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
Caveston - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/news/2022/mar/22/featured-comic-caveston/
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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Jan 16, 2022
Let's talk about total immersion… When consuming media rather than creating it, if you're lucky you become immersed: the struggles and fears of the character become your own. You feel for them, you care, their pain, their hunger, even their shivers and sweats, you care about the world in which they live… That can be an amazing feeling and it's pretty much WHY we really enjoy and keep consuming media. Themes, great visuals, intellectual explorations of ideas and concepts are all very well but nothing compels and excites you as much as when you really CARE what's happening. So that's what we're chatting about! Join us on Discord - https://discordapp.com/invite/7NpJ8GS
Sep 27, 2021
We decided to chat about games. Video game and computer games. They're now a huge part of pop-culture entertainment and they've influenced us in many ways creatively throughout our lives. There are many different kinds of games out there, but one of the really cool things about them is that they're able to deliver a kind of interactive narrative experience that takes things further than Film or comics can easily do. Games were also instrumental in the early days of the first big popular wave of webcomics with gamer comics (PVP, Ctrl Alt Dlt, and Penny Arcade) and sprite comics (8 bit fantasy), being some of the most popular.
Jul 11, 2021
Schemers can be part of some great stories when they're done well! When they're done badly though they're very annoying! Schemers, plotters and planers have become a super annoying trope in anime: at the end of the first or second episode a person will show up in the shadows and say that they're amused how things are all going as predicted and planned…. They'll appear again at the half way mark of the series and again 3 episodes before the end in the run up to their climactic battle with the protagonist. It's a trope and a formula. Sometimes it works, often it doesn't.
Jun 7, 2021
Taking on more than you can handle - i.e. James Cameron and JJ Abrams are good directors and writers but neither could handle the demands of a complex Sci-Fi project that needs full world building and internally consistent logic etc (Avatar and Star Wars). They're great with more simple SciFi that's based on 21st century earth and simpler stories, but epic SciFi was clearly a long way beyond the capabilities of either. We're talking about when WE have been caught taking on stuff we couldn't handle, how we dealt with that and also how other creators dealt with it too.
Jan 3, 2021
Happy 2021 everybody!!!!! For this fun first of year Quackcast We do a commentary and reaction to the Ralph Bakshi and Frank Frazetta classic sword and sorcery animated movie from 1983, Fire and Ice! Tantz and Banes have never, ever seen it before so it was a new experience to them and maybe to YOU as well? Fire and Ice is a simple fantasy story about evil prince Necron who wants to rule over all the lands using his control of a huge glacier. Brave Princess Teegra, Larn (mullet head), and Darkwolf (the Deathdealer), team up to battle to stop him destroying the southern lands. It was done with rotoscoped animation which made the figures look quite realistic. Rotoscoping is basically filming real actors and then taking out the background and painting over their bodies and turning them into cartoons. It's an analogue old fashion way of doing motion capture, like they do in modern 3D CGI animation.
Oct 5, 2020
What is the worth of human life in your stories? This isn't something people often consider, we just tend to have a fairly accurate guess based on our experience of the real world, but sometimes stories get it really wrong and that can harm suspension of disbelief.
Mar 9, 2020
We're talking about the cartoons that made us! This was inspired by kawaiidaigakusei's newspost from last week about Daria. Daria was a really cool cartoon from the late 90s. It was influential to her, to me as well, and I thought it would be a great idea for a Quackcast to talk about the other cartoons that were influential to us at certain points in our lives.