Episode 537 - Historicity

Jun 28, 2021

We have a chat about historicity in this Quackcast. What IS historicity? It's historical authenticity basically but a nicer way of saying it! It's pretty important for a lot of reasons to make the best effort you can with historical authenticity- it increases immersion of the audience, gives you a better understanding of the story and the world you're looking at (because things will make sense), and leads you to better understanding of your own history and where we came from. BUT, that doesn't mean you always have to be strict. As long as you as a creator properly understand historical context then you've got a lot more leeway to play without creating something stupid. Playing fast and loose with history is ok as long as you know what you're doing, not just being a moron and faking it (hey, many of us are guilty of that). Historical fantasy, myth, classics, fiction, biography etc are all different classes of story where it's more or less forgiveable to mess around.

Topics and Show Notes

Asterix is a great example of a series made by creators who know their stuff. They've set it in a real historical period, used real historical figures and events. But it's fiction and silly comedy and because they know the subject so well they can screw with it, compress history, put Vikings in a time period hundreds of years before they existed, and tell modern satirical stories using a historical stetting. The musical Hamilton is another example of creators who know their subject intimately, so they re-frame the story of a US founding father with a cast of black Americans and create a work of intelligent social commentary that still has historical veracity.

Bad examples typically have an a-historical character who for no reasons at all has fully modern attitudes despite their historical setting- often typified by a lady character who chafes at her “constrictive” corset - this has become a cliché and now a meme for people who are bad at history.

An interesting example to me is the British horror series Penny Dreadful where they did an excellent job of creating a convincing historical setting and environment. They had characters with more “modern” ideas but they had very good reasons to have them in that setting, they had a more modern demographic to the cast and also made that fit perfectly as well: history is often “whitewashed”, especially 19th century London, but they worked around that beautifully and gave us a realistically diverse cast. And yet despite all the effort they'd done to make things fit and work across several seasons, they really undermined it by introducing a kick-arse kungfu-fighting lady doctor in lovely tailored suits in the final few episodes when they knew they were cancelled and couldn't finish the season. The character sort of trod on and peed all over the work the others had done to set themselves up and round themselves off.

Though, as I've said: historical fantasy, myth, classics, fiction, biography etc all have different amounts of leeway for what they are. In the case of Penny Dreadful it's a horror fantasy with a historical setting so it had a LOT of leeway. The trouble was that they set a solid precedent by creating their own style with excellent historicity, even though they didn't have to, which was why it hurt when they broke it. It was a betrayal of the other characters, especially Eva Green's character Vanessa Ives, a woman who struggled for her place in the world and built her strength from within, brick by brick, only to be shown up by an unimaginative standard trope Buffy the Vampire Slayer type character.

This wouldn't be complete of course without a mention of Blackadder: a brilliant historical comedy that knows its stuff enough to break it beautifully! What are your fave “historical” things to enjoy and what are your least fave?

This week Gunwallace has given us a theme to Chatterbox - Starting off down home, country bluegrass, playing the mouthorgan as you cruise around the back roads on your whumptruck… developing into a rollicking, rolling, joyous, fun roadhouse concert, complete with trumpets, piano, bass guitar, lead, old style electric organs, the whole deal! Get up and dance!

Topics and shownotes

Links

Featured comic:
Patchwork and Lace - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/news/2021/jun/22/featured-comic-patchwork-and-lace/

Featured music:
Chatterbox - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/Chatterbox/ - by Banes, rated M.

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

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Episode 536 - #heroesdon'tdothat

Jun 21, 2021

4 likes, 1 comment

There was ALL sorts of kerfuffle on the internet centred around the phrase “Heroes don't do that”. It began with an interview of two people involved in the production of the Harley Quinn TV animated series. According to them there was a sex scene between Batman and Cat Woman, including a scene of cunnalingus. They claim that a representative from DC told them to cut that scene, saying “Heroes don't do that”... But what is the REAL story?

Episode 534 - Biting off more than you can chew

Jun 7, 2021

4 likes, 2 comments

Taking on more than you can handle - i.e. James Cameron and JJ Abrams are good directors and writers but neither could handle the demands of a complex Sci-Fi project that needs full world building and internally consistent logic etc (Avatar and Star Wars). They're great with more simple SciFi that's based on 21st century earth and simpler stories, but epic SciFi was clearly a long way beyond the capabilities of either. We're talking about when WE have been caught taking on stuff we couldn't handle, how we dealt with that and also how other creators dealt with it too.

Episode 531 - Same Stories From Differnt Perspectives

May 17, 2021

4 likes, 5 comments

The famous film Rashomon by Akira Kurosawa gave its name to the style of a story that has the same scenes told from different perspectives. Many comics and movies have done this, it's a really cool trick to try. Not only can it help you show a different perspective of a scene it can also show your story in a completely different style when you show things through the eyes of a particular character and how they “see” the world. It can even be a great trick for making a sequel- rather than a linear continuation of a story you show a story that happened in parallel to the sequences shown.

Episode 530 - What is SciFi?

May 10, 2021

4 likes, 0 comments

So what IS SciFi? Well it's a pretty wide umbrella term and contains a lot of different things. In some senses it's just an imaginative fiction story where science replaces magic. SciFi can simply be a sciencey setting where genre stories take place (romance, adventure, nior, horror). It can be a magical fantasy space opera with a futuristic skin (Star Wars), it can be “hard SciFi” where the story is set in the future but the science is completely plausible, it can be written with strong themes that examine philosophical questions and make interesting points about the nature of humanity, and it can be so many more things too. It's a broad church!

Episode 528 - How tall are your characters?

Apr 26, 2021

3 likes, 0 comments

Character height is not something we think about too much but it's actually a fairly big deal: in terms of what the height means, what it means contextually, how the character fits into their world, how they relate to others around them, and how it's like to draw them! A character can loom, they can shrink down, they can appear bigger than they are due to force of personality or smaller due to being shy and retiring, Largeness can equal power and strength, stupid docility, threat, potential, or it can be used to highlight the strength of a much smaller character that beats them as in many animes.

Episode 527 - Evil superheroes unneeded

Apr 19, 2021

4 likes, 1 comment

Evil superheroes are a stupid fad, that's my contention. My opinion. They've been around for a long time but now they're so popular it's becoming a bit of a fad and might turn into its own genre. I suppose Marvel and others have saturated the superhero market so to stay relevant other companies are doing “twists” on that traditional genre, hence the evil superheroes.

Episode 525 - Sexual Tension

Apr 5, 2021

5 likes, 0 comments

Sexual tension between characters is a great way to augment the conflict that drives a story. The audience really wants that to resolve into a relationship or at least an assignation of some sort… The longer it goes on though, the bigger they want the coming together to be, which can be dangerous for the creator because it's so easy to disappoint. it's usually better to resolve the tension earlier than later, OR keep it going forever but keep it interesting and don't ever sour it or make it turn stale.


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