I can't give away too much on his backstory, because parts of it are yet to emerge within The Rainbow Orchid. He works as an assistant to historical researcher, Sir Alfred Catesby-Grey, and we know that he saw service in the Dardanelles. In fact, here's an old photograph of him from those days.
As you might guess from his much younger looks, there's a distinct possibility he may have lied about his age to the recruiting officer. I can reveal that this photo led to Julius meeting with Sir Alfred for the first time, but that's a story for another day.
I have been asked whether I chose his name to fit in with an entire stream of fictional heroes who share the initials J.C. (Jerry Cornelius, Jesus Christ, John Carter, Jiminy Cricket etc.), or even quite a few famous real people too (Jarvis Cocker, Joe Cornish, Johnny Cash... oh, there's hundreds). The answer is no, it's not something I realised until a long time after I'd created him. In fact, if I'd have thought of it at the time, I may even have steered his name away from that area, because I wouldn't like anyone to read anything into the coincidence.
I did a lot of sketching until I settled on his look (he was blonde to begin with). His features aren't strong, it's mainly his streamlined (or Art Deco, as someone once joked) eyebrows and hairstyle that are definitive. His hairstyle was inspired by a photograph of silent film actor Neil Hamilton from D.W. Griffith's 1924 film, 'Isn't Life Wonderful?' I recently discovered that this is the same Neil Hamilton that played Commissioner Gordon in the 1960s TV series of 'Batman'. In The Rainbow Orchid, a small boy asks if he's the silent film director Rex Ingram, but I was originally going to have the boy say Neil Hamilton instead. Unfortunately that name is more famous in the UK for a somewhat disgraced and embarrassing politician-turned-"celebrity", so I avoided it.
I will say one final thing about Julius Chancer, which is that I know the date of his death! I will spotlight another Rainbow Orchid character soon.
An early drawing of Julius from 1997. You can see another one here.
|That's actually a first! A writer who knows when his protagonist will die! Do you know exactly how he will die as well?|
|Indeed I do!|
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