In the land of the blind the one-eyed man is king

 It was only after my serious eye issues started to spin out of control in 2019 did I make the connection that three of my four principal characters in Secrets of Jarrow were also visually impaired! In the summer pre-Covid an undiagnosed retinal detachment lead to further complications months later that have now spun out over the following four years into no less than nine eye operations, not counting a handful of laser surgery episodes as well. For the past year and a half I have been viewing the world through an eyeball full of cloudy silicone oil with a retina that resembles 100 miles of bad road and makes the world look as if it is reflected in a fun house mirror. Which is no fun at all.

But when I was drawing up Secrets of Jarrow and developing the characters for the first of the Mordecai Crow books all that lay far in my future. It was just coincidence (or maybe premonition?) that gave Podd his massive techno goggles, Veritas her eye patch and Teknos his steam punk jewellers’ loop. So why all the character eye problems?

I think there are a lot of answers to that. The first is simply visual - no pun intended. I like drawing characters with eye paraphernalia. Maybe it is partly because I have worn glasses myself since I went all myopic as an adolescent, but I find eyewear helps give the characters their unique personality. Podd’s goggles mark him as a myopic computer nerd, Veritas’ eye patch as being a bit tough and bad ass and Teknos’ loop and cataract eye as a quirky eccentric. 

I was thinking that also, in a future world, something as specific as eye care is going to be pretty unlikely. Cataracts likely won’t be treated, damaged eyes won’t be fixed and although I could well imagine that a plethora of old eyeglasses might be filling the dumps, it would be a matter of sifting through them all until you find a prescription that comes close to suiting your needs.

These days, as I walk around all squinty and blind in one eye, hopefully short term but finding out that I face yet another eye operation tomorrow, perhaps all my one-eyed and visually impaired characters seem a little bit too close to the mark. But I’m also thinking, maybe I’m just becoming Teknos - the querulous old bastard already got most of the best lines in the book and his cynical views of humankind’s future are paralleling my own more and more as I slowly morph into my own comic book character. In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king!

Now just to Google “steampunk jeweller’s loop”. Gotta be one out there somewhere…