Character Sketch – The Tear Collector

‘nother comic book charcter

I’m not sure exactly what storyline this character is part of. Maybe all of them.

Sort of a Victorian style steampunk scientist. Thin and lean, short/medium height. Always dapper. Much like a field botanist, or a bug collector… always talking about specimens. Obsessive categorization system. Always accompanied by the delicate tinkle of his tiny glass specimen bottles.

Looks and interacts as a normal human person, but can walk through the folds of space and time. He’s always there. Every little moment where a tear is shed. Stepping into the moment at just the right instant to catch the falling tears, and back out again before anyone realizes he was even there. He only needs a drop.

He has little antenna that “sniff” for emotion. Tell him where the moments are. They are usually covered by his bowler hat (to dampen the senses, otherwise he would be constantly overwhelmed with feelings). He takes the hat off to “hunt”, and sniff for the direction he goes in. He can sniff emotions the way we sniff smells, with delicate sensitivity, and can predict with a high level of specifics exactly what kind of emotions he is smelling.

Much like a wine maker sniffs an aged wine and remembers small details of the year in which it was bottled, the Tear Collector sniffs the tears he has collected in tiny bottles and remembers precious details of the emotions and the context of the events from which they came.

He has a laboratory, exists outside of time and space. Maybe sort of an underground hole carved out of a subway system? Maybe like a room in a termite colony? Maybe like a penthouse office in a fancy sky scraper? All of these things at the same time…

Images by Rose Lyne-Fisher, the real-life tear collector.

In his laboratory, he spends time obsessively categorizing and sorting his tears. Organizing them by date, and the hierarchy of the spectrum of emotion… your basic happy-sad-mad-joyful, broken down into more specific identifications. Categorized by relation and reaction to major cultural/historical events, categorized by context…

He also makes microscope images of the tears (by letting the water evaporate, leaving a crystalline salt structure), and includes this in the categorization system. This process is a way of making emotions visible, and is the main reason for collecting the tears. He is a researcher, and he is collecting the images, creating flip-books, film reels, creating a visible spectrum of human emotions. Its also about public health, a way of gaging the emotional status, health and well-being of general population. Healthy tears have a certain aesthetic to them… unhealthy tears look like pollution.

He starts out relatively invisible to people. But more and more, over time, people learn to see him more. He develops relationships with people who know who he is, what his work is. Relationships with human scientific communities. The human scientists in this version of reality have no issues with fairies. They are simply a known part of reality. Many of the scientists are fascinated by the energetic mechanics of how the fairy walks between the folds of space time, but the Tear Collector is obsessively focused on their work and has no time or patience to teach these humans how to do things that he can do as a matter of course.

He feels that the information contained in the data he has collected is vitally important to the scientific community, to public health in general, and to environmental health with regards to humans’ relationship with their environment. He develops relationships and networks among human allies who understand his urgency.

In general, his personality is calm and dapper, with a very dry (yet gleefull) sarcasm. He is flamboyant and theatrical. There is something vaguely insect-like about him, what with his antenna and his ant-colony laboratory, and his single-minded focus on his work. He’s not exactly obsessive the way we might think of an OCD person. He doesn’t flip out if his systems get disturbed (well he might, but he is absolutely unapologetic and un-self conscious about it. He just goes about putting things back in order, sniffing specimens and mumbling to himself in a sort of quiet contentment. He has the distinct sort of nerdy glee that any scientist might have who has discovered large scope of previously unobserved data and who dives into the work of observing and understanding the date with unrestrained glee.

If you happen to meet him in the course of your travels, or if you ran across him at a party, he would be that quiet guy who doesn’t talk much, until someone asks him how his research is going, and then you can’t get him to shut up.

If he’s at a party, being fully present as himself, and some stirring emotion happens to make someone cry, he will not hesitate to pull out a glass bottle and collect a specimen. This is potentially disturbing to the person feeling the emotion, but he’s generally so smooth about it that people hardly notice. What they do notice – the thing that breaks the continuity of the moment – is that he then walks away slowly, staring at the bottle, sniffing with his antenna, muttering to himself in the language of his precious categorization system.

Sometimes he makes aesthetic pronouncements about the tear (about the emotions). “Mmm, standard tears of joy, yes, with a splash of relief, and a core of personal vindication…” These pronouncements can be particularly disturbing and/or valuable to the people, as it is either information that they don’t want to acknowledge, or information about themselves that they didn’t realize and want to understand.

I don’t know if this character has his own storyline. I think maybe he just pops in and out of other storylines, his story ark woven in bits and pieces throughout other stories. Also, I think maybe he is a trans man. With boobs.

Here’s the real-life tear collector:


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