I had to hold myself back from making a 50 shades joke so badly I feel chafing from the restraints.
But this isn't about what you think- i.e. using grayscale or black and white rather than colour in a webcomic.
Rather, this is about a webcomic's characters and their alignment on the ethical/virtue/affiliation spectrum that goes from the purest White (Jesus, Buddha, deities of virtue and Superman sometimes) to the darkest Black (the devil(s) of every franchise).
It is, rather reliably, said that if a character is designed as absolutely Good or absolutely Bad/villainous, they become boring, two-dimensional and way too archetypal to engage the audience emotionally and mentally.
While this is true, it isn't the whole story. Villains can be really villainous without any redeeming quality and still be humanized enough for the audience to engage with them and so can heroes- they can be very heroic without much in terms of drawbacks and still be very interesting and engaging.
The secret's in the sauce, not the meat of the matter:
The way to make a character interesting is to give him/her obstacles. They don't have to be personal demons of a tortured emo soul with a troubled past; they don't have to be stemming from personal flaws that would taint a hero's ‘shining armor’. They just need to be there, and the characters need to struggle to overcome them- have a real risk of failing.
Wiley E. Coyote is a pure villain in the Road Runner cartoon. He is basically a murderous unrepentant obsessive sadist (considering the ways he tries to kill the road runner, that would make it impossible for the coyote to eat him after). But we love him as an audience because of all the obstacles he faces, because of how amusing he is when he fails, because he never gives up and because he's pretty inventive and creative- all traits that don't detract one bit off his pure, moustache-twirling villainy.
In the same manner, Hades in Disney's Hercules is just as entertaining and probably the best part of that animated movie, for more or less the same reasons (he's also glib like a corporate lawyer). But there's not a single redeeming quality in him. He isn't any shade of grade at all, he's pure black, and that's okay! He's a very successful, engaging character that doesn't look 3D at all!
The same goes for heroes. They don't need to basically be anti-heroes to be legit, engaging and generally successful as purely heroic characters.
But that is for next week!
Tantz_Aerine at 12:00AM, April 14, 2018
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