Episode 426 - Sidekicking

May 13, 2019

Inspired by Emma Clare's Friday newspost about supporting characters, today we're discussing sidekicks! Sidekicks are a useful character type that are used in so many different ways. They can be a specialised type of supporting character that are also a main character or they can be the main protagonist in some cases. In comics sidekicks came in during the early days as a way of giving juvenile readers their own insert character who they could identify with… Bucky Barnes, Jimmy Olsen, Robin etc. They had other functions like giving the hero someone to save, providing commentary, reaction and exposition. Later when that kind of sidekick fell out of favour they became superheroes in their own right.

Topics and Show Notes

But sidekicks are a lot older than comics. People in social situations will often naturally fall into that sort of role because humans work well in hierarchies. One person takes the lead and the other follows: the person with the most forceful personality, The most experienced person, the higher ranked person, the socially superior person leads, and the other follows and that's reflected in literature.

Class was often used to put people in their “natural” roles: Frodo and Sam from Lord of the Rings; AJ Raffles and Bunny Manders; Sherlock Holes and Dr Watson: the posher person with the higher social rank is automatically the leader. This is very much a part of the British class system, officers and senior management came from the higher social classes etc, it's a large subject.
But that's also inverted occasionally; Jeeves is Bertie Wooster's Valet and social inferior and yet Jeeves is the leader in that relationship.

The sidekick is often the main character when used as the point of view character to tell us how marvellous their leader is. We get this with Doctor Watson in the Sherlock Holmes stories, Bunny in the Raffles the gentleman thief stories, Bertie in the Jeeves stories, and Archie in the Nero Wolfe stories. Archie is interesting; he does everything, he's the main active character, and yet he's still no more than a sidekick to the great Nero Wolfe.

Sometimes the sidekick is the smart character who's there to try and rein in the excesses of their leader, like Arthur with the Tick, Sancho Panza with Don Quixote, Doctor Girlfriend and the Monarch, Agent 99 and Maxwell Smart, Kif and Zap Brannigan, Banes and Ozoneocean… They can also be used to compliment the leader by replacing something they lack, not just intelligence as in the former example. Kato in the Pink Panther provides Inspector Clouseau with muscle, Brock Samson provides EVERYTHING for Doctor Venture, Doctor Watson has skill the ladies, tact, charm, and humanity that Sherlock lacks, Archie has the confidence and mobility that Nero hasn't.

There are so many clever an interesting ways to use sidekicks, far in advance of the Batman and Robin method! I think we should continue to use them. What are your fave sidekicks and why? Do you have a sidekick in your story?



This week Gunwallace has given us the theme to Operation Boom - Booooooooooom! This one thunders in, all action and furious energy, rolling in like a 50 tonne bulldozer at high speed while on FIRE and sparking with insane electrical discharges. This is danger music. Bright yellow with black diagonal lines. Listen for the deep, bass booms.

Topics and shownotes

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Featured comic:
Customer Service - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/news/2019/may/07/featured-comic-customer-service/

Featured music:
Operation Boom - - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/Operation_Boom/, by Recklesshero, rated E.

LINKS
The importance of supporting characters, newspost by Emma Clare - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/news/2019/may/09/supporting-characters-and-why-they-are-important/

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

Episode 405 - Escape from Tumblr!

Dec 16, 2018

2 likes, 5 comments

On the 18th of December people who post things with nudity on Tumblr will be kicked off the site. That means all the adult bloggers, comicers and things that made that journalling site stand out above the rest of the vast sea of blog sites and image hosts are being screwed out of what they helped build up! The reason of course is to make the site more attractive to advertisers and so it can more easily fit the standards of puritanical companies like Apple and Google who have taken it upon themselves to scrub the world clean of anything that defines us as adult human beings.

Episode 401 - Stan Lee, a stupid comedian, and the new prudes

Nov 19, 2018

3 likes, 4 comments

This is Quackcast 401! Error, error! Pitface and Tantz were absent so Banes and myself were left to go quietly off the rails and expostulate all sorts of radical, half formed, badly articulated thoughts. This is an interesting one! We cover the death of the great Stan Lee, titan of the comics and superhero world. Then we sidestream into talking about comedians trying to be political commentators (re: Bill Maher)… I must apologise for my Ad Hominems. And lastly our focus is on a “new puritanism” in some aspects of pop-culture. It all ties together, if a little awkwardly.

Episode 397 - Horror Comics

Oct 22, 2018

2 likes, 0 comments

Fear: What are we afraid of? Why do we like or do not like media that may reflect these fears or lead us to new ones? How do such comics inspire fear or similar reactions within us. DO we like horror because we like fear to an extent? This Quackcast is about horror comics, how they work and why we like them. We chat about many of the horror comics on DD.

Episode 370 - deadlines Vs taking time and the good the bad and grey

Apr 16, 2018

3 likes, 2 comments

In today's Quackcast we talk about a couple of subjects: Doing things at the last minute VS doing them slowly, over time. Sometimes you get that wonderful last minute energy caused by a deadline, your work can be inspired, or at least fresh and full of vibrancy. Other times it's rough and unfinished looking, amateurish. Work done over a long time can be honed to a diamond edge, exquisitely put together like a Faberge egg, a work of art! Other times it can be like a warmed over mess, redone and redone till any spark of originality and freshness is washed out of the grey goop you're left with. We chat about Tantz's Saturday newspost subject of Black and White Vs Grey: bad guys can be totally bad without humanising them and good guys can be totally good, without stain or tarnish and yet both can be interesting and the story can be great. Grey isn't always better. This week Gunwallace has given us the theme to Empress Mother Earths Handmaiden: A dark, intense foreboding and forbidding intro leads you deep into a beautiful rose coloured cave of glowing wonder and joy. We finish up with a lovely lilt on a harp!

Episode 341 - Objectification and porn

Sep 25, 2017

5 likes, 6 comments

In this Quackcast we chat about how objectification can rob the humanity from a character and turn them into a meaningless object which can in turn alienate your audience by making your work less relatable, but with things like porn where character is less important than the on screen action objectification is more acceptable. We chat about the development of porn and why it became so objectified, from the early beginnings where story, setting and character were always a factor, till the days of home video and the internet and how that changed the balance due to various factors, and the way higher production values, better acting and story is actually making its way back in some instances. We also chat a bit about the differences between porn aimed at women and that aimed at men. “Sexposition” in mainstream entertainment like Game of thrones is possibly an interesting outgrowth of the acceptability of pornography and the idea of mixing story and onscreen (simulated) sexuality. The theme Gunwallace has given us this week was for Tomb Busters! It's compelling, regal, atmospheric, steel guitar country rock, this is a triumphant epic that will swallow you whole and leave you gasping for air. This is my new fave!

Episode 304 - eeeeeevil!

Jan 2, 2017

5 likes, 1 comment

What defines evil in fiction? I say the simplest one is bad guys are selfish, good guys are selfless. That is massively over simplistic but it's a good easy template for basic hero's and villains. Basic ones I was just doing a quick thought experiment to work out an easy way to define “good” and “evil” characters in fiction. The more selfless someone is the more “good” they are: the more they think of others, want to help people, put the needs of the masses first, the more willing they are to reach across to their enemies etc. The more selfish a person is the more “evil” they are: if they don't consider the needs or feelings of others, help out their own small group and let others suffer, help themselves first. Of course there are many other more advanced aspects, especially if you consider the relative nature of these things: the idea that everyone thinks they're the good guy from their own perspective, being cruel to be kind, being too authoritarian and heavy handed in the use of power, NOT using power when you should, helping in a way that only SEEMS destructive and selfish, trying to help but causing destruction and chaos in the process, which brings us to the dreaded “unintended consequences”. BUT, the selfless/selfish equation is a nice simple starting point to build from. In the Quackcast we discuss these aspects as well as more advanced notions about what makes a good evil character, what makes a bad one, humanising evil, and weakening you evil character by humanising them too much. Gunwallace's musical theme was for The Cull: Dark, haunting, and compelling- Eastern European Jewish, country and rock, reminds me of Tracy Bonham’s later work.

Episode 291 - The philosophy and politics of comics

Oct 3, 2016

5 likes, 3 comments

This week's Quackcast is brought to us by Tantz Ariene! Tantz is a very political creature, seeing as she comes from Athens which is pretty much the birthplace of politics AND philosophy, that's hardly surprising. Clever Tantz in her tantzglasses, dudeman Banes, and me,Ozoneocean all talk about this interesting subject: what are the politics and philosophy involved in YOUR webcomic? Even though we don't realise it, there's ALWAYS politics of some sort in a comic, as well as philosophy. If your writing is pretty clever you might have multiple political view points in your comic and a whole range of different philosophies! Consider something as basic as Peanuts. Those characters have all sorts of political viewpoints! Peppermint Pattie is very forthright in her feminist views, but she's also pretty left wing, Lucy is rather domineering and and right off centre in the way she thinks, Charlie Brown is a bit of a fatalist blank slate for the audience to project themselves onto, Linus is a quiet intellectual… etc, I don't know, it's been years since I've read Peanuts! Gimmee a break! In superhero comics it's the same; most of them are pretty right wing, libertarian, individualist sorts of characters- Batman for example, Iron man, etc. There's a good argument for Superman being somewhat more Socialist since he's an ordinary man with an ordinary job most of the time and works out in the open for the good of all humanity, while Batman is a super rich guy most of the time and when he's doing hero stuff it's usually smaller scale vigilante type stuff against people who threaten his city, or commerce in his city like thieves and the Mafia. Try it yourself! Examining the politics and philosophy of your OWN characters as well as classic ones is pretty interesting. Gunwallace's theme this week is for Krasnosvit, a subtle, careful, fairytale theme, inducing you into the dark forest strangeness of Krasnosvit.


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