The Alabaster Sock

We Will Fight the Threat with Fighting

Posts Tagged ‘Tropes’

Posted by Matt on November 18, 2010

You know what archetype in fiction is really boring now? Serial killers.

A lot of creators just seem to think that making your antagonist a serial killer (or sometimes your protagonist) will automatically add weight. It’s especially bad in the case of antagonists, and ESPECIALLY in the case of antagonists in genre fiction. It doesn’t feel wrong for some crime fiction to still utilize them, although it’s still usually to the same effect: our bad guy is a BAD GUY holy shit (serial rapists are slowly replacing them, though). But in the case of something like a superhero comic? It feels overplayed and dull.

Every new villain now seems to be a serial killer, or almost one. Some older villains have been retroactively turned into serial killers. And you know what? In a genre that allows you to literally do anything, this just lacks scope. There as a time when mad scientists trying to steal all the diamonds in the city or take over space with robots was considered cliche. Now I want them back, because at least you didn’t automatically know what they were going to do.

That’s one of the problems I have with serial killers as antagonists: they are completely predictable. Let’s take a look at a prominent example: The Joker. The Joker started off as more of a traditional detective fiction killer, than drifted to become more or less a themed criminal, and today has basically gone through various phases of absolutely insanity (and overuse). It makes sense for the character to be made scary, because scary clowns are classic, and it’s a nice dynamic to have the good guy base his theme around something feared and his archenemy based on something benign. But while some may feel that The Joker is only scary if he’s a homicidal maniac who has caused more deaths than all the world wars combined, that’s not really true. In fact, what makes Joker scary is that he’s unpredictable. You never know if his gun is real, or whether he’ll rob all the party supplies stores in Gotham or fill the reservoir with poison. Only he gets his own jokes. Once you make him a crazy guy who will off you in seconds, he just loses what makes him frightening, and just turns him in another killer psycho in make up.

This is a problem that seems to have afflicted most of Batman’s villains, homogenizing them to the point of tedium. I was relieved to hear that the new Nolan Batman movie would not The Riddler, because I knew what direction they’d take him, being all dark and ‘realistic’ and all. The Riddler isn’t a villain I would see being a murderer at all; I think he works a lot better as a big-time thief. That may seem even smaller scale, but it’s good to pit the hero against different kinds of challenges, instead of just making them all essentially interchangeable, except maybe they use different kinds of knives or whatever.

All I’m asking for is a little variety in MOs, and therefor a little variety in the kinds of stories being told. Not everything needs to be gore porn, so you can stop with the serial killers now.

Advertisements

Posted in Comix, Nobody Cares, Observations | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Posted by Matt on December 23, 2009

Let’s talk Christmas.

In the last few years, I’ve enjoyed giving just as much as I’ve enjoyed receiving. It’s fun to think of something that my family would really like, and seeing their reactions. Especially when I do it on my own, and don’t just get them what they tell me to get them. I’d like to think I’d know what kinds of things they’d like whether or not they give me any direct ideas.

I also enjoy real surprises more. I can barely think of things to ask for anymore. I used to ask for a lot of games, but I’ve just been buying them on my own the last little while (not to mention that my taste has narrowed so significantly, there are usually less than a dozen games I’m actually interested in each year). Most of the stuff I’ve asked for are either practical (this year, I want new winter gloves) or stuff that I pretend is practical (various office supplies). This year, I tried to make the gift ideas better (they complained that I was hard to buy for last year) by including several things that I think are nice, but I would probably never buy for myself. Apparently, that didn’t fix things. Oh well.

***************

And now, some things in fiction that I like for some reason:

Fantasy meets Sci-Fi
I just find it awesome when wizards and dragons suddenly come face to face with robots and lasers. I think this can extend to many other things as well (cartoony meeting non-cartoony, for example) that feel like something really special, because they shouldn’t happen. Throwing together incongruous elements is a bad idea…unless you can think of a way to make them work. I try to do that (most of the time), and throwing together incongruous elements is pretty common in my ideas.

Good Guy Monsters
Because there’s nothing in any rule book for ideas that says weird looking things can’t be one of the ‘good guys’. Monster protagonists can often be more compelling, because unlike the standard human figure, you don’t automatically understand their situation. Yes, even humans on other planets or in some bizarre other-realm are still easier to relate to because they still look like you, sort of. I was reading an article about Avatar, and it asked whether the human protagonist was even necessary. The reasoning for him, it seems, was to act as the ‘audience relation character’, because people watching just can’t connect with tall blue cat people. Aside from the more troubling aspects of this concept (most ‘audience relation characters’ are white males), it also shows how a legitimate way of looking at fiction (studying the audience) could be turned into a marketing function.

But yeah, good guy monsters. Love ’em.

Separate or Conflicting Antagonists
Sure, the odd team-up could happen, but for whatever reason, if the thing has more than one villain, having them at odds rather than working with eachother is sort of interesting. It makes the world seem bigger, because it houses all these different personalities who don’t necessarily have anything to do with each other hanging around. And of course, different motivations leads to conflict, so it’s fun to compare and contrast how your antagonists think.

If you noticed, most of these ideas apply mainly to a very specific kind of genre and atmosphere, which I here dub ‘Nerd Fiction’. A lot only really applies in something long-form, episodic, and…well, Saturday morning. It is entirely possibly to fit some this stuff into something actually substantial, but mostly it’s fluff for a very juvenile kind of fiction. While I hope to have a wide variety of things to write about, I must admit that I’m still drawn the juvenile stuff. I’ll try to bring some intelligence to it, though! I promise!

Posted in In My Life, Nobody Cares, Writin' & Other Creativity | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »