Ultimately, MAN IN THE MASK is about a man who lives his life, but wears a mask a night. That means, you have to account for that other time. And the trick is to make it as interesting as the masked part. To do so, you have to populate the world with REAL people. People that have just as much invested in their lives as your main character.
UNCLE FELIX and GWEN
Gwen enters Tommy’s life as he moves next to her during his first year or so of college in Millerton. While initially Gwen might have had her sights set on him, it develops into a sisterly relationship and she becomes quite protective of him. As the years go by, after Tommy leaves the college life, she stays, afraid of entering the real world. After Tommy starts wearing the mask, coincidentally, Gwen gets an offer from her uncle to move into his renovated apartment building and run the bookstore that’s at the bottom. She invites Tommy to move into his own place. Since it’s closer to the city, Tommy sees it as a sign for his new night life.
Now Uncle Felix is an interesting story. He left Millerton for many years traveling the world. When he came back, he found his old neighborhood of Colt Corner in disarray and full of crime. He moves back, buys a building and starts his own mission of bringing this section of Millerton back to health. Sometime after Tommy moves into the apartment, Felix finds out about Tommy’s night life and keeps the secret to himself. He realizes that Tommy and he have similar goals. The two become fast friends as they work to keep the neighborhood safe.
Originally, Uncle Felix was named Milo and he was going to be the owner and operator of the bookstore. But when Michael A. Baron gave me the Doughnuts story for my first issue, it just made sense to use this guy named Felix he put into the story as Gwen’s uncle. It would work for my intent for the uncle as trying to give Tommy as home area and give Felix his own very admirable mission. Truly a meant to happen moment. Uncle Felix may also resemble his source. Maybe. And trust me, when I start producing Uncle Felix merch, I will pass the share to Mike. I use the same honest law firm that the big two use. The reputable firm of Dewey, Cheatum and Howe are currently drawing up contracts.
Seriously though, I can’t stress how Important Uncle Felix and Gwen are to the overall world. I’m a firm believer if you have a masked man running around helping people, you have to have people to help. Too many comics have devolved into just focusing on the masked life and their other masked friends. I used to like to see Dick Grayson hang out with Wally West, but I didn’t want to see it every issue.
A lifelong comics fan, Mike W. Belcher is the writer/artist of MAN IN THE MASK. A story he's had with him for over 20 years.