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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Mar 20, 2022
Fantasy creatures are cool and we're here to talk about our faves. One of mine is elves. I love them… Being quite elfy myself. Fantasy is pretty fun to play around with, you have the freedom to create anything but even so there are a few recognised and agreed on fantasy creatures that people stick with.
Oct 11, 2021
Last time we covered tropes we hated! This time we're talking about clichés we actually like. It's quite a bit trickier because clichés are clichés for a reason (overuse) so it's not easy to like them, except in some cases… For me it's Isekai. That's a Japanese word for “another world”. This is a very old genre, it's basically a story where a person from our normal world goes to a magical world, we see this in ancient fairy stories, Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland, the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe and many others. until the mid 20th century it was the default way of writing any fantasy story. It has always been around, the Japanese were just the first to come up with a popular name for it.
Aug 10, 2020
DD member Furwerk Studios posted in our forum about how annoying it was that movies try and do an 80s retro thing often get things totally wrong and end up looking dumb because of it: Not just superficial looks-wise but stylistically too in terms of the kinds of shots they do, lighting and story structure. I thought that'd make an interesting topic for a cast! Why do people often mess up retro stuff? We're not talking about historical accuracy here, that's slightly different, what we're talking about is setting something in an era and getting the “feel” of that era right. It pays off hugely when it works, but when it doesn't it comes off as superficial, disappointing and ignorant.
Apr 20, 2020
Certain tropes or stylistic ways of telling a story can get really, really popular and trendy very quickly and it seems like they're everywhere! Suddenly many story are all told with the same sort of stylistic flourishes. The first few times it's done that way it's clever and meaningful but after that people just use the same thing without understanding it properly and consequently usually do a really crappy job!
Oct 7, 2019
For the month of October we've decided to look at a different movie franchise each week, starting with Indiana Jones! Banes and Tantz have way more knowledge about the films than I, having watched them much more, but we all have a fondness for the character.
Aug 26, 2019
Cooperation Vs Competition. For decades the mantra was competition is good: it produces progress and makes things better… Well that's actually false. Competition is what you're forced into as a response to limited resources, so you do what you have to to win, which mainly involves losing everything that doesn't serve that specific objective. Competition is massively harmful to progress in general, it ONLY helps you excel in one small area to massive cost. Think of it in terms of an Olympic sprinter: they become the fastest runner in the world, but to what point? Only the artificial structure of a sporting event… they spend years training, exercising, eating right, wasting a huge portion of their lives, creative, and intellectual potential on that one meaningless goal, and IF they achieve it they might get a bit of fame and money and a footnote in history because someone else will inevitably take their spot. More likely though they won't achieve the goal and instead be forgotten.
Jun 25, 2018
Retro is GOOoooooooooood! Damn good. Don't underestimate the power of retro. Old material and the past is where pure gold hides. Mine that stuff for all it's worth! But it can be overdone and when it is it's like warmed over fish and chips, it becomes tired and stale… Lets not talk about that though. What we chatted about here was the idea of mining your old work for good stuff. What was great, showed cool promise, or was some awesome but forgotten thing from your old comic work? You are perfectly free to revisit it, shine it up and impress the world. Many of the great artists and musicians of the world made their mark with that. Sometimes the world is not ready for your good stuff at the time you publish it, so many you're later you can go back and re-release it to one that is! Bands you to do that ALL the time. The past is a great place to look for inspiration. This week Gunwallace has given us the theme to Redneck: Bluegrass dubstep! Fast tasty beats, lyrical guitar and a bass that drops right onto your head! Disturbing, unsettling and yet strangely compelling.