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 417 - Can we be better?

Mar 11, 2019

3 likes, 0 comments

What is Social Marketing? Basically its word-of-mouth and viral marketing smashed together and weaponised: Marketing companies hijack hot-button social issues and hitch their client's brand to them in clever campaigns (“We can be better”, etc). The purpose isn't really to make a brand seem progressive, modern or new, rather it's another way of getting it trending on social media that's guaranteed to work, unlike the legion of hit or miss but mostly failed “Viral” campaigns. Whether people say negative or positive things about this issue is irrelevant to the marketer, as long as people are talking about the brand is all that matters. Free advertising is the goal, but it has a social cost.

Episode 402 - Audience expectations with characters

Nov 25, 2018

3 likes, 3 comments

We're all back together this week and we're chatting about audience expectations for characters versus the intentions of the creator. Which is more important? Well it's a bit of a balancing act… You don't want to pander to your audience because that's not fun and they won't enjoy it anyway, but by the same token you shouldn't just do whatever you feel like regardless. As a creator you build up a contract between yourself and the audience; if you betray that by subverting their expectations with characters in ways that are very “OUT of character” just because you feel like it then you can start to lose their respect and attention. Killing off characters all of a sudden can be a big responsibility too, try not to take that lightly.

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 393 - Set the scene!

Sep 24, 2018

2 likes, 0 comments

In THIS Quackcast we chat about shots! The kind you get from a camera… Long short, bird's eye view, worm's eye view, high angle, low angle, wide angle, fish eye, close up, ultra close up… You can use them to set the pace of the narrative, increase drama, reveal or conceal elements and so on. Shot types and angles are really important in story crafting. This was based on a newspost by Banes. I was actually IN Athens in Greece sitting next to Tantz Aerine for this Quackcast. It was cool to be in the same place with at least ONE of our fellow casters. Banes was still in Canada and Pit was in London, making a very brief cameo appearance at the very end.

Episode 383 - Slow burn

Jul 16, 2018

5 likes, 4 comments

The idea for this Quackcast came from a rant by the irascible PitFace. She was talking about how there's a trend in modern SciFi and horror movies to bash you over the head with constant action and it doesn't allow you time to relax and take in the story, you're just bounced from one relentless scene to the next. In the biggest classics of the genre like Alien, Ghost in the Shell (animated 90's version) or Blade Runner they DO allow the viewer slow moments of reflection and it helps to make the action feel more intense by contrast as well as allowing the viewer time to assimilate and understand all the ideas and themes they've been presented with so far.

Episode 374 - Selling yourself

May 14, 2018

4 likes, 0 comments

In this Quackcast we have a chat about some ways to promote your comics and sell yourself. Emma Clare and Tantz have been doing cool stuff with the DD Twitter account. Hash tags are an important part of that, help them come up with a hash tag for DD! Who understands hash-tags on Facebook? Covers are one of my favourite ways to promote your work. They're tricky to get right but you need them to properly encompass your work and promote it, the form they take can depend on where your work is: Amazon, Drunk Duck, a convention, targeted ads etc. But be careful not to disappoint your audience with false advertising. This week Gunwallace has given us the theme to Coward of Valor. It's a Modern yet medieval, this tune strides in with great pomposity and deigns to dance for us. It pirouettes and swoops in all its beauty and extravagance then exits stage left with just as much flare.

Episode 363 - The Art Of Comments

Feb 26, 2018

7 likes, 8 comments

Jason Moon, author of Crater's Edge, messaged me about some comments he had. He was perturbed about reader reaction to his storyline and wasn't sure how to handle the comments. I told him that those sorts of comments are the very greatest compliment an author can get, because once you get them you've reached the stage where people care about your work enough to get angry: they're invested emotionally in the characters. Yes. It is initially confronting to have someone commenting like that but what you really need to do is step back for a moment and realise what a gigantic compliment it is in actuality. It means you affected them strongly, and that's quite an important thing to be able to do. It doesn't happen much but it's quite a GOOD thing when it does. It's not an easy thing to do to get people that invested. What it really means is you have succeeded as a writer and reached an important milestone. We also have a chat about getting comments in general and also GIVING comments! Hopefully our new comment notification feature will be a boon for this kind of interaction. This week Gunwallace has given us the theme to Kitty Kitty Bang Bang: Multilayered Chinese video-game war anthem with a modern twist! That’s how I’d describe this complex little piece. It’s the final boss battle, you’ve got no spare lives, you’re down to your last powerup and time is running out!


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