Tuesday, September 23, 2008

dark vs. funny characters

Ponderings on dark vs. light in heroes and villains (that could be applied to most fictional characters and some real people).

Gossip Girls was good last night, but Heroes was made of awesome. It looks like there are lots of twists and turns coming up for both shows. After watching Heroes, the conversation dawn_metcalf and I had about slapstick superheroes came to mind. (I’ve been thinking and blogging a lot about superheroes lately because there are superheroes in my WIP.)

I love dark heroes and flawed characters, but I tend to write lighter, funny stories (with flawed characters). In college, I even painted “happy little dead people,” as one of my classmates called them. Funny books/characters are great, but I’m drawn to dark and brooding. I don’t know what it says about me that I’m drawn to one but can only create the other.

Where there are heroes, there must be villains. A good villain must have some sort of redeeming human quality for the reader to identify with, otherwise he will end up feeling flat rather than 3D. Do your favorite villains have traits that make you sympathize with them?

Heroes and heroines, especially the old comic superheroes, must have a dark side too. Sure, they help people, but they have their demons. I can’t think of a hero character that’s all happy-go-lucky or funny, except maybe The Flash from the animated Justice League (on Cartoon Network). Even though he joked around a lot, there was a whiny quality that made him seem human, and a bit childish. Does your favorite hero or heroine have a dark side or a funny side? Is that why you like them?

All characters need a good balance of light and dark. Lately in books, movies and TV, it seems like the dark side is winning, even in the good characters. Is this a sign of the times we’re going through, or just a current trend that cycles through every few years?

What kind of heroes (super or otherwise) do you like best? Are you drawn to the dark or funny in stories and characters, or a mix? Is what you like to read the same kind of character/story you write?

Book Picks: Flight Anthologies volumes 1-5, edited by Kazu Kibuishi and Flight Explorer Anthology – a version for kids! These books offer a variety of excellent comics. If you’re looking for a way to get started reading graphic novels, or if you already love graphic novels and comics, then these are for you. It’s really fun to see what the different contributors come up with, and some of them have comics in more than one volume. Read and enjoy!


  1. Hmm. I would like to write dark, brooding and deep, but I think my natural voice is lighter and (I hope) funny.

    My villains, I love funny. Witty. the kind you kind of like despite yourself.

  2. Witty villains are great. I like that they can hold their own against the hero, even if they must ultimately lose in the end (or maybe not).

  3. See, I'm a superhero writer too, and I obviously like funny. But not fluff. I think a lot of people confuse the two, forgetting that some of the funniest satires in the world were really meant as political commentary, with all kinds of deep undertones even though they were silly as heck on the surface.

    Wow. Sorry for the rant!

  4. Rant away Carrie! I'm happy you brought up the serious side. I'm trying to weave that in to my story w/o being too obvious. I have a few ideas for what to include, but I'm still mulling over if I want one big issue to be the undercurrent, or several small things that work well together.

    Thanks for the comment fellow superhero writer!