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 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 296 - What came before?

Nov 7, 2016

5 likes, 0 comments

Tantz Aerine, Banes and Pitface join me, Ozoneocean, to talk about back stories, histories and all that extra knowledge you can come up with when creating your story. It can inform your comic story in a really clever way… but don't be tempted to vomit all that knowledge out on your unsuspecting audience! They'll hate you for it. It' a really great idea to come up with a detailed history and you can be really proud of it too, but you have to know how to present it to your audience, i.e. through your character interaction and the flow of your story. Gunwallace's featured music for this week was… THE LAST PICK UP ARTIST! This has a nice dry, rock feel, heavy guitar. This is music for cruising in a muscle car.

Episode 205 - What about bodyshape?

Feb 9, 2015

6 likes, 6 comments

This week Banes and I were inspired to talk about body shape in the depiction of figures in comics, inspired by some famous images from photographer Howard Schatz's 2002 book, Athlete. In it there are photos of many athletes who're at the peak of their sports and yet their bodyshapes are vastly different, subverting the idea of an "ideal" bodyshape or what it means to be a top athlete or even fit. too often bodyshapes in comics follow a very narrow range, not getting much past what we think of as the current popculture ideal. We all know that idealised model shape is a problem and yet we all still perpetuate it, most of the time you can only tell most "realistic" characters apart by their hairstyle or costume, especially in superhero comics. And that invents a second problem: the myth of the "normal" shaped body as opposed to the ideal- there IS no such thing as normal, and even the ideal is always changing throughout the ages. There's even a lot more to body shape than the famous categories: Mesomorph, Ectomorph, and Endomorph, or Skinny, Pear, Athletic, Hourglass and Apple. We also have a beif mention of how stylised characters (Sponge Bob, Calvin and Hobbes etc) are exaggerations of these shapes and differences.

Episode 201 - The Improvisationcast

Jan 13, 2015

5 likes, 7 comments

Pitface joins the duo of Banes and Ozoneocean once again, this time for the Improvisationcast! Pitface and Tantz Aerine do a lot of writing together when they work jointly on their script for Brave Resistance, but in order to further exercise their creative and collaborative muscles they also practise a turn by turn writing style where they improvise a story as they go. They start off with their own comic characters, one writes an intro and a bit with their character and the next one carries on after with their own character and also weaving the first person's character into the story with them, and so on. In the end you can produce a startling organic story that has forced you to examine the way your character would react to totally unfamiliar situations and stimuli. In this Quackcast we all experiment with this by doing an improvised play with characters we make up on the spot, to very mixed results....


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