Chocolate and Basil greet me as I show up to the appointment. No, I mean Sass and Stranglehold, whatever, it’s fine, I’m definitely paying attention to my teammates. Anyway, the two dogs rush up to me (aww, Chocolate missed me! Aww, Bas is more excitable than earlier!) and lick my hands (one hand each), and it’s all very gooey and mildly disgusting. I love dogs.
My teammates, who are the ones I have the appointment with, not the dogs, keep trying to say something to me, but there are dogs instead.
“No, it’s fine,” the artist says, “he needs a quirk, right? His quirk is that all the dogs love him. All of them. In the entire world.”
“Yes,” I say, “I love all the dogs in the entire world. Wait, what?”
He laughs at me. “Your, uh, subplots, I guess, is the closest thing.”
“Oh,” I say, “sure, sounds good.”
“Do you even read the comic, Teke?” Stranglehold asks me.
“No,” I say, completely honestly. Then, because I’m in front of the artist, “I mean, here and there, but it toes the line a little hard for the communities I spend time in.”
The artist snorts. “It’s official stuff, there’s only so much we can say.”
“Well, as long as it’s not harmful to say he likes dogs,” Sass says, shrugging.
“Probably not,” the artist says. “Do you have a dog? Just out of curiosity.”
“No,” I tell him, “can’t. Allergies.”
He looks dubiously at two of my several new best friends.
“Not my allergies,” I clarify, “I don’t live alone.”
“Okay, well, that works out nicely,” he says, “let’s get you a dog. What kind?”
“Poodle,” I say, immediately.
He looks up. “What?”
“Poodle,” I repeat. “Everyone’s used to them being clipped and dyed in interesting patterns, so my poodle sidekick can look exactly like my suit.”
“Oh my god, that’s brilliant,” Stranglehold says.
“This is so clearly not the first time he’s thought of this,” Sass says.
Whatever. People have daydreams.
“That will work amazingly,” the artist says. “I mean, we may have to hire someone to design a poodle for some publicity shots – you okay with that?”
“Uh,” I say, “absolutely, unequivocally, yes, how would I not be?”
“Great,” the artist says, “I’ll do some mockups later, you can look them over. May have to rent a poodle for interviews, now that I think about it. It’ll go over. We’ll get approval first, of course.”
“Sure,” I say, “do a lot of people read these for the pets, or?”
Sass laughs. “So far, I’m the only one with animal sidekicks. I’ve apparently gained the power of communicating with cats or something? I have a dozen of them. They follow me.”
“I think those are former agents under a magical curse or something,” the artist says, “sorry, that was the last guy, I’m trying to mostly leave out magic.”
“That makes sense,” I say, even though it really, really, doesn’t.
He holds up a masterful sketch of a poodle. And I do mean masterful. This is – how quickly did he do this? And it’s clearly just a sketch, I mean, it’s not shaded or anything, but it’s – really fucking detailed? I’m impressed. I mean, I know we get about a page a day done, but I’m really impressed by the whole thing.
Oh my god, the colors though. It matches my suit exactly. I’m now even more excited for this hypothetical promotional photoshoot with this imaginary poodle, because I want to see this done in real life, it’s amazing. Poodles are amazing. I’m going to have to start reading the comic, probably.
My suit looks weirdly good on a dog?
Anyway, I think a lot of this hairstyle wouldn’t work on a poodle in real life, because obviously a lot of it is just in the drawing method, to stylize me and the poodle like each other, but still. I want to see this purple poodle with these blue accents, amazing.
“What about you?” the artist asks.
“What about me?” I ask back.
The artist shows me a sketch, not nearly as much detail as the poodle, but stylized the same way. I think they’ll look good together.
“Uh,” I say, “yes?”
The artist laughs. “No, I mean, are there any changes you’d like me to get in there?”
I shrug at him.
“Obviously this is going through vetting before I put it on the page,” he tells me, “but if there’s anything you’d like, you know, make the character better, tell me now.”
I hold out my boot for him to see, “make it cooler.”
He frowns at it a second, then fiddles the sketch.
I look it over. “No, what I meant was, the boots are always too practical, I mean, obviously, give it some sort of – I don’t know. Make it a cowboy boot or something.”
He considers it. “Okay, I’ll give it a shot. Let you know what upstairs comes up with.”
“Maybe make my hair a little bigger,” I add.
“Hmm?” he says, glancing up, “muscles bigger?”
“What? No,” I say, flexing self-consciously, “why, should they be?”
“Probably not,” the artist says, “we like to do the buff thing for the white hats. Support positions tend to be stylized smaller. Tekes usually go kind of lanky.”
I look down at myself. Lanky’s fine. I mean, I don’t know the comic. “Sure,” I say. “No, the hair. I keep it short. Make it a little longer?”
“But same style?” the artist says, peering at my hair.
“Yeah,” I say, “just a little bit longer.”
I mean, hey, if we’re putting me in a comic, I may as well have a nice haircut. Pretend me has a great poodle and probably much better powers (and social life) and fights – last I checked space monsters? I may as well be more capable of maintaining more complicated hair.
“Ooh,” Sass says, “don’t forget the sunglasses.”
I stare at her long enough that the dogs get upset with me.
Stranglehold grins at me. “The whole team wears sunglasses. For…I don’t know. Reasons?”
“Uh-huh,” I say, “and how prominently am I going to figure in this whole thing?”
Sass huffs. “It’s not a big deal, Teke, we only show up at random, anyway.”
“That’s why we have to all wear the same sunglasses,” Stranglehold adds. “I think it’s the only way the artists can keep track of us.”
“Not the readers?” I ask.
Sass laughs. “You’re obviously not familiar with our reader base.”