Tethered Character Development

Hey everyone!

I’ve been getting such amazing feedback from Tethered, and though it is on Hiatus for the time being, I wanted to almost reassure you all that I put in as much effort I can into creating a story that you feel is worth investing your time into!

I thought I’d talk a little about the amount of work and consideration that goes into my character development in comparison to what I reveal to my readers through the pages that I eventually upload, and why it is I do it this way.

I 1will use one example chapter, as it was the longest and has some of the most intricate interaction between characters.

I am going to talk about Michael and the community he is from.


We first met Michael when he was being chased down by a couple of thugs from the opposing group. The ‘Bruxy’s’, who are constantly battling them for supplies and territory. During this brief moment, we already see Mike acting fearless against the immediate danger that surrounds him.2

He is saved by Ed and instantly strike up a friendship due to Mike’s slightly childish black and white view of the world, at least, that is how I wanted readers to perceive it at the time. Later through the chapter however, Mike’s true feelings surface, but for now, I see this as a sense of retreat from reality. This is not meant as an escape from the downfall of society, considering he was too young to really remember anything before what we see presented as the current time within the comic. But the emotional reality he faces in daily life.

When they return to the community he is from, we are welcomed by an overprotective mother and a stern grandfather. His mother reveals a softer side towards the strangers who saved her son, which is backed by several other members. Though his grandfather holds no trust for them, despite the evidence, he allows them to stay, but only under heavy surveillance.

3Mike’s character also changes when in front of his mother and grandfather, he becomes more submissive, doing as he’s told, and leads Ed and Cara to their temporary place of stay.

Overwhelmed with the excitement and prospect of making new friends, he brushes off Cara’s bitter temperament, concluding in his own mind that she just needs to feel a sense of security before truly opening up.4

At the dinner table scene, Mike cannot contain his enthusiasm that these two new strangers might be superheroes, fuelled by the fact that Ed supposedly risked his life to save him earlier, and Cara’s want to remain anonymous to the group. Though in reality it was in Ed’s programming, and Cara doesn’t favour becoming close to people.

This does not bode well with his mother, it is clear that she feels unsettled by this attitude he has developed, and would prefer to suppress his growing imagination. This results in Mike leaving with his food in hand and his face flushed red from humiliation. To rub salt in the wound, his mother tells him not to do what he enjoys, read fictional stories.

5The world has grown harsh, and through the fight of survival, Robin and her father have had little time or patience for anything other than keeping the community going. This has reduced Michael’s’ childhood considerably, and in a desperation to find someone to vent out this need to extend it, he decides to disobey his mother and visit Ed.

His visit results in the discovery that Ed is a droid, before this happens however, we observe the familiar moment of Ed viewing a photo. This photo reveals him with a small boy, a moment that I wanted to emphasise on to show the importance of what comes next. I haven’t shown much of Ed’s past, apart from the fact that there was a boy, and he seems to be extremely attached to him, that accompanied with Michael’s need to find a friend was meant as an oasis in this dystopian story. They could provide something to each other that they have longed for.8

Both Ed and Mike end up disobeying what they are told, and enjoy each other’s company and reading comics together while everyone else is busy at dinner. There are two scenes where these two characters do this, and both are equally important in revealing not just fragments of their pasts, but also their views on what has happened, as well as hinting towards essential plot points that will come up later in the story.

7Michael’s Father is spoken of, he and his dad were extremely close, he would go on scavenger hunts and at times bring back comics for Mike. They would read them together and his dad would tell him stories of what it was like before the war. It devastated Mike when they found out that his dad had disappeared, and it pushed his mother into depression. Michael was left with no one but his grandfather at the time, who is strict and cold because of what the community had been through already to be what they are now.

The gifts his father gave him was all he had left of him and the time they shared, and Mike has tried with all his might to keep that alive. Ed gave that 6to him, and for that, Michael begins to love him.

His mother, Robin, is very different to how she was when his father was around. Where the comics provide comfort to Mike, they cause her pain. It reminds her too much of what she has lost, and at times, even her own son has become a symbol of the times she shared with her husband. Though she loves her son, she is unintentionally harsher to him, a symptom of bottling up her emotions for far too long.

It is not until the battle occurs does she realise she still has so much to lose. Robin’s panic to find her son leaves her badly injured, and then she is held back to witness her father’s execution.  This is another moment where I hint towards a past that many of these characters shared.

I make it clear that the two leaders of the opposing communities know each other, I leave this vague, but still open for readers to speculate what the backstory may be from the scattered clues I included within the chapter.

9There is an obvious scar stretching across Ben’s face, but there are also many emotional scars that is only evident within his acidic attitude towards others. I won’t go into too much detail, but long ago, Ben and Gareth were close friends, they worked together before the war broke out. Both are strong minded and strong willed, so when the war finally came to them they knew they had to work together to survive. The community that they built flourished, accompanied by soldiers that had no more directives, no places to go, they took them in to help protect the people they saved.10

However, after a year things started to get tougher, and it was evident that Ben and Gareth were not on the same page. Ben refused to leave anyone to suffer, whereas Gareth only seeks for ‘survival of the fittest’. In an attempt to get rid of Ben, Gareth created fire while Ben was sleeping, hoping that he would perish in the flames. Ben lost his wife and was permanently scarred. Knowing the culprit, he rallied people together in a rage, and a bloody fight broke out, dividing those who followed Gareth to those who followed Ben. At the time more people backed Ben, and they were able to fend off and push out Gareth and his people from the safety of the community.

With the weight of the past reheating the resentment they have towards each other, Gareth has no issues killing Ben, and establishing his status as ‘Alpha’. Ed however reveals himself to stop the execution from going ahead, forcing Cara to take action and eliminate Gareth.

11As the community stand and observe this new twist, a cry for help is heard, distracting them from the current situation and rushing to aid them. They find Anna and her husband, she is heavily pregnant but wounded from a stray bullet. Ben is left with no choice but to accept Ed’s medical help to save the mother and her unborn child, but he makes it clear that they are going to keep the droid, and Cara will simply have to deal with it.12

Standing nearby, Michael keeps watch, stating his distaste towards his grandfather’s decisions, but after what they have all been through, the last thing Ben wants to consider right now, is the thoughts of a child.

There is a lot of tension between all characters now, and Mike’s growing frustration at being pushed aside strengthens. An argument breaks out between Cara and Ben about the fate of Ed, and it is at this point Mike cannot take anymore.

13Through his eyes, the situation is ridiculous, and all he is reminded of was how his father was taken from him. Though he would love for Ed to remain with him at the community, he knew Ed wasn’t safe there, and needed to continue on his journey with Cara. He also takes this opportunity to convey his feelings about how he is treated, and that just because he is young, doesn’t mean he is completely naive to what is happening.14

He states “Hasn’t this war taken enough from all of us already?!” . It is not fully stated in the comic, but he refers to the death of his grandmother and the disappearance of his father, as well as the loss his father spoke about during the first stages of the war. The thought that his own family would impose this onto someone else when they didn’t have to upset and infuriated him.

15With the realisation that Mike absorbs more of their actions than they had taken into consideration, his mother speaks out to her father, admitting that her son may be right. Though Ben will never admit to it, he agrees and leaves them.

As they leave, Mike gifts Ed with some of his comics, a gift that Ed will never take for granted, knowing how much these items mean to him. Before Ed departs, he returns the favour by giving Robin a bit of advice to actually talk to her son. There is more to his words than just parental advice, but for16 now he hopes to make her realise that kids don’t stay young forever, and before you know it, that time has come and gone.

Through the recent events, Robin has opened up more, seeing that there is more to life than just survival now. She sees the values that Ed can provide, that he isn’t a normal droid, this is her parting gift to the pair as they leave. She speaks her mind about Ed to Cara, secretly hoping that they succeed in their journey. The last shot we see is Cara looking at Ed, contemplating his value, not for his medical functions, but almost as a ‘person’.


So that concludes my post, I hope it sheds light onto the way that I work, and how I tackle breathing life into my characters. I personally find it important to put thought into the life of each character. The way that I develop story is by bringing the characters to life in my own mind, and though this may sound crazy, I try and hold conversations with them, to try and work out the sort of person they are! I chose to not show all this information in the comic for a couple of reasons – one, that it’s not relevant for moving the story forward, and two, just in case I do eventually get round to creating short comics about the life of these background characters! I would love the deepen the Tethered universe one day! If I can’t draw the comics, then perhaps I will at least write short stories!


I hope you enjoyed my write-up! All the best, and thank you for reading!

Tasha <3~