Name: Harold Michael Wisley
Date of Birth: January 19th, 1935
Hometown: Carmarthen, Carmarthenshire, Wales
Height: 6ft 2in
Born in the rural valleys of western Wales, Harold Wisley has experienced a long and somewhat adventurous life filled with both moments of pride and moments of sorrow. Joining the RAF in 1953, Harry partook in both the Korean War and the Suez Crisis in Egypt, operating transport flights in and out of the war zone. His RAF career was quickly replaced by his move into commercial aviation during the late 1950’s, whereupon he married and raised twin boys; Jason and Terry. However, the increasing pressure of his job and longer hours put an irreparable strain on his marriage, with divorce eventually coming in 1981. Since then, Harry has devoted his life to the training of new pilots, sharing his experiences and bringing forward a new generation of aviators.
Harold Wisley, within the course of developing this series, has certainly evolved the most from its conception to its publishing. Originally, the role of Harry was to be much smaller but still have a fair amount of influence on Ebony and the relationship they shared. At first, the idea was that he’d be a tertiary character who appeared every now and again while Ebony was doing her flying lessons, but their friendship would have something of a father-daughter bond. Over time, however, I felt that Harry should have a bit more development, something to make him a bit more fleshed out as a character within the story and the effects he has on Ebony, thus I decided that he should inhabit a more significant role, evolving eventually into Renee’s new love.
The concept of two middle-aged people finding love again, be it after bereavement or divorce, is one that isn’t often explored in modern media; something I feel isn’t fair. Love isn’t just for the young and even though their relationship isn’t based on lots of kissing and sex it’s still present in sentiment, a comforting hand and a much needed presence in those lonely hours. I stand by my rule that seeing people fall in love can still be interesting without the ridiculous three-part structure of modern day romantic-comedies, watching as they develop their feelings for one another.
I also felt that it would lend itself to a few rather romantic little moments between Renee and Harry, as well as add extra dimensions to the characters instead of them just falling into the category of “Background” characters.
Harry’s design you may find surprising. A common theme among the characters within my series is that many of them are based on celebrities of either the past or present. On the off chance that my series was made into a film (wish upon a star Ruairidh), the voices of these characters would be performed by said celebrities. In this instance, Harry’s design is is based on famous Welsh actor Richard Burton in the way he looked circa 1978, and, if I could, he would have his voice too. This is due largely to the fact that Richard Burton had one of the best voices in cinematic history; I can seriously sit and listen to him speak for hours in his films and interviews. He had a command of both the English language and a scene that was captivating; when he started talking you couldn’t help but listen. Though I know Richard Burton died a very long time ago and his voice is irreplaceable, it’s still a nice thought in my mind that if the software was available to recreate the voices of deceased actors, singers or other celebrities, we could one day hear Richard Burton’s voice on the big screen once again. 🙂
By the way, the name Wisley is also an allusion to aviation history, that being a reference to the former British Aircraft Corporation (BAC) testing ground at Wisley Airfield in Surrey. This airfield was known for testing many British commercial airliners that were built at the nearby Weybridge factory, including the Vickers VC10, the BAC 1-11 and, on occasion, even Hawker Siddeley Tridents.
Harry’s backstory is based largely around another concept that isn’t often discussed, and that’s the sacrifice airline pilots have to make in order to convey hundreds of passengers across thousands of miles every working week. As Harry mentions in the story, being a pilot may be romanticized, but it is a very strenuous job with high amounts of responsibility and long hours. Pilots have to give up many things in their personal lives in order to ply their trade, their rigorous schedule often keeping them away from home for days at a time. While there are pilots with loving, stable families who are able to juggle the responsibilities of a job with their family life, many are sadly unable to find partners who can cope with the long hours spent away.
It was due to this somewhat cautionary mindset that my childhood aspirations to become a pilot eventually faded away. I’d always loved the idea of flying a commercial airliner, hence my fascination with both the planes and the job. However, when I did put the rigorous schedule and hard conditions into perspective, I felt I didn’t want to sacrifice my family life to fulfill a childhood dream. While my dreams of being a pilot have long since disappeared into my past, I hope that a comic series such as this can help convey the life I may have led if I’d become one; essentially living a part of myself through a comic (sounds like the Picture of Dorian Gray a little doesn’t it?).
However, as many of my piloting friends have told me, it’s still a job worth having, and one they would have gladly done again to experience everything they’d seen before. It has many rewards and some unforgettable moments which makes the job, even its heavy workload and long hours, completely worth it. 🙂