Supporting Cast: Sophie and Gillian from PROS & CONS
Kieran Meehan’s PROS & CONS revolves around the overlapping professional lives of three men with very different careers. Samuel Rhodes, a high-powered defense lawyer, Stan Defoe, a tough, street-wise police detective, and Lyndon Peel, a psychiatrist. But the glue that holds these three unlikely acquaintances together is most definitely the women of the strip: Sophie Defoe and Gillian Jaggers.
Like the guys, these women could not have less in common! Sophie is the amiable, down-to-earth owner of Defoe’s Diner, while Gillian is the sharp, focused District Attorney. This may be why they find it so hard to get along. Unfortunately for them, Sophie is Stan’s little sister, while Gillian just happens to be his girlfriend. But Kieran points out that that’s not the source of the tension between these two women:
“Sophie and Gillian wouldn’t like one other under any circumstances. Their personalities are polar opposites. Stan is almost incidental to their mutual head butting but his presence in their lives makes it difficult for them to avoid each other. They make an effort to be civil, at least when Stan’s around, but they drop any pretence when he’s absent. Basically, neither of them wish to be seen by Stan as intolerant toward the other.”
In many ways, Stan acts as a device to bring Sophie and Gillian into situations where they must interact—which is very much Sophie’s role when it comes to the men. Sophie, Samuel, and Lyndon have all been friends since childhood, and all went to university together, while she and Stan are very close as siblings. Stan is ten years older than Sophie, so he has a very protective, big-brotherly attitude toward her, and they get along very well. “Sophie’s role as the proprietor of Defoe’s Diner is pivotal to the strip. I can’t imagine Stan socialising with Samuel or Lyndon if it wasn’t for the fact they were friends with his sister. And without her diner there’d be no place where all the characters could interact.”
Gillian, on the other hand, is much more of a newcomer to this little group, and while Stan and Sophie are from a very large family, and the children of a former cop, Gillian’s background is very different:
“Gillian is an only child. She was brought up by her father after her mother passed away. Although the father was somewhat aloof, he used his money and influence to ensure she would rise smoothly through the ranks of her chosen profession. Since then Gillian has been used to getting her own way. That may explain the lack of empathy she displays toward just about everyone.”
But that lack of empathy also helps drive the character interactions in the strip. Kieran says,
“Gillian is easier to write for. She doesn’t much care what she says or who she may offend. Sophie is more sympathetic and thoughtful so what ever she says has to be more considered. Also, there are a variety of locations where Gillian can make an appearance… the police station, the courts and the diner. Sophie’s only location is the diner and the other characters have to visit her there.”
But in spite of the vast differences between them, Sophie and Gillian do have some common ground:
“Sophie has a more entrepreneurial spirit. They’re both perfectionists but whereas Sophie finds it difficult to delegate, Gillian expects her subordinates to do exactly what they’re told, when they’re told.”
And more importantly, Kieran says, “They’re both hard working, career orientated, principled and independent minded,” which is why they’ve both found success in their chosen fields.