Super Powers

I could easily tip into a rant on this topic.  But here is my basic premise:

Super Powers are a shortcut for creativity.

And by super powers I am including extreme martial arts skills, super genius intelligence and freaky mutations.  Somehow, these have become all to common in animation.

Charlie Chaplin taught us that comedy is the little guy against the big world.  All he has are his wits.  Cartoon characters used to have to prove themselves.  They start off as underdogs and by effort and cleverness they win.

I’m not saying we should never use super powers, but it can’t define the character.  The character has to demonstrate more individuality than suddenly achieving that long sought kung fu move or whipping up a new invention to save himself.

Cartoon characters by nature have at least one super power.  They can’t die.

Playing against type

Playing against type is a common method of creating funny characters.  It involves a character whose voice or behavior is in extreme opposition to their physical appearance.  Here are some examples:

  1. A sweet little girl has extreme martial arts skills.
  2. An old granny who is a fantastic acrobat.
  3. An effeminate homeboy.
  4. A big muscular guy who worries about breaking a finger nail.
  5. A Troll who is an effeminate homeboy.

Of course you wouldn’t want to overuse the technique because it would create a world you couldn’t believe in.   It’s better to use it sparingly, it’s funnier that way.  If you were, for example, to put all those characters in a film together, the results would be a disorienting calamity.

SUCH AS HOODWINKED TWO

Yes, the writers of Hoodwinked 2 try to make nearly every character a contradiction. How can you connect with any of them?  The effect is funny at first, but the joke can wear out quickly.   The wolf who is just plain stupid isn’t really a contradiction, but he’s…  just plain stupid.  The troll who is an effeminate homeboy even doubles down on the technique.  The only character I find the tiniest bit interesting is the frog, who appears to be the straight man,  and it’s because he’s not like the others.  It really is best if no more than 1 secondary character plays against his or her type.

 

 

Comic Obsession

I must recommend the blog by Mark Kennedy, “The Temple of the Seven Golden Camels.” It is packed full of images and information from an active story artist. His post about comic obsession is particularly interesting to me. He describes the development of the horse Maximus in the film “Tangled”, including the inspiration from Tommy Lee Jone’s character from “The Fugitive.”

Comic Obsession

It is easy to think of comic obsession in cartoons. Wile E. Coyote’s obsession with the Roadrunner, Sylvester with Tweety, Scrat with the acorn.

If we consider the old expression “Nobody likes a quitter” to be true, then the inverse, “Everybody likes a character who will not quit no matter what” would also be true. Such characters earn our admiration.

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