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 423 - Fave weapons in fiction?

Apr 22, 2019

4 likes, 0 comments

What's your favourite weapon in fiction? Mine are ridiculously giant swords, huge anti-tank rifles, and mecha. There are a lot of complex reasons for weapon choices in fiction, a Kalashnikov assault rifles for example signals certain things about the person carrying it: They're usually a bad guy for a start. This originated during the cold war, with certain types of bad guys using AKs. First it was Soviet Bloc soldiers, then it was Viet Con and rebels from South East Asia, then it became the “terrorist” weapon. The sub machine gun is the weapon of the bad guy. Terrorists used to use Uzis (before they turned to AKs), bank robbers used to use Mac 10s, now it's the HK MP5. Good guys carry an M-16 or AR-15 rifle. In historical fiction traditionally the bad guys carries curved swords while the good guys had straight swords, this came from crusades. Minor characters carry spears and heroes carry swords. Women, weaker characters and rebels carry bows. Giant swords and guns are often given to smaller characters in anime (usually female), as an obvious contrast with their small size. It's meant to emphasis the fact they're sort of a “mighty mouse”.

Episode 421 - Dreamcast

Apr 8, 2019

2 likes, 8 comments

Today we're talking about all the ways nightmares can be used in stories. This is based on a newspost by our very own dreamboat Tantz Aerine. Nightmares are great for foreshadowing through premonitions, forcing characters to confront things and change their minds, ratcheting up tension in a story and all sorts of other useful things that you'd never consider.

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 415 - lazy solutions cause plot-holes!

Feb 25, 2019

3 likes, 0 comments

This Quackcast expands on my newspost from Friday about forgotten abilities causing plot holes, but now bunny Banes and Lady Tantz wade in to lend their genius to my silly ideas and we chat about what the real issues are: bad writing and laziness! This is when a character gains the ability to walk through walls or become bullet proof or go back in time and then forgets it for the rest of the story or in the sequel When basically 80% of the problems they encounter could be solved by it… And you're mentally screaming at them “Use your damn power that you got 20 pages ago… Remember that thing that would help you avoid all this trouble!?” Using easy solutions to get out of problems causes plot-holes! And your audience will hate you for it.

Episode 414 - Bad Hollywood

Feb 18, 2019

3 likes, 0 comments

Hollywood has a tendency to simplify or completely alter stories to make them more mainstream and appealing to their idea of a popular audience. In this Quackcast we thought it'd be fun to run with that idea and re-imagine our works for “Hollywood”.

Episode 411 - The Right to Copy!

Jan 28, 2019

4 likes, 5 comments

Copyright is a huge thing! It allows us to make money from our creations and stops other people from stealing them. But culture isn't about a series of billions of totally original ideas invented from nothing- absolutely NOT. Culture grows from ideas that are recycled, reiterated, and reinvented. It's all quite derivative and mixed. So there has to be a balance between respect for rigid copyright and some flexibility to work with existing ideas.

Episode 404 - Strong characters

Dec 10, 2018

3 likes, 0 comments

We mined Tantz's Saturday newspost for our discussion topic: Strong characters and how to write GOOD ones! What is a strong character? Well it has nothing to do with physical ability, power, command, or anything so obvious and trite. Strong characters are well rounded and well realised, they're often active and opposed to reactive, they make things happen, the story hinges on them. Failed attempts at “strong” characters or obvious and often result in Mary Sues, whether male or female. People hand them traits that they THINK will make the character strong: make them a general, make them a great fighter, make them royalty etc. The problem comes when none of that is ever logically backed up in the story. You can't just title a character something or have other characters talk about how great they are without having them demonstrate a reason for it, or else all you have is a pathetic paper tiger and a really shizzy failed part of your story.


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