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 425 - Pay-off or rip-off?

May 6, 2019

3 likes, 0 comments

In this Quackcast we chat about set-ups. pay-offs, and rip-offs. To make your climaxes and endings more satisfying you have pay-offs for audience expectations: set them up in the story and pay them off at the end. If you fail to pay-off then you get a rip-off, it's pretty simple. Your audience will be really disappointed. That's not to say disappointing and unsatisfying ends to stories are wrong, not at all! Often those are fully intended. We're just talking about satisfying audiences, not “good” endings.

Episode 422 - Positive promotion and controversial characters

Apr 15, 2019

4 likes, 0 comments

The entire gang comes together today for two topics that were taken from recent newsposts: Emma Clare's Positive self promotion, and Tantz Aerine's Handling Controversial Characters. First up we chat about why it's always a great idea to sell yourself positively, NOT be arrogant or douchey, but rather by talking enthusiastically about what you genuinely love about your work and using that REAL and SINCERE enthusiasm to infect others with your love of what you do. Emma was mainly talking about the way you introduce your comics to friends and family but it definitely applies more broadly to self promotion in general: Don't try and get sympathy through self depreciation (oh, it's not very good…), and don't be an arrogant ass (My stuff is AWESOME!), rather you should just be honest about what you love about it (This story was so FUN to write!).

Episode 418 - Many kinds of love

Mar 18, 2019

3 likes, 4 comments

There are many kinds love. Love is a great thing to include in your story for all sorts of reasons: it's an easy way to develop characters, give a character something to strive for, it's universally relatable, You can use it for tension, all sorts of things! There are different kinds of relationships you can use as well, not just heterosexual or homosexual relationships and the common trope of showing the beginning of a relationship, you can show crushes, established relationships, platonic relationships, relationships collapsing and exes coming together. For this topic we were loosely inspired by Tantz and Emma's great newsposts about romance and platonic love. We chat about luuuurv and tricks like lurv triangles!

Episode 413 - Breaking structure

Feb 11, 2019

3 likes, 0 comments

It's just Ozoneocean and bouncy Banes today. This time we're chatting about breaking and subverting structures, formulas and conventions in webcomics. Commercial creative projects need to use formulas and familiar structures because that's what audiences expect, it's also what studio executives, creative editors, publishers, producers and all the people that greenlight those projects need and expect as well. The Hero's Journey and other conventions and formulas aren't just used because they make good stories but because of the commercial realities and risk averse nature of the industry (there's a lot of money and jobs on the line). Webcomics don't have those pressures so we're talking about why webcomics shouldn't necessarily adhere to popular formulas and structures and why many don't.

Episode 410 - Say My Name

Jan 20, 2019

3 likes, 0 comments

Coming up with character names can be a real challenge because once you settle on one they can define the character just as much as their personality and looks! Names also affect how you name other characters: are they too similar, like Betty and Barney? Will it be an unintentionally meaningful combo like George and Washington? There are so many things to consider, it can be daunting. In this Quackcast we talk about some of the methods that duckers have used to come up with character names. It's pretty novel and interesting, anything from using friend's names, names that have special meaning to them, names that have inerrant meaning, names that deliberately have NO meaning, place-holder names, names from the phonebook and more. Your options, methods, and reasons are endless! Tell us what's behind YOUR character names!

Episode 406 - Amateur Vs Pros Merry Christmas DD!

Dec 23, 2018

5 likes, 2 comments

Merry Christmas one and all! And all that stuff. This year our release date falls exactly on the 25th! It was a busy year for us, lots happened. But in this Quackcast what we chat about is something rather different: the difference between pros and amateurs, specifically when it comes to comics. There's this common misconception that an amateur is a novice that will produce work of a lower quality, while a professional is an experienced person who knows what they're doing and will always produce things of the highest quality… The REAL story is more complex than that.

Episode 403 - Eat yer serial!

Dec 2, 2018

2 likes, 0 comments

This Quackcast was inspired by a newspost by Tantz. There seems to be this prevailing idea at the moment that serialised storytelling is better than episodic style stories. Tantz informs me that it's one of the many Twitterverse controversies! So let me explain what I mean here: Episodic story telling is when most of the story you're telling can be parcelled into the course of an episode: you can have a strong beginning, middle and satisfying conclusion in the course of your episode, whether that takes the form of a comic chapter, a page, a strip, or a half hour TV show. The Serial style has things stretching over multiple chapters or TV episodes. What we talk about in this Quackcast is that it's an utterly false dichotomy: You do not have to have either or, in fact most projects have elements of BOTH at the same time and it's a little foolish to think that one style could possibly be inherently superior to the other since they're just tools for telling a story. It is up to the creator to pick which one is right for their own work and the context in which it's going to be shown.


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