Episode 576 - Retro Adventure heroes

Mar 28, 2022

Retro adventure heroes are an interesting and unique sort of hero. The trope was revived and crystallised by George Lucas and Steven Spielberg with Indiana Jones, but it had existed long before then and continues to persist now in many forms. They're not without their problems But I like these characters. I love their outfits, their competency, intelligence, self sufficiency, and their penchant for exploration and discovery.

Topics and Show Notes

What is a retro adventure hero? Typically they're an adventurer, a member and representative of a powerful Western country, they like exploring, they're self sufficient, they can survive by themselves in the wild, they can fight, understand many languages, have arcane knowledge of and respect for native peoples and different exotic cultures, they tend to be very worldly and highly educated. This trope was inspired by real life examples, typically explorers from the 19th century, foremost among them was Sir Richard Francis Burton. He was highly educated, a soldier, an explorer, a swordsman and a shameless self promoter. With the explorations of Burton we have the romantic idea of a representative of the British Empire and Western civilisation delving into the hidden worlds of the Arab east and darkest Africa.

A partial influence for Indiana Jones was the story of GE Kinkaid and his 1909 find of the remains of a fabulous city accessed through a cave in the Grand Canyon… all sponsored by the Smithsonian institute. Of course nothing about the story was true and GE Kinkaid never existed, but it was quite inspiring nonetheless. My own character, Ace Kinkaid, from my comic Pinky TA was based on GE Kinkaid. Instead of going in the Indiana Jones direction of a “true hero” I decided to take a different tack- since the story was clearly made up and quite stupid (obviously designed to fool people), I made Ace Kinkaid someone who wanted to look like a hero but was in reality a con-man, only out for himself.

The most important fictional retro adventure hero is H. Rider Haggard's “Allan Quatermain” (I wrongly say he was Edgar Rice Burroughs' character in the Quackcast). He's another huge influence for Indiana Jones. There are many other popular fictional retro adventure heroes though: Brenden Frasier's character in The Mummy, Romancing the Stone, Lara Croft, El Borak, Steve Canyon, Biggles, Bulldog Drummond, John Carter, Dirk Pitt in Sahara, Flashman (though more of an antihero) and many more, even The Rock's character from the recent Jungle Cruise.

Why “retro” though and how can contemporary characters like Lara Croft and Dirk Pit be retro? Well there are a few reasons; number one is that they follow the clothing conventions of a lot of brown, leather, and straps; number two is that they have all the right competencies with fighting ability, self sufficiency, a penchant for adventure and exploration, visiting ruins etc, a good education…; number three is that they come from a retro world view of imperialism, so they can be a representative of the “enlightened modern world” going off to “discover” and explore exotic places - which of course aren't exotic or in need of discovery from the point of view of the locals.
This trope can still work just as well in a modern setting because we still continue to think like this, but it works best in the 1920s/30s for a couple of reasons: The aesthetic then is perfect, but this was also the end of the old imperial era. It marked the end of the time when we could still imagine representatives from “western civilisation” exploring unknown places, technology was at the highest point for characters of this trope (aeroplanes, machine guns, trains, steamships…), and many of the original adventure heroes were created in this period because we were romantisising the idea of adventure and empire while it was ending.

After the second world war scoured the entire globe and the last gasp of the dream of empire was shattered, the far reaches of the earth no longer seemed exotic anymore or to hold the same mystery. Retro adventure heroes had their hey-day in the transition from colonialism to post colonialism. We like them now for the romanticism of the image of what they were and the spirit of adventure and exploration, that's what we emulate rather than the distasteful idea of a colonialist imperial cultural ambassador, tourist, and thief.

Do you have a fave retro Adventure hero? If so, who? Do you even like the trope?


This week Gunwallace gave us a musical theme to Caveston - Authoritative violin pronounces and directs. A four stringed general deciding the course of action, laying out the battleplan. Electric guitar listens well and leads the squad on a furious audio assault! Storming forth and prevailing in a mighty show of shock and awe.


Topics and shownotes

Links


Featured comic:
Caveston - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/news/2022/mar/22/featured-comic-caveston/

Featured music:
Caveston - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/Caveston/ - by Caveston, rated T.


Special thanks to:
Gunwallace - http://www.virtuallycomics.com
Tantz Aerine - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/Tantz_Aerine/
Ozoneocean - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/ozoneocean
PitFace - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/PIT_FACE/
Kawaiidaigakusei - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/kawaiidaigakusei/

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Episode 530 - What is SciFi?

May 10, 2021

4 likes, 0 comments

So what IS SciFi? Well it's a pretty wide umbrella term and contains a lot of different things. In some senses it's just an imaginative fiction story where science replaces magic. SciFi can simply be a sciencey setting where genre stories take place (romance, adventure, nior, horror). It can be a magical fantasy space opera with a futuristic skin (Star Wars), it can be “hard SciFi” where the story is set in the future but the science is completely plausible, it can be written with strong themes that examine philosophical questions and make interesting points about the nature of humanity, and it can be so many more things too. It's a broad church!

Episode 496 - titular titularity!

Sep 14, 2020

4 likes, 0 comments

Titles are surprisingly important for your comic! We don't often realise that when we first start them, but a title is one of the very first ways people come across your work. You have to sell it to them and give them an idea of what to expect in only a very few words. You can take a lot of different approaches to that, like teasing and intriguing them with a title that suggests something interesting or mysterious, character names are great for that. You can be completely literal and obvious. You can use a pun… you can take an existing popular title and alter it in a slight way… There are so many things you can do!

Episode 473 - Genre vs Setting

Apr 5, 2020

3 likes, 3 comments

In this Quackcast we talk about the differences between genre and setting and what genre really is. For instance: Fantasy and SciFi aren't genres, they're settings… Mostly. It's complicated but they both pretty much USED to be genres, now they're mainly just settings for genre stories to take place in. What does that mean? Well, Fantasy wasn't even considered a genre back in the day, not really till after the success of Tolkien. Later on a lot of writers began using that same style and consumers really wanted it, so it became a “genre”. It was only later on when it graduated out of that to become a setting that has genre stories set within it.

Episode 387 - History and Pastiche

Aug 7, 2018

6 likes, 1 comment

In this Quackcast Tantz and I chat about the differences between working with historical settings and the different approaches we take. Tantz's comics (Without Moonlight and Brave Resistance), are both set in a real period of history: Nazi occupied Greece during WW2. Pinky TA is set in the 1920s in an alternative version of history, with Pinky coming from the fictional “Crimean Empire”. Tantz has to keep times, places, and details close to real history while with Pinky TA I can pick and choose the things from history I like the best and create my own idealised pastiche. The advantage of Tantz's approach is that everything is there, nothing has to be invented, just researched and reproduced, whereas my approach involves a lot of creation which slows things down and makes it harder. On the upside Pinky TA is much more flexible, I can easily fit whatever I want into the story, whereas Tantz's comics are bound by the rules of the history she's presenting.

Episode 378 - Your best work, Comicsgate, Mark Wade, Tantz comic spotlight, Twitter

Jun 11, 2018

3 likes, 6 comments

We have community contributions for this Quackcast! Many DDers told us about their best work and we read that out and chat about in on the Quackcast. We talking about promoting comics through DD's Twitter account. The DD awards have begun, get in on them and get nominated! Tantz Aerine wants to promote comics so send stuff to her.The we had a really long and interesting chat about Comisgate and Mark Wade and then Pitface had a meltdown :D This week Gunwallace has given us the theme to Completely unrelated. Slide into coooooool. This is crystal white acrylic decor, this is a level above, this is music for the sophisticated. Feel your stresses melt way as you float off with the smooth jazz. Pure pleasure.

Episode 375 - Categories, genres and rants

May 21, 2018

3 likes, 5 comments

In this Quackcast we chat about the categorisation of work by specific genres and how it makes it easier to promote your work to people, while for fans it makes it easier to find what you're into, but it can also be a bad thing when people categorise too specifically and narrow their audience to nothing or just pointlessly confuse the crap out of people. I came to this topic because I saw a post on Facebook which was very badly explaining “Steampunk” and “Dieselpunk” while introducing the two utterly superfluous sub-genre names of “Ray-punk” and Atom-punk“.

Episode 207 - A question of bodyshape part 2

Feb 22, 2015

5 likes, 7 comments

In Quackcast 207 we talk about bodyshapes in comics again; as a follow up from the chat we had about it in Quackcast 205 we thought we'd let the community weigh in with their thoughts... so Banes and I could get the chance to practice our voices. We wanted to know what others thought about the subject of about bodyshape in comics; Ones that they draw, read, or have just seen and think that it needs commenting upon. These Quackcasts were inspired of course by the images of athletes from the 2002 book "Athlete" by Howard Schatz. The photos show various athletes who're at the top level of their respective sports, it also shows that they have wildly different physical attributes: there IS no one ideal, and there IS no “normal”. This got us to thinking how body shape can define a character as much as facial features, hairstyle, clothing etc. Anyway, people had their say and it was enlightening! Also, Gunwallace's music this week was for FUNK! And funky it was, give it a listen.


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