Episode 534 - Biting off more than you can chew

Jun 7, 2021

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.

Topics and Show Notes

It's very easy to get overwhelmed by the magnitude of the task that you take on, whether the story style is too much for you, you can't get a good ending, the research is too much, the artwork is too hard, the schedule is too demanding etc. We've all been caught in some way or other, usually multiple ways! One strategy is to break stuff down into more manageable chunks, but sometimes that's just too hard anyway. It can be worth it to battle on because it forces you out of your comfort zone and makes you learn new lessons and techniques. Sometimes you can still produce something great even if you didn't reach what you were originally aiming for. And sometimes it actually makes more sense to quit because you find yourself wasting too much time and energy on it when you could be spending that more profitably elsewhere. There are no single right answers here.

The cover image is emblematic: an antimissle installation developed for billions by the US, which was abaondoned soon after. They bit off more than they could chew... Not only with the idea of hunting and killing balistic missles before they hit the US coast, but pursuing a concept that would have fundamentally unbalanced the M.A.D. docterine of the late cold war: If one side can defeat the other's missles then it becomes practical for them to strike first which makes nuclear war far more likley, which means that the other side becomes more desperate... fortunately the idiocy of this path was abaondoned before it led to further escalation.
(Image: By Pitface, abandoned antimissle site in ND)

This week Gunwallace has given us the theme to COSMIC SAFARI: A trip through the wilderness of the vast galaxy, along beautifully coloured nebula filaments, past the rings encircling gas giants, and through the tails of comets! This is Jean-Michele Jarre meets a small remote controlled car!

Topics and shownotes

Featured comic:
COSMIC SAFARI - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/news/2021/jun/01/featured-comic-cosmic-safari

Featured Music:
COSMIC SAFARI - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/COSMIC_SAFARI/ - by Frenemy, rated E.

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

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Episode 533 - Can Mary Sues be likeable?

May 30, 2021

5 likes, 0 comments

We've done a few Quackcasts about how terrible Mary Sues are… well this is the opposite! Tantz postulated that they can be likable and GOOD for a story and then won us over easily by telling us why during our Patreon video. In the Quackcast Banes and I join in, having been convinced of the idea. We talk about how if the Mary Sue is a likable, good person, genuinely humble or altruistic and helpful then that can mitigate their Mary Sueness. Whereas if they're selfish, take their status for granted, take advantage of others or are just there to be marvelled and worshiped by the astonished onlookers (re: Rey), they can be unpleasant.

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, 0 comments

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 526 A return to Mary Sue!

Apr 12, 2021

5 likes, 3 comments

Mary Sues are always a fun topic! There are some misconceptions about them though… Mary Sues aren't all female, they can be any gender. Being super powerful or super popular or super pretty etc doesn't equal a Mary Sue, not even if your character super stands out next to all the others, those things ONLY indicate they might possibly be one. What equals a Mary Sue is a character that doesn't have to struggle very hard for anything, a character that is almost universally admired, and or loved (even by the enemy), a character that masters hard skills with ease and ends up teaching the teachers and beating the masters, a character that's destined to succeed and does in spite of internal story logic… All these things and more can add up to make a Mary Sue.

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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