Why not take the easy way out and make them your usual can of exposition and training?
Very few characters actually make it on their own. Even as loners, they had to learn from somewhere. They had to have a teacher, someone to actually teach them to acquire the skills and traits the author arbitrarily assigned to them.
Someone like a magical talking animal. Or a grizzled washed out wizard. Or the city streets themselves.
What can we learn from barely competent teaching staff and poor hiring standards?
Class is once again in session! Yes, that idiom was to be expected. Yes, you are fully allowed to cringe at me. Just as planned!
Today, I’ll be talking about a staple of fantastic settings and what we can learn from it: The SUPERSCHOOL! One highly popular example of a very involved setting.
Whether it’s an academy, the school, a magical order, or an alien police force, these are institutions built around the idea of collecting what we’d consider “special” and training it to perfection. From Xavier’s School For Gifted Youngsters to the Hogwarts School For Witchcraft And Wizardry, these have been a rich source for potential stories.
The main purpose of these, of course, is to teach superpowered individuals how to responsibly control and use their powers. Otherwise you’ll end up with all sorts of tragedy and collateral damage. Though the mission statement and end goals can vary, ultimately they’re about getting all that power in one place and getting it under control or awarded after rigorous training.
But what’s the deal with these schools? When’s something normal or not, and what’s the nuts and bolts behind it? What can we learn from barely competent teaching staff and poor hiring standards?
We’re talking Scooby-Doo, villain-of-the-week, “tear down the orphanage and build a toxic pollution factory because I love the tears of children” levels of motivation.
Today I’ll be talking about characters you love to hate! Or is that characters you should hate but love? The answer, my readers, is: Yes.
So, everyone knows their own reasons for liking a characters. Could be personality, abilities, design. Could be a snappy one-liner or an achievement you really loved. There are characters we love wholeheartedly, and ones we despise and want to see dead.
But somewhere out there, some characters occupy a sweet spot, a mix of antagonism and admiration. Whatever it is, they share one thing with the characters that matter to you: You enjoy watching them.
Disclaimer: SPOILERS ahead if you live under a rock! Also, that art belongs to James Hance. None of that “pasting art and claiming it’s mine” nonsense.
Sometimes, I work from the ground up, thinking of a topic and then finding examples to fit around it. At other times, I work top-down, looking at my list of saved examples and finding something to say about them. Also, using them as an excuse to share images like these.
Today is one of those top-down examples, drawing from two of geekdom’s favourite tragic dark characters: Darth Vader and Severus Snape.
These two are popular for a number of shared reasons. They’re ‘dark’ characters in style and personality, they have tragic backstories, they smack the heroes around (either physically or verbally), and lost love is a major motivator in their lives.
And, of course, they are the ones behind what are probably THE biggestreveals in their respective fandoms. Reveals which would cement their legacies as tragic anti-heroes.
And that’s what I’ll be talking about today: Reveals.