I should like to make it plain that the Contessa is, of course, an entirely fictional character....
I can't claim full responsibility for her existence, since the truth is that she formed no part of my original concept! She was created as a response to two questions I'd been challenged to answer; firstly, how had a nineteenth-century outlaw acquired such surprising familiarity with Doctor Who and his history (a continuity error which had nothing to do with me...), and secondly — (a niggling point I'd introduced and carelessly overlooked) — why had he taken the time and trouble to shave and clean his nails when apparently on the run? Why would a smart appearance have been important? The answer to both questions turned out to be... a woman.
It is odd to remember, now, that when I first thought of her, the Contessa was a Countess — and a blonde Englishwoman to boot — a guest at the ranch of 'Captain' William French, an expatriate for whom Harvey Logan is known to have spent some time working while lying low in 1897-8. The best plan I could come up with was that this rich and eccentric female had to have been involved somehow with some adventure of the Doctor; and that Logan, hanging around late at night alone near the ranch house, had overheard enough to make it necessary for them to take him into their confidence.
Going much further down this path would, of course, have entailed working out exactly what the Doctor was doing in New Mexico in the 1890s — composing an entire Doctor Who novel as background, basically — and I have to say that I was profoundly grateful to Imran for coming up with a different solution: Vortex City, a pre-existing link between the Whoniverse and the 'Wild West'. The only small problem was that this setting had featured exclusively in a comic-strip story in the pages of Doctor Who Magazine... and I knew absolutely nothing about the existence of this comic strip whatsoever.
In the end, I simply wrote the place as generic Western, throwing in references to specific films as they flew past on the television — Lucy Mallory and daughter from Stagecoach, Ruby City from The Ballad of Little Jo, the jagged mountain above Two-Mile Pass from a film whose name I can't even remember... I did allow myself one 'in-joke' from my historical researches. Al Hainer, the dangerous driver with the high-bred horses, really lived, and his 'partner' was to be involved in a buckboard accident that totally demolished the (borrowed) vehicle; this is one of the earliest recorded incidents in the career of Hainer‘s young friend, a certain Butch Cassidy!
And that 'mad dreamer of a star gazer', suggested by the avocado troll as the source of Kid Curry's knowledge? She crossed over the half-formed shape of my English Countess... to become a stereotype that would fit this new setting. The lovely, dark-eyed Mexican lady bedecked in gold, her fingers on the pulse of every intrigue in town. Fortune-teller, story-teller. The Contessa.
From the start, she was intended as a Wizard of Oz figure, feigning magic with advanced technology, passing off aliens as demons. Later, she became explicitly a Time Lord fugitive, a former member of the Sisterhood of Karn. It wasn't really a problem. After all, if the Seventh Doctor could get away with a distinct Scots intonation, why shouldn't my own Gallifreyan exile sport a Spanish accent? :-)
Despite her beauty and her championing of creativity, the Contessa does, of course, have her less attractive traits. It is not fair, perhaps, to say that she is greedy — but her services are certainly expensive, and she lives her life as one great web of bargains, seizing every chance she can to haggle. Likewise, it is not precisely fair to call her a flirt — but she is not too scrupulous to be above using her charms to get what she wants. Ann Magill called her 'gypsy queen', and in fact that description, with its added overtones of fascination, exotica and dishonesty, is very close to the mark.
The 'cowboys-and-Indians' dialect I attributed to the fictional 'Kid Curry' is almost certainly a gross misrepresentation of the real Harvey Logan's speech. Whether or not he was really the scion of a good family fallen upon hard times, as Kerry Boren claims, the letter he quotes, written from Knoxville jail in 1902, shows the outlaw to be a reasonably articulate man:
"I will get out of this scrape yet. I will show these people that they are not dealing with a soft thing. They call me 'The Napoleon of Crime' and you should see how they flock when a trial is on.
"And when I get out of this, Ed, look out for me... I'll cut my way through Hell before they'll take me again.
"I am now waiting for my sentence. It will be a light one, for the people out here are with me, and I've got all sorts of friends. Well, goodbye, old friend, it won't be long before I'll be back in Montana and when I am, there'll be Hell to pay!"
The outlaw of the Hoedown is also an older — arguably wiser — and certainly more tired and desperate man, and in making my drawing of him I tried to establish this.
One unusual facet of the character, as he developed, was a distinctly surprising respect for female authority. He seems to accept female characters not only as equals but often as superiors — for example, when dealing with Mags, Kingpin and the Psychic Circus, he definitely seems to assume that Mags is the leader. The avocado troll is perhaps a special case; but he has no trouble, either, in accepting Sandra's assertion that they are equal partners during their ride to Vortex City. Evidently his extensive dealings with the Contessa have trained him well! It is interesting in this context, though, to study the body language revealed in the joint portrait with Annie Rogers (right). One does begin to wonder who wore the breeches in that relationship.
The nightmares were entirely my own invention. I don't presume to know how well Harvey Logan slept of nights — but I imagine he was troubled by conscience and by memory as little as he could help. However, I needed some pretext for this unlikely character to have been told stories of seeming wild fantasy by the Contessa... and the bad dreams just emerged more or less of their own accord even as I wrote.
The premise of the 1970s American television series Alias Smith & Jones was that the outlaw heroes, a pair of likeable rogues who have somehow managed never to kill anyone during all their daring exploits, have to demonstrate their good faith and earnest desire to reform by surviving a whole year without committing any further crimes. If they succeed in keeping up the 'good behaviour', the promise is that they will be considered for a formal pardon. Of course, during this period they continue to be pursued by the law for everything they have done previously....
Their names? Hannibal Heyes — and Kid Curry.
Despite the enormous seeming improbability of this coincidence in names, apparently it was a coincidence. There is no hint of suggestion that the character 'Kid Curry' was in any way, shape or form based on Harvey Logan — they have literally almost nothing in common. In fact, I came across an interesting article, entitled Alias Kid Curry, examining the relationship from the other side of the fence — it sets out to paint its subject as black as possible.
The choice of this name for one of the outlaw-heroes is, however, really very odd. It's an uncommon formation, for a start — fictional (and even real) outlaws seem to have used 'Kid' as a noun rather than as an adjective, yielding such personalities as the Cimarron Kid, the Oklahoma Kid, the Sundance Kid, the Mormon Kid, the Ringo Kid and Billy the Kid, not to mention Sid James in Carry on Cowboy as the infamous 'Rumpo Kid'! Thus, we not only have the question of how Harvey 'Curry' Logan ended up as 'Kid' Curry, but of how the script-writers for Alias Smith & Jones also came up with the same rather unusual appellation.... Someone surely must have heard it somewhere, subconsciously reproducing it when trying to think of a suitable 'outlaw name'.
I gather that videos of this show are not commercially available even in America; but a flavour of its style can be obtained by reading the humorous and warm-hearted fan-fiction of Carol Broyles, at http://asjfans.ashtonpress.net/. A comprehensive and readable FAQ (which succeeded in interesting me, despite the fact that I'm never likely to see an episode and that the character turned out to be totally irrelevant to my research!) can be found at http://www.personalephemera.com/alias/faq.html.
'The Day the Stories went Dark', the multi-author fiction that resulted from the Second Annual Pro-Fun Troll Hoedown, can be found in HTML format at http://ivory.vlexofree.com/HoedownII/.
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