A while ago, I mentioned that I wanted people to fictionalise me – to name a character after me in some work of theirs; a novel, a short story, a script, a song, anything.
What I like about this idea, apart from its obvious appeal to my sense of vanity and self-importance, is its slow burn nature. Both Emma Kennedy and Jenny Colgan have said they’ll include James Wards in their books, but book publishing takes quite a long time, so these fictional versions of me won’t come to life until the middle of next year at the earliest. I like that. This is a long, slow process. It will continue long after I have forgotten all about it.
I also like the chaotic nature of the idea. Because this is something I am asking other people to do, I’ll never really be able to monitor it. It happens without any input from me, without my knowledge, and over a timescale I can’t control.
The other day, I got an email from someone called Morgan Seekoo saying they believed a character in a web comic was based on me.
“I” am the green voice.
There were three factors which led Morgan to believe the character was based on me:
- The character is called James, which is also my name.
- The character mentions writing to the manufacturer of the engine room and complains he only received a form letter in response, which is the sort of thing I do quite often.
- The character is part of a secretive order who all wear black suits, blindfolds and a fez. Everyone else in the order wears black ties, but James wears a skinny black tie with white stripes. I am not a member of a secretive order of people who dress in any particular way, but the tie which most accurately represents my entire tie collection is a skinny black tie with white stripes
I wasn’t entirely convinced, but the name of the comic’s creator, Magnus Nørgaard, was familiar. In fact, a couple of weeks earlier, I’d received an email from Magnus which simply said:
Are you familiar with the computer game hero Commander Keen?
I meant to reply at the time, but I found the question so baffling that I didn’t know what to say. I emailed Magnus back to ask if the character was based on me and he replied:
As a matter of fact, he was. Everyone in the initiatic order was based on a real person, most of them on crazy people. You were the normal one. I was going to do a scene where you talk for a long time about your tie collection, but the whole plot thread was unexpectedly terminated.
So there you go, congratulations Morgan for correctly guessing that the James character was based on me, and thank you Magnus for including me in your comic.