FUN FLAG FACTS: This flag is partly inspired by the flag that Rwanda had from 1961-2001, when someone realized their red-yellow-green design was completely identical to the flag of Guinea and slapped an R on it to distinguish it. Historical precedent or no, Phil was enraged when I suggested the design: why wasn’t I taking this nation that Sundar founded more seriously? (sigh) Good job developing it, John.

Phil’s wanted this scene to go on another page, with Sundar delivering oceans of backstory in a wall of text to explain how he went from desperate child-seller to founder of a nation. I put my foot down on that one; you can only do so much “ironic invoking of a cliche” before you slip into just doing the cliche, and withholding the story of his journey gave him some secrets. You’ll get the essence of what happened to him in the next chapter.

I think one of the small things that sustained my partnership with Phil during this trying time was that Sundar’s a fun, funny dude to write. No matter how many drafts we took him through, there he was, grinning back at us.

There’s something about unearned confidence that really works in certain characters, even though such confidence can be disastrous in real life. (Especially when it comes to running a nation, cough, cough.) I think it’s because we can enjoy identifying with the character and feeling the confidence we wish we had in our own lives, and then we can switch to schadenfreude when said character’s actions blow up in their faces. Not very nice of us, but hey, they’re not real, their feelings won’t be hurt.