Friday, October 26, 2012

Dealing with Horror Classics

New ideas are hard to come up with.  New stories are REALLY hard to come up with.  The thing is, no matter what the story, idea, character or whatever is, it will inevitably compared to something that came before.  Hell, it's what I do here.  So what happens when classic character types are introduced into a comic?  They get compared to those who came before.  Let's get more specific and talk about classic monsters, after all, tis the season.

After all, how many comics have vampires in them?  Off the top of my head, Sluggy Freelance, Eerie Cuties, Abandon: Last Vampire (now called Love is in the Blood), Blip and, of course, Vampire Cheerleaders.  Inevitably, any of these vampires will be compared back to Bram Stoker's Dracula.  Most people have a vision of WHAT a vampire is:  drinks blood, can't go in the sun, stake to the heart kills them, etc.  If the character is claimed to be a vampire, these are looked for and if they don't happen, they freak out.  Which is odd since Stoker's vampires, especially Dracula, could go out in the sun and took a bit more than a stake in the heart to kill them.  And even Dracula wasn't the "original" vampire, since those legends had existed long before Stoker wrote his book.

Which oddly brings me to something I never thought I'd mention in seriousness:  Twilight.  Stephenie Meyer developed her own take on the vampire, and it wasn't much like a traditional one at all.  In fact, it royally pissed off everyone but fans of the book series.  I've never actually read any of Twilight and it's sequels, so I cannot nor will not comment on the quality of the writing (which I hear is poor), but I do have to lightly applaud Meyer for trying to reinvent the vampire as a concept.  It's tough to do such a thing and actually make it successful.

Now she probably could have gotten away with it if the work itself wasn't poor at best.  This is the danger of playing with these classic monsters.  Going beyond their accepted design can prove the unending of a comic.  Sluggy got around it by claiming their are multiple families of vampires so different varieties can exist.  Eerie Cuties uses it's own internal logic and humor to allow them to violate some (but not all) horror tropes.  Vampire Cheerleaders explains walking around in the day by using tanning beds.  These are weird solutions, but it works thanks to good writing and believable scenarios.

It also points out that there is room to maneuver with the classics.  The Frankenstein Monster has gone through several verisons from Mary Shelly's original concept, to Boris Karlov's green monster to Blip's take on the concept.  Werewolves vary from an uncontrollable beast like in the Universal Classics, to the Werewolf of London in Spinnerette, who is a Canadian superhero.

It can be done, it has been done, just be careful on doing it.  Classic horror monsters and characters must be treated with respect not just because they're classics, but because readers KNOW they're classics and either know or think they know the rules.  Rewriting those rules should only be done with careful consideration and with creativity.  Of course, correcting those rules can be just as dangerous, but a lot more fun.

Until next time kiddies.

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