Monday, January 21, 2008

Superheroes vs Villians: Highlights of Talk at Central Lending Library @ National Library

Superheroes vs Villians: Highlights of Talk at Central Lending Library @ National Library
19th Jan 08
organised by Funix
conducted by Shawn and assisted by Ocean
Attendance: about 8 pple

The focus is primarily on American Superheroes vs Manga Super Villians

Difference between Manga and Superhero comics
East (Japanese) vs West (American)

- As Buddhism teaches that everyone can become a Buddha, the comics reflect that.
Christianity teaches that Jesus Christ is the Chosen One, and that heavily influenced the comics.

- Characters, often commoners, can have wide range of job scope: sushi chef, race car driver etc.
Characters usually special: an alien, a princess etc

- Good and evil characters are humanized, with shades of grey.
Good and evil characters are clearly plain good or downright evil.

- Hero must train, go through many trials of fire and hardship before attaining status.
Hero often bestowed powers which developed little over time.

- Heroes embrace their powers (which is why Hiro, the only Asian in the hit tv series Heroes, was the only one who immediately decided his powers are for saving the world).
Heroes see their powers as burdens that often hurt those they love (Spiderman and Superman). The Americans in Heroes hated their powers.

- Strategy and cunning important in attaining victories.
Win by brute strength.

- Pursuit of skills often seen a end by itself.
Personal vendetta against criminals and wrong doers.

Western Superheroes

1. ultra muscular and masculine / square jaws
2. duo identity (an unseen God) protects family and friends
3. an equal + opposite super villain
4. funny clothes (tights)
5. childhood trauma
6. confidantes / sidekicks (now defunct)
7. love interests
8. mentor / source of power
9. strong moral base

How to create your own superhero?

1. stereotypes – appearance should immediately clue people in on their origin (American Indian? Ninja?)
2. physical affects the emotional – appearance influenced by nature of super power
3. motivation – origin story affects and shapes hero’s nature and behavior
4. visual communication – gadgets, costumes, poses
5. excessive traits – eg. Magneto as a result of extreme reaction to Holocaust, Poison Ivy as a result of extreme love of nature, Joker is extremely vain, ambitious and an incessant attention seeker

Give your superhero a biography

1. name
2. gender
3. star sign
4. occupation
6. dislikes
7. weakness
8. powers/abilities
9. personality
10. background story

Strategy for thinking out of the box

Take a classic villain from Japanese Manga and pit his wits against the Superhero you created.

PS: This is a method reported by a recent cover story of WIRED magazine, about Manga fans self-publish comic books where established characters from different stories are put together to create unexpected and refreshing new plots and scenarios. The Japanese comic establishment allows this, even though there is a clear infringement of copyright laws, and uses this to uncover new comic talents. In America, such a situation cannot occur as DC and Marvel's legal teams would rigorously pursue the offenders.

Contributed by Otto Fong

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