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Tantz_Aerine at 12:00AM, March 9, 2024

Money is the biggest generalized conditioned reinforcer or, in layman's terms, something that makes you do things because you've learned it's going to give you the good times. Whatever those good times are for you.

That's how money has always made the world go round since the first time it was invented. Everything in societies revolves around that symbol that guarantees you food, shelter, services, status, acceptance, even sex.

I'm not going to preach today about how money is the bane of humanity's existence or anything- but what I am interested in exploring is how often it's absent or handwaved away in creative works. For example, in Friends you have a bunch of single adults rooming together because they can't afford housing otherwise, but their outfits keep changing, are always new, and always top notch. How can they afford that?

Or characters go on trips or buy stuff or go on adventures without any explanation on how they can afford such things - a little bit how some main characters that aren't orphans have the world's most negligent parents, or the adults send them off into danger while they sit back and watch.

And that's fine! Suspension of disbelief is easy when that happens.

On the other hand, some stories use money as a legit motivator and obstacle for the characters.

This gif is from the movie Take the Lead. If you know you know, etc.

Still others, unobstructed access to anything (material) a character wants is just explained away as “they're filthy rich”, and that's the end of it.

I would put a Batman gif but that would be boring.

My point is that money and currency and how it affects your story is an interesting set of decisions. In my opinion, it's good to at least make some token explanation of how your characters can (or can't) afford to do what they do. Even better if normal money issues are woven into the story at least to a basic, realistic level.

But then again if you just choose to ignore it, that'll also be mostly okay.

How do you handle money in your comic?

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Hockey Webcomics at 9:34PM, March 11, 2024

Gonna be feature soon and it's gonna hit the kids harder than a check from a hockey enforcer.

Corruption at 5:28PM, March 9, 2024

One good way to deal with money without bringing it up all the time is to do something like, rob the villains! Seriously, if vampires, bank robbers and others take money from the innocent people, just rob those SOBs, and swipe their goods. It can actually be a good plot hook and motivator. Plot hook as what happens when the MC tries to sell something distinct that the villains stole by murdering a powerful beings grandson? Not to mention te authorities trying figure out where your riches come from.

usedbooks at 2:59PM, March 9, 2024

Kaida's money is completely dirty, but that's from her old life. Her store is basically a cover and is rarely open because she doesn't need to open it. Meanwhile, her brother is broke, and her dad lives in a castle. Money comes up in the story. I also have a self-made millionaire side character who can do what he pleases (falling into the trope of "Team Benefactor"). Seiko's family were wealthy but inheritance got lost -- not really addressed in the story beyond the fact that her family had a nice estate home that was ultimately torched. Most of the "bad guys" are pretty well-off. Their henchfolks are not. Protagonists run the spectrum. Only a few have legitimate jobs. (Mike is a barista. Seiko is an adjunct professor.)

Hapoppo at 1:40PM, March 9, 2024

Personally I prefer to hear about characters' financial situations in a more passive manner - if they say "I can't afford those shoes" or " I need to get a side gig so I can buy that new TV", that's good enough for me. So long as you have a general idea of their financial situation and they react in a believable manner, I think it's fair to just assume a character can or can't afford certain things in any given situation.

Amelius at 12:09PM, March 9, 2024

Haha my characters are either gainfully employed humans (whose boss gets money from multiple sources some undisclosed for now) or people-eating creatures of the night who rob folks of their cash but I pay attention to where and when they get money and items from, I even have a side-comic that's about merchants on the road in the same setting. There's a subplot about tithes getting stolen from the king in the main comic too, and I've done lore posts on the currency and wealth sources in the major kingdoms. I've even specified that vampires only work with Skzzldrix because they're the only ones who will accept human money for their services, all others accept only the coin of their respective kingdoms because money is literal (magical) power and vampires are a fallen kingdom and Skzzldrix want money for religious (prosperity gospel) reasons. The dragons will accept anything that has value because they want to lay on it, they can look human enough to hold down jobs in the city.

Ironscarf at 11:08AM, March 9, 2024

One of the problems with money is there's a lot of social etiquette surrounding it, so people general don't ask about it unless it becomes an issue. That makes it difficult to suggest someone's financial circumstances in a word balloon, unless you have an especially blunt character asking about it, or you have a scene where they're desperately trying to get their hands on some cash, or spending extravaganty, that kind of thing. I try to imply financial status, such as having my two female leads living in a very upmarket kind of flat, but explaining that would seem forced and it will come out in the plot eventually anyway. I do think money and aspects of it when I'm writing characters. Someone who grew up with plenty will have a different attitude to money than someone who acquired it later, even if they have the same amount.

PaulEberhardt at 9:44AM, March 9, 2024

I've known people like that in real life - I could hardly exaggerate their mannerisms in a comic, but my main character shows them on any fitting occasion. They came from an older generation that has known the aftermath of the War, having lost everything, living in bombed-out ruins, dealing with massive shortages (and, since it's Germany I'm talking about, in many cases realising it's their own fault more or less and being loaded with irredeemable guilt for good measure) who then grit their teeth and built up their lives again step by step in just a decade or two. I don't think any of us young whippersnappers who don't happen to be refugees from other wars can really imagine what that is like. Still, I've always thought that if my main character is a centuries-old witch, modelling her this way made most sense.

PaulEberhardt at 9:32AM, March 9, 2024

I consciously take care not to portray my main character as an underdog nor as filthy rich, even if she clearly lives a bit outside of society, because I've always felt that both tropes have been overused by people who I secretly suspect have either too many or too few worries about money themselves. This said, she's well-off enough not to have to worry, much, but only because she's been self-employed for literal ages in a unique job she's very, very good at, and even more because she fits the typical Old Northerner cliché of being very tight with her money, while at the same time only to ready to take it from her customers, and of living a lifestyle of pronounced understatement.

UnderTheBlackHat at 7:22AM, March 9, 2024

Early in the creation of Kawaii Kissu, there were questions about how some elements would be explained: How do the girls afford this two week trip? What about Emery's apartment? Aiko's ease of travel between Japan and the U.S.? Yes, the writer had a 'solution' and that would kind of form our world and how those around our characters interact with it. With Emery, there are several times that inequities between her earnings and her 'lifestyle' (mainly about her lovely apartment in the heart of a major city) are brought up. These things need to at least have some sort of explanation or you lose readers to the total unbelievability of the situation. We believe that it does make the story more relatable if there are some grounded explanations for certain aspects of the tale, like the money. This makes suspension of disbelief easier with other elements, even if it is a bit of trope (our story) at times, we think it helps the 'buy in' of the reader.

paneltastic at 7:08AM, March 9, 2024

" in Friends you have a bunch of single adults rooming together because they can't afford housing otherwise, but their outfits keep changing, are always new, and always top notch. How can they afford that? " I think we just discovered why they can't afford a house.

TroyVS at 4:46AM, March 9, 2024

My MC has a background of being a bad guy and stole a shitload of money that may or may not come to bite him in the ass later

bravo1102 at 2:30AM, March 9, 2024

Like the Kinks song says "I'm a cut rate person in a low budget land." Society has always assigned different worths to different things so even without money there was still perceived value. We've learned a lot reading those Sumerian customer complaint letters. There's no money but there's still trade and perceived value. Chimpanzees have been observed to have that too. So it's in that hominid behavior of ours. Whether you call it money or not isn't important. Things still cost so much. It's always present lurking somewhere.

marcorossi at 1:19AM, March 9, 2024

In some of my comics money acts as a motivator but in my last two it disappears. I think the reason money disappears in many stories is that, while it is a "reinforcer", it only exists because of culture, it doesn't exist in our baboon brain. Other things like love or appreciation instead exist already in the baboon brain, so they create a stronger emotional effect. Money in stories works better when tied to those things, like a carachter who is despised for being poor who has the chance to get money.

plymayer at 12:49AM, March 9, 2024

On a side note: Advertising on the Drunk Duck works. The ad for Please Remind sent me to that comic which looks promising.

plymayer at 12:48AM, March 9, 2024 hasn't really played into my characters motivations but you make some good points.

Andreas_Helixfinger at 12:18AM, March 9, 2024

Well in my comic's case. After having been divorced - having been stripped of her upper-middle class social status and done away with the rest of the savings she claimed from it - money is a constant issue for the main character Molly. Not exactly raking the cash from her P.I bussiness in its humble beginnings she often has to resort to stealing groceries and pick pocketing money, lending money from friends and family members and hunting in the surrounding waters of the city for fish to eat.

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