Charley doesn’t have the same sense of personal space as the majority of humanity. This has rather a lot to do with the fact that she’s never been called on it.
When I developed the characters’ looks and tested things, I came up with a number of personality elements. It’s always been something that grows more stable as I write. I’m finding the visual medium changes things in unexpected ways. I knew Mira was relatively short and her height has an impact on her view of the world (the atmosphere is thicker down there). Putting her in full context with someone else really changes the way I see those characters relating to her.
It’s tempting to say, “That’s not the kind of people they characters are,” and adjust. That seems like a waste of potential and a cop out. Charley isn’t the kind of person who would, intentionally, be paternal towards someone shorter than her, but what she’d do while her mind is otherwise occupied is different. She’s not really aware that her actions in panel three are a bit patronizing, and frankly, neither is Mira. They’re both thinking of other things, and Mira’s used to being treated that way.
I don’t see this as an issue of right or wrong, really. Sometimes a person really cute like a button, and sometimes you want to express that. It’s just one of those things that breeds problems because the more you express it, the more you practice minimizing that person.
MIRA: What are you doin' down here, anyway?
CHARLEY: I was gonna ask you the same question, but less accusatory like, right?
MIRA: You lose. I got there first.
CHARLEY: I struck out at the club. Figured I could use some time to lick my wounds before I went home.
MIRA: Not enough privacy at home?
CHARLEY: Too much ice cream.
MIRA: You don't look like the strike out and ice cream type.
CHARLEY: Neither do you, missy.
MIRA: I-- Don't. I guess I'm still gettin' used to that. I'm probably not fit to judge.
CHARLEY: Probably not. You seem pretty straight.
CHARLEY: It's your turn. What brings you out here?
MIRA: I realized I'd never seen the ocean.
CHARLEY: In this light, you still haven't. I don't care how good your eyes are.
MIRA: I was goin' to get a much closer look before you came along.