Dustin is very, very near and dear to my heart. I’ve briefly discussed his origins as a character both here and here on the actual Londinium blog, but I’m pretty sure neither of those posts mentions how I got the idea for him.
It’s a stupid story, but I’ll be quick. I was babysitting the kids around the corner. They were watching the Disney Channel and That’s So Raven was on. The episode concerned a play about climbing boys (children forced by master chimney sweeps to physically climb up the flues to clean them, a practice fortunately abolished by the middle of the 19th century). This being December 2004, a commercial soon followed for the 40th anniversary DVD release of Mary Poppins.
Dustin existed by the end of the night.
He was originally much more interested in the comic singing aspects of music hall, but sooner or later my brain kicked in and let him be a piano player. Since 2007, he’s been working as a sweep during the day and a piano player in a pub by night (until he meets Basil, anyway). Also since 2007, his characterization has been primarily inspired by Dudley Moore. They’re even the same height (5’2”).
I should note that once upon a time, Dustin was actually 5’8”. He shrunk.
Londinium as an entity was meant at one point to be poignant and meaningful. As a sophomore in high school I genuinely believed I could write something that was powerful. I soon realized it wasn’t working and reverted to my usual satirical writing style, and Londinium became the comedy it is now.
This article on the Londinium blog details the ‘symbol’ Dustin was intended to be initially because I was stupid and fifteen years old.
I don’t think I’ve put more effort into any other characters than Dustin, Ells and Basil, seriously. Those three are the ones who mean the most to me, and I hope it shows.