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Casting Characters in Comics - 123

Banes at 12:00AM, Aug. 2, 2018

Creating a Cast - in 1-2-3

One of the challenges…and maybe one of the greatest pleasures…of creating a series is populating it with a cast of heroes. I know I spend many weeks or months tinkering with characters and deciding who they're going to be. …And how many heroes will be needed.

The Power of ONE

A single protagonist is likely needs to be created with his or her plot solidly in mind. With their own wants and needs, wounds and flaws in the forefront, they probably need to be designed to fit a given story perfectly. Of course, ‘fitting the plot perfectly’ might entail making them the LAST person who would want to experience that story. The perfect fish out of water.

Examples: Dexter, Superman, Harry Dresden, Hercule Poirot, Kill Bill, The Hulk…

Comics on the Duck: The Godstrain and Godstrands, Barbarian Adventure, Inappropriate Irving, The Epic of Blitzov, Pinky TA

Just the Two of Us

For creators, a two protagonist series actually seems a more natural starting point than one. At least to me. It's a handy way to get writing, to have two contrasting types of people talking to each other. More than that, it's very useful as a tool to deliver exposition, express character, and have conflict.

Of course, other characters can serve those functions without being co-protagonists, but a “two hander” can have its own built in drama, before the plot even takes shape!

Examples: Hart to Hart, Simon & Simon, Bosom Buddies (Oh yeah, I'm kickin' it old school, now!), Sherlock, The X-Files, Supernatural, Bones, The Odd Couple, Clerks, Back to the Future, and on and on and on…

Comics on the Duck: Ying and Yan, Death P0rn, Minion.

You and Me and the Devil Makes Three

In terms of that “built in drama and conflict” thing, the trio can be even better.

There can have two extremes…the Id and Superego, with a negotiator “Ego” in between, and an increasing flexibility in storytelling, whether it's the three bumping heads with one another, or having the characters spreading out into separate adventures that can be edited to their most exciting and cliff-hangery.

The classic trio is probably Kirk, Spock and Bones from Star Trek, where one is all logic, one is all emotion, and the Captain is somewhere in between.

Then you have your Three Stooges group, with the grumpy “leader”, the “fool” and the…the… “Larry” ?

The director Ivan Reitman talked about his template of “The Brain, the Heart, and the Mouth” in his comedic groupings:

Examples: Star Trek, Star Wars, Ghostbusters, The Three Amigos, Dr. Katz, Two and a Half Men.

Comics on the Duck: Leon, Bottomless Waitress

What are some of your favorite Loners, Duos and Trios? How do you create your casts?

Happy Thursday to you…or both of you…or all of you!




Ozoneocean at 8:55PM, Aug. 2, 2018

A competent, badarse, everyman survivoir who's constantly thrown up against challenges that are alien to him. He's always the absolute outsider.

Ozoneocean at 8:52PM, Aug. 2, 2018

Pinky TA started out with a single protagonist and then expanded a little :D This is an interesting topic... Mad Max was typically a single protagonist story. For this reason mainly I would not consider Fury Road to be a "Mad Max" film. It's an amazing movie and a lot better than all the Mad Max movies before it in all ways, but I would consider it to be its own new and better thing, because "Mad Max" was defined by that one person against the madness of the world he's cast against, not by the world or the character.

Avart at 11:32AM, Aug. 2, 2018

My comic enters in "Seinen" manga category. That means that there's a main character, but the secondary characters have a deep development and often are way too complex (sometimes, more than the main one). Right now I have a little cast, but I don't expect to have more than 10-12 characters.

bravo1102 at 9:01AM, Aug. 2, 2018

Ironscarf inadvertently hit on why Zeppo was gone after the first few movies. Originally they were a variety act so you needed Zeppo and Gummo. Other great duos are Abbot and Costello, Burns and Allen, Laurel and Hardy. Irony was that the "dumb" one was often the genius behind the gags. Even Charlie Chaplin though a solo act often needed a straight man to play off of. I love that old comedy. Best buddy pictures ever: Hope and Crosby in the road pictures. Thanks for the memories.

Ironscarf at 7:48AM, Aug. 2, 2018

My favourite trio has to be the Marx Brothers. Wisecracking Groucho sees himself as the urbane brains of the bunch, but he's constantly outwitted by trickster Chico. Harpo is definitely the Id and what an Id he is. Total inspired anarchy, a supernatural cross between chaotic demon and harp plucking angel. Reginald Parr and Windsock began life as a duo. They popped into my head fully formed when I was half way up a loft ladder, names and all, so I'd have to say they came from the attic?

Abt_Nihil at 7:35AM, Aug. 2, 2018

I think the typical way I write comics is with two protagonists, one of them idealized and another for identification. I wrote A.D 1997, signifikat and Holon that way. (In each case, the female character is is the idealized one and the male for identification... but that's an artifact hailing from my being male and idealizing females, I guess...) The only exception is Bombshell, whose titular character basically combines both types. The other characters I created for Heroes Alliance break that mould, but they don't have their own comics, so I guess that kind of decision goes back to the narrative tropes I gravitate to when casting characters for their own comics, not for ensemble type comics.

KimLuster at 5:01AM, Aug. 2, 2018

How do you keep coming up with such wonderful articles!! I can think of several shows and comics, but I also instantly thought of music groups, and how this dynamic can work there too! Singles: Michael Jackson, Elvis..., Duets: Hall and Oates, Air Supply, Simon and Garfunkel..., Trios: Bee Gees, Nirvana...

mks_monsters at 4:56AM, Aug. 2, 2018

Well, I obviously have a duo who each have their own crowds for now.

usedbooks at 3:35AM, Aug. 2, 2018

I love "buddy cop" dynamics and also stories starring a pair of siblings or a married couple. Those are my favorites. Used Books started with a trio dynamic. I had two very different friends (Kaida and Yuki), basically opposites and decided I needed a grounding element (Seiko) to view the relationship from the outside. I love creating characters so much, that my stories usually end up as ensembles, and while two or three main protagonists keep it all together, many secondary characters end up grabbing spotlight (which is more like Star Trek TNG, I guess).

bravo1102 at 2:25AM, Aug. 2, 2018

The "Larry" conumdrum led to a Pinky and the Brain episode called Pinky and the Brain and Larry where a white lab mouse version of Larry is added to the famous duo. Larry is often considered the mouth from Reitman's trio. Kirk was also the mouth. Consider how many times Kirk's fast talking saved the trio. And of course mentioning Star Wars' trio opens up the other trio character trope : the romantic triangle.( which already had its news feature)

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