Hey there /lit/, posting this from my phone, so I didn't have a better picture.
Comic artist/ theorist here, I was hoping /lit/ could help me answer a question. I'm writing a story for a graphic novel and I've developed a kind of character dynamic that I don't think has ever come up before. Then again, what do I know, I'm a comic artist, I don't read as many books as anyone here probably has.
Anyways my question is this:
My antagonist is public figure that "must not be seen" as far as his antagonistic characteristics are. He is however, secretly capable of powers bestowed upon him by a god.
He has created two puppets that carry out his will, two masked/ cloaked characters that are visually themed on the concept of duality (dark/ light, ying/ yang, etc) that ultimately lead the protagonists exactly where he wants them to be.
The white cloaked character appears to the readers as an ally, helping the protagonists along their journey (by saving them, or putting things in motion that help them)
The black cloaked character appears to be hindering our heroes on their journey (by assisting different antagonists of each subplot)
So my question remains, has that been done? Is there a name for that character dynamic? Archetype?
It does get a little convoluted, so if I'm not being clear or this needs more explanation, please let me know.
Now obviously the fact that the white cloaked character is A.) Cloaked and B.) Visually similar to the Black Cloaked character makes them suspicious.
I do however, have red herrings left and right for the identities of the cloaked figures throughout the story.
I even intend for parts where I "show" parts of their face or other features that will lead the reader to believe that the cloaked figures are actually someone else.
When in fact, they are merely puppets made by the godlike powers of the antagonist, who capable of shape shifting.
Alright OP, I do like the idea of the two cloaked characters as extensions of the same agent, but I'm not sure about the public figure thing or how he's an antagonist rather than a neutral presence, given the duality of the cloaked characters.
If you want a book recommendation, the closest thing to this that I've read is... Probably Steppenwolf? Hesse was a fan of Eastern mysticism so his writing is often aware of these dualities. In the story, the main character, a recluse (the "steppenwolf"), begins going out with a young woman, whom he realizes is connected to his male childhood friend. Near the end everything sort of dematerializes, the woman is a genderless demigod who helped prompt him into enlightenment, and his antagonist is kind of the creator of the universe. It's hard to explain, but it might give you an example of what you need. Good luck!
Also, if you're less familiar with Eastern philosophy, I would highly recommend Alan Watts. First listen to his lectures, you can find all of them on YouTube, he talks often about the necessity and neutrality of duality.
Ooh, I'll have to check them out, thank you.
To explain the Antagonist, he's a member of the Elder Council, the ruling party of one of the world's nations. They are a long lived race who have a strict caste system based around knowledge and wisdom.
They also have tenets that forbid misuse of knowledge, and reaching above one's station.
The antagonist has broken those tenets by researching forbidden knowledge and uncovering the original God of the world (who had been betrayed and locked away by the 12 other gods he had spawned)
He needs one of the protagonist characters to reach a certain destination to achieve his goals, but he also needs to keep any suspicion away from him while he does it. So he incorporates the use of these two puppet characters to sort of lead the characters to the desired location, much like how a cattle prod is used to keep a cow on the correct path.
Symbolically speaking, the representation of duality exists to convey the notion of good and evil, and how ultimately neither one truly exists
(Both characters were merely the extensions of the antagonist, whose goal is very much morally grey)
>He needs one of the protagonist characters to reach a certain destination to achieve his goals
OP here, Internet cut out last night
The certain location is the heart of a mountain which is a sacred place to a race of coal based life-forms who have been searching for a prophesized item whose description matches that of the McGuffin
According to their prophecy, by bringing this item to the sacred place, they will bring their God into this world. Which, in a world where each race has a patron God, this is important to them. Their race have only recently surfaced a few centuries before the events of the story.
In truth, unbeknownst to them, their entire race had been created by the antagonist (who had been granted God-like powers by the Bigger Bad) for the sole purpose of recovering the MacGuffin. The MacGuffin is actually the key to bringing the One True God into this world, and the protagonist who carries the MacGuffin is the Vessel.
I should be more clear on the patron God thing.
Each race in this world has a patron God, they have had these gods all throughout the Millenia.
The coal based creature race though, have only appeared in this world in the past few centuries (thanks to the machinations of the antagonist), and therefore have no patron deity.
They are a zealous people who will stop at nothing to manifest their own God, so that they may take their rightful place in the pantheon of the other gods.
Of course, their "God" is actually the shade of the One True God, who had been locked away by the other 12 Gods, who is orchestrating all of this through his emissary, the antagonist.
(Short exposition on the Gods, the creation story is that the One True God, also refered to as the Twelve Faced God, spawned the 12 other gods to do his bidding in the creation of the world. They, in their fear of his greater power over them, locked him away, and crafted the world to their liking)
The answer to your question is that no, there isn't a specific word for that sort of dynamic although something similar has undoubtedly been done before. Given that it doesn't matter and you seem more interested in telling us your story idea than finding that out, I'll tell you that the story you've explained so far does sound intriguing as far as comics go, but you need to stop explaining it to us as you'll get your dopamine hit from this and lose motivation to actually write and illustrate it. Go on, piss off and get on with it.
Fair enough Anon, I am definitely getting that dopamine hit from explaining it, although, I guess it was more like I was glad to explain it because it would clarify anything that I may not have made clear (which, in turn, would allow to explain my story)
Anyways, thank you Anon. I know the old saying, "there is nothing original left to make" or some such, so I'm glad I've developed an uncommon character dynamic, now I just have to focus on HOW I tell it.
If any of you /lit/ guys have questions on comic theory, this thread will be here a while.
I see, although good and bad *do* exist...
So the Emissary has watched the twelve god-races come and go...and while he hasn't played a direct role in their downfall, he's watched and drawn conclusions from it.
Previous emissaries have witnessed the rise of the coal-based lifeforms, and have been effectively re-aligning them, building them up toward the aim of bringing the current Protagonist atop their mountain.
The theme is Manichaean, but the archetype is essentially that of the one god, controlling a puppeteer, controlling a Janus figure. The coal-based lifeforms see the Janus and act accordingly in their own self-interest, or are warned off bad behaviour.
You have few questions. Did you want a summation of motivations or an ending to your story?
>Is there a name for that character dynamic? Archetype?
"Yes, I can help you with your problem. That's my job. First, you must fill out all these forms and waivers. In triplicate. Then submit them ... no, I do not accept forms. Down the hall to your right. If they lose them do not resubmit copies, you will be denied due to anti-paperwork redundancy measures. I have the form for a document search if that happens, and I know who best to submit it to for best results."
Opportunity and obstacles. Evocative of a force of nature. Etc.
Suggestion -- look up the description Asimov writes for Trantor (which is a character of a sort) as it is seen by the POV of Lathan Devers in the first part of of his book: "Foundation and Empire."
>now I just have to focus on HOW I tell it.
What you've suggested is quite ambitious, so you'll have to do a fair few story arcs exploring the world and misdirecting the reader before you get into the meat of it. Give the protagonists a reason to combat the dark puppet then have the light one introduced later on "helping" them beat him but done in a way that furthers the big bad's plans. Good luck.
Close, but no cigar.
I'll have to look into Manichean themes to find a nice basis for my work.
But there has only ever been one Emissary, that being the Antagonist.
While his contemporaries have also seen the birth and rise of this new race, theirs is an isolationist race who consider themselves the oldest and wisest of races, and the others races are considered "beneath them."
They can be very arrogant, and it is very rare that we see them outside their homelands.
Also, near in mind, I am a hapless nerd, so most of my writing inspirations come from The Elder Scrolls series (particularly the lore), and the Final Fantasy series of games.
your idea is stupid
you're writing for plot not for story you fucking dumbass
Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't even answer your question.
The unifying theme is "purpose," whether or not we are free to choose our own purpose, or if purpose is something we are given (I.e. fate, destiny, etc)
The ending is something that I'm pondering on, but it will end either one of two ways;
I've always loved the way the Final Fantasy games present the protagonists with a choice, and the answers are A or B, and they always choose the best answer...
The main character develops from being a no good punk, to finding his purpose in protecting the love interest.
The love interest (the Vessel for the One True God), must choose between defying the One True God and not being the Vessel, which would lead to the world's ruin (by lack of divine presence) or by allowing the One True God to manifest through her and reshape the world (I.e. Destroy it and make it anew)
She chooses answer C
I actually have a series of sub plots laid out to do that, in which each of the supporting characters are central focus.
During the course of each subplot, each character finds their "purpose" and overcomes their past selves.
Thanks for the encouragement!
Focus is good but soft focus is better. Let each plot arc help each one find their purpose but do your best to keep all the other characters actively involved in it. Readers will have favourite and least favourite characters, if they get to a plot arc that's all about their least favourite and doesn't make use of their favourite then chances are they'll lose interest. Similarly they may lose interest after their favourite character's arc is done if they feel he or she isn't going to get enough screen time following it. Balance is essential.
dude this is a class for people going to SCHOOL to draw COMIC BOOKS
cut him some literary slack
plot is the sequence of in-universe events which people get caught up in. it sounds like you have a universe running in your head, and want to put it on paper.
story is the meaning behind that universe. You distill it to the least motion, the least words. the meaning behind what you're trying to write about. What is the MESSAGE of your writing?
Thank you Anon! My writer friend was telling me something similar just the other day.
I'd guess I'd say I do have the MEAT of each subplot, but not the rest. Do you have any tips on how to make it a soft focus, instead of putting too much focus on the supporting characters?
Ah, thank you Anon! That's most helpful.
I've definitely been giving the plot a lot of attention, but the story is still there.
I've always considered myself an existentialist, and I've always loved Nietszche's work. (I was led to him by reading on my favorite musician, Jim Morrison, and his inspirations)
The central theme is "purpose," and is even the basis for how magic works in this story. The main characters start out as directionless, purposeless people.
The MC is a ne'er-do-well from the city slums
A mysterious girl who has known nothing but slavery her whole life.
An Assassin whose lifelong target for her revenge is killed by someone other than her
A desperate merchant who is buried in debts
An exiled scholar, outcast from his homeland
Two warriors who betrayed their own people
Each of the subplots focus on them either discovering or redefining their purpose.
The story also explores themes of good vs. evil, and the ultimate revelation that neither one exist.