This week, we asked PARDON MY PLANET cartoonist Vic Lee for some insights into his pointedly eccentric panel with its quirky characters and oft-twisted subject matter. We invited him to take a closer look at Mia Lee in particular.
DailyINK: Tell us a little bit about Mia: Who is she and what is her role in PARDON MY PLANET?
Vic: Truth is, I don’t write for my characters. I created the characters as archetypes to represent the dominant concepts I write for. In general, Jesse and Norris represent my wife and me. Other than that, I tend to write gags as they come to me and then figure out which character the gag fits best. I was a bartender for 10 years and heard a lot of regrettable lines and pick-up attempts by drunken patrons (not directed at me but between others). Mia tends to be the sober voice of honesty and reason in the relationship department, which is why she is never in one.
DailyINK: Has Mia been a part of PARDON MY PLANET since the beginning? When did she first appear?
Vic: Mia was one of the first characters I created for PMP in 2002. I knew the strip was going to have a lot of relationship exchange and she needed to be the outside onlooker, the voice of studied disinterest.
DailyINK: Since PARDON MY PLANET often casts characters in their worst light, what would you say Mia’s strengths are?
Vic: Mia’s strength is her ability to tell the truth as she sees it. She’s direct, hard hitting – she’s an eye opener.
DailyINK: How does Mia interact with the other characters in PARDON MY PLANET? What are her relationships to them? Opinions of them?
Vic: Mia has few friends but the ones she does have are friends for life. She relies on no one for her own well-being, but enjoys experiencing the drama of others vicariously through Jess and Chloe (who is married and has a child). When she’s gotten her dose of it, she can simply smile, lend a voice of outside observation, and go home.
DailyINK: A lot of Mia’s appearances revolve around dating and her love life. Does she have any goals or aspirations in life outside of her romantic ones?
Vic: Mia’s goals are simple but demanding – to be adaptable to any situation. Without having a deeply vested expectation in love, home, work, etc., she can flow the middle ground, she can speak truth as she sees it without having any concern of upsetting anyone who may hold the key to her next step of advancement. She is all she needs and to be flexible without getting ruffled gives her ultimate control of her life.
DailyINK: Do you have any secret tidbits or information about her that hasn’t shown up in the comic? What’s her background? What does she do all day?
Vic: Mia is Buddhist without claiming it. In her mind her background doesn’t matter because she is all about right now — in this moment. As for work, she works at a temp agency because it fits her lifestyle and fills her with a variety of experience and insight that adds to her goal of adaptability – which helps me write her into a variety of job experiences as well. Jess works for the same temp company for the same reason. Besides, having them work at the same agency helps me write more work-related gags!
DailyINK: How has Mia changed or developed over the years? Do you have insights into her character now that you didn’t have when she first appeared?
Vic: Since I don’t create recurring storylines I wouldn’t say her character has evolved as much as my gag writing has. She’s always been direct, but I think the issues I can involve her in are expanding as I search deeper concepts, such as gay rights or religion. She may become the new confidant of a lesbian character I’m considering introducing in the near future. Mia doesn’t go gay – she just helps bring a normalizing context to the new character and helps her become part of the group with Jesse and Chloe.