Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Irradiated Memes 3: The Pervert Suit Problem 1

An Answer to the Issue of Chracterization in Comics

1) The Problem is Posed.

So Weisinger & Co. devise a new hero.
Problem: Come up with a metaphor for immigration.
Solution: Space alien.
Corrolary: All bets are off. We can do anything.
Extrapolation: Our hero can do anything.
Result: Add visual elements according to current ideas about space aliens from Flash Gorden etc., and bingo, you've got a hit.

Creative Mythology Analysis: He's Nietzsche's Ubermensch (i.e. our aspirations for self-transcendence). Call him Superman.

2) Brand Extension.

Problem: Capitalize on success of Superman.
Solution: More of the same, but different.
Corollary: More metaphors.
Flash = Speed (Futurism equated Modernism with Speed)
Batman = Intelligence + Mystery (Savage + Shadow) = Dectective = Investigative Mind
Green Lantern = Genie in the Lamp = Wish Fulfillment
Wonder Woman = ... Hey, wouldya take a look at those!

Creative Mythology Analysis: Start with Sky God, create Pantheon.

3) Protecting the Brand.

Problem: Company tanking thanks to Seduction of the Innocent.
Solution: Recover old properties.
Corollary: Old properties not fitting modern mythology which is now scientific. Update costumes, throw in pseudo-science.
Extrapolation: Create interactions between characters to reinforce dodgy ontology, and reinforce the brand.
Result: Justice League of America.

Creative Mythology Analysis: Transformation of original concept to new paradigm; reinforcement of American aspiration (now stripped of 19th Century trimmings of Marx and Nietzsche).

4) Creating Competition.

Problem: DC have a lock on the market.
Solution: Introduce Bourgeois Humanism.
Corollary: Characters still need to be Archetypal to succeed.
Extrapolation: Create metaphors for human experience. Add pathetic love lives.
Spiderman = Adolescence.
Daredevil = Justice.
Fantastic Four = Family.
Hulk = Rationality vs. Emotion.
Dr. Strange = Religion.
X-Men = Alienation.
Captain America = Patriotism.
Ant Man = Giant Man = Inferiority complex.
Iron Man = Science! Hah! Take that, DC!

Creative Mythology Analysis: DC now owns the anthropomorphism of concepts; Marvel owns idealisation of experience.

5) Consumer Confidence Crisis

Problem: Self-doubt inflicted in consumers on base metaphors: America and Humanism.
Solution 1 (DC): Hide head in sand.
Solution 2 (Marvel): Adapt to new circumstances.
Corollary: Marvel's existential heroes extend self-doubt from love life to purpose, while DC loses market share.
Extrapolation: Marvel now able to create new franchises of humanistic characters.
Silver Surfer = Alienation.
Warlock = Alienation.
Killraven = Alienation.
Deathlock = Alienation.
Howard the Duck = Alienation.
Black Panther = Alienation.
Shang-Chi = Alienation.
Captain Marvel = Alienation.
Defenders = Alienation.
Captain America = Alienation.
Monster Craze = Alienation.

Creative Mythology Analysis: Reinforcement of Character as Adolescence Analogue; The Gods are now Human. The stage is set for X-Men/Spiderman domination. But also set for market collapse once America recovers its confidence.


Blogger Brian Cronin said...


I love the consumer crisis bit, that is so true, and heck, I think there are a few more that you could have added to that list from that time period!

4/28/2005 04:27:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

>>So Weisinger & Co. devise a new hero.<<

Come again?

- J. Kevin Carrier

4/28/2005 06:54:00 PM  

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