No matter what the genre, plot and general tone of your comic, death always is absolute.
Or alternatively, death is used as a very efficient comedy device (if anyone remembers the numerous ways Dirk dies in Dragon’s Layer). Unsurprisingly so, I think, since real comedy is based on tragedy.
But comedy aside, death is never a trifle.
Except in mainstream comics, where characters that die just take a sabbatical and then return.
Which really feels to me that handling the death of a character in such a manner, trivializes the idea of character death itself.
It also sometimes feels like the writers use death as a gimmick because they can’t think of anything else to hold their audience with, or up the drama or create controversy over their title.
But even when death is kept permanent, it is easy to take away from the awe it inspires in a narrative, when it is used too much with ways that don’t offer anything to the plot, except a gratuitous bodycount or an excuse for splatter and gore (granted, that usually is the point with gratuitous body counts). I can’t think of a webcomic example, but off-screen summary deaths usually take away the meaningfulness of that character’s death and it comes across to the audience like the character was just thrown away (e.g. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows).
Often it’s considered ballsy to kill off a character, so writers might feel obliged to do it to give their story more weight or importance as a ‘no nonsense’ tale. I believe that is a trap that can end up trivializing death as I mentioned above.
On the other hand, a strategic, choice usage of death in a story (whether it is a single death or tens of them, like in Game of Thrones) can create a constant tension and engagement in the audience, in the ‘anyone-can-die’ principle that doesn’t allow the reader to relax and feel safe about any character he/she may be rooting for.
So what do you think? Have you had any characters die in your story? How do you utilize death and dying if at all? And if you have up to now steered away from it, would you consider using it and how?
Tantz_Aerine at 12:00AM, Nov. 12, 2016
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