Many things in this strip are planned well in advance and one of those things was the reveal of Jen Rose being a Violist. This probably dates back six to eight years so bear with me as I try to explain the line of thought.

I knew she was a talented musician but I also knew she didn’t want to display those talents and the question became why. Pop stars who can play a modicum of piano will display that medioc-sorry-modicum at the drop of a hat so why would Jen hide her talent and the instrument she played?

The obvious answer was a wind instrument but even if she played a ‘funny’ instrument like a tuba she could have focused her attention on a similar instrument that utilized the same mechanics (saxophone, flute, whatever) but that didn’t feel right. Partly because I was already planning on using that gag for Rick (the flugelhorn). Yes, the whole point was to draw a parallel between them but similar is better than the same.

Nothing felt right because there is no reason to hide any extremely high level of ability.

But then a nugget floated up out of my subconscious. Something my music teacher told me about in grade three or four when she was introducing us to the various instruments. That the Viola is lower than the Violin but played in exactly the same manner yet is made fun of the most by those in the orchestra. That made no sense to me so I asked about it and I pushed a bit. She seemed a bit embarrassed by it but it wasn’t what she believed just what she’d been told.

That stuck with me. Why? Maybe because I was the brunt of most of the jokes in my class (be the youngest, be one of the smallest, be one of the smartest, see how that works out for you) but also because it played to my preferences.

Personally, as a fan of country music, I’ve always liked hearing the fiddle in a song, but at the same time felt it was too high. Too sprightly. If one goes over the line it becomes physically painful to listen to. So a lower instrument that could be played in the exact manner as a fiddle appealed to me.

But then the question became could a Viola be used in popular music? Back when I first came up with that question there was no way to check but with the internet exploding with oddness and creativity there was an easy answer when I saw a guy on YouTube called Jeremy Green. A Violist who did Viola-centric versions of pop hits.

The Viola popped. Worked beautifully. Sounded great. Enough of a unique sound to stand out but familiar enough that it wasn’t jarring at all (I listen to a lot of Mongolian folk metal and some of those instruments can stand out in a bad way due to my initial unfamiliarity to them).

A little fact. A little nugget. Crossed with story elements. Subconscious mind. Half remembered arguments. A nagging feeling. And then it all comes together and feels right. One of the best things about doing this strip and doing anything creative.

This may have been a bit pedantic but I thought some might find a look into my process interesting.

People, including other writers, have told me I’m weird because I can process and remember and work through how an idea originated, changed, adapted, and then fit but I don’t mind being weird.

And some of these deep dives into my memory can be downright fun.

Thanks for reading,

Steve