One of the great things about the original Star Wars movies was the strong sense of a grand, adventurous, and terrible history before the movie started. So much is hinted at through Obi Wan Kenobi about the Jedi Knights, Anakin Skywalker, great friendships, laser swords, and terrible war and loss.
That stuff captured my imagination so much, back in the day. And one of my favorite parts of the original movie is how much stuff is going on with Alec Guiness' face in all of his scenes. The guy was an incredible actor. I don't know how much of the history was given to him other than what he says in the script…I suspect not much. But his face tells a whole story that we didn't see (well, we saw it later in the prequels of course).
The small smile he gives to Darth Vader during their duel as Luke and friends make their escape and Kenobi allows himself to be cut down is so compelling. There's so much going on there.
It's the idea of history in a story. Stuff we never see, but is hinted at.
Breaking Bad had it, too. We are eventually given a couple flashbacks of a younger, happier Walter White, but how he left his promising career and lost his way is either only hinted at or told from Walt's bitter point of view (and that show was sophisticated enough that one character's memory/pov on their own past is not objective - just like in real life).
I really, really love stories that begin with a history behind them. A history that doesn't have to be spelled out completely.
In my own comic, Typical Strange, I took pains to create a bit of history. Nothing too elaborate, but enough to make me feel good about it. I knew the store had a previous manager who left the store and hated the place, and that Penelope had had some unusual adventures before returning to her brother and friends.
When the story begins, there was stuff we didn't see. And those elements have come back to effect the characters in ways that were quite satisfying (to me, at least). I have dropped some subtle hints about the characters' families and stuff here and there, too, and am excited to see those things come to fruition.
A story that feels like there was something happening before we started reading or watching is almost crucial, actually. It leads to characters that feel more real, and a world that feels ‘lived in’.
What do you think? Is establishing a reality “before the beginning” important in your comics? Do you appreciate that sort of thing and miss it when it's not there?
Banes at 12:00AM, Sept. 27, 2018
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