly flew flying boats and bombers but also got to try her hand at a few fighters including a ride in a captured Japanese A6M Type 0 (Zeke) fighter.
Not knowing her father’s fate weighed heavily on Mattie, especially as she heard more and more stories of Japanese brutality. In 1944 while ferrying Army OA-10 (PBY) Catalina flying boats she unwillingly got caught up in a spy's plot involving two Catalinas with identical serial numbers that ended with the plane written off as destroyed and herself dead. In the end she flew off with the plane and working her way across the war-torn Pacific returned home to search for her father.
Unfortunately after months of hard searching she never found him or even learned the details of his fate. When MacArthur returned she had nothing to show for her efforts but months of Hell, a few wild adventures and a mastery of the bolo, the Filipino machete.
Character Design Notes
Mattie is essentialy 1940's Allison Grumman from my comic Comfortably Numb. She's been through a few iteration since I started working on this in 2008 and I spent a long time bouncing between 'Modern' and '1940's' for the setting before settling on the past since I love history. At the time I was stationed in Camp Ar Ramadi, Iraq so there were plenty modern drawing references for U.S. military assets, Soviet vehicles and AK-47s but I kept gravitating to the post-World War II setting because it felt better for story telling and since I study history, especially that region's during the War, I'd have a lot of background material to work with. Originally I also went back and forth between making this a purely prose story or a graphic novel. I went with prose with pictures because I didn't feel up to making a full blown graphic novel.
Physically Mattie's Allison. I like the idea of her not looking like a femme fatale or an amazon, more like a school teacher or librarian who's lanky and short-sighted. So she's a realistic person but one who lives this big, colorful life of an adventurer. Her adventurer persona has three basic aspects- pilot, guerilla/soldier and Western gunfighter. All three are things I've researched to give her as full a background as I could and hopefully as I introduce details about them your interested will be piqued and you'll look more into it yourself.
Her name and accent come from my Oklahoman grandparents. Though "Mattie" is a reference to True Grit (1969) her full name of "Matilda Jane" and preferring to be called "Mattie" is based on my grandmother, Jane, and her dislike of being called "Maggie Jane".