Friday, September 25, 2015

Sympathy for the Devil

Talking about Errant Story reminds me of an article I did about villains last year.  While I will go into more detail at the end of The Classic, Ian is never portrayed as an irredeemable villain, a monster or otherwise.  The reader gets to know him early on and comes to sympathize with him and his decisions, to the point that some are just fine with the genocide he attempts.  Maybe that went a little too far.

Still, presenting the "villain" (and I use quotes for a reason you'll soon see) in a sympathetic light is a good idea.  Almost no one is purely good or evil, not even the Austrian corporal we all know and loath.  This creates a complete character, one that is more than just a cardboard cutout of a villain.

Gunnerkrigg Court does this pretty much across the board.  Many characters do not-nice-things, but I doubt many, if any of them, can be called outright evil.  While many fans were suspecious of various characters, none would say so and so is a villain, evil, or the devil.

Then came Chapter 51:  The Tree, and everything went nuts.

Anthony Carver is Antimony's father and has been basically absent from the entire proceedings since the comic began.  The only times we saw him was in flash backs to his childhood, and then there was a phone call in Chapter 37 which seems to have lead to Annie being placed in a coma in Chapter 38.  Zimmy says outright it was Annie's father, but why?  What was he trying to do?  Was it on purpose or an accident?  As I suggested sometime after the event, maybe he wasn't responsible at all.  Like many of the characters in the Court, he was met with suspicion, but nothing more.

Then he shows up as a biology teacher and careens through the comic, and the fandom, like a mad bulldozer.  I won't get into specifics, but in the span of one chapter, Tony went from being a background character of some minor importance and interest, to being the Devil himself, someone irredeemable in every way shape and form.  Watching this develop amongst the various fan groups (not even the official forums, where I hear it was far, far worse) was amazing and terrifying.  The sheer hatred some expressed for him was unbelievable.

The following chapter, 52, made things even worse.  Annie seemed to regress in a way that angered many, at least one declared they weren't following the comic any more because of it, and they all blamed Tony for ruining her character.  We saw a bit more of what was going on, but it only from outside of Tony's perspective, and that just made things worse.  The rage over this one character was amazing, remarkable, and unbelievable.

Chapter 53:  Annie and the Fire clarified a few of the issues.  Annie cut her own hair in order to remain in control of her emotions, that wasn't dictated by her father as many suspected, and the loose fire spirit that resulted is, um, well independent, but incorporeal.

The real gem though was that we finally got to hear Tony's side of the story.  The incdent with Annie's illness was explained (it wasn't meant to hurt Annie, and he was glad Zimmy sucker punched him before it finished).  Why he was coming down so hard on her was also partially explained, and I will admit I guessed it, as he was protecting her from the Court itself.  The real meat was his reaction to Surma (that's Annie's mom) dying, and the fact that he couldn't save her.  It ripped him up and, as Coyote says in the next chapter, he's a Broken Man because of it.

Donald, Kat's dad and the one who got Tony to open up to him and secretly Annie, made a point about the whole exchange.  It explains why he did it, but doesn't excuse it.  Yes, he did some horrible things, and will never win father of the year, but he did so because he felt it was the best, perhaps the only, way to protect his daughter.

Eventually, Annie and her father will have to confront each other on all of this.  It will either be very messy, or very heart breaking.  Possibly both.  When that happens, though, I think this entire sequence will be justified and I look forward to it.  Still, there is a lot of rage at Anthony, and it won't be going away any time soon.

I think Tom Siddell knows this, and tried to show a mirror up to his fans with the opening of Chapter 53, showing a raging fire spirit, impotent to destroy her environment, attempt to use sheer rage to burn a picture of young Tony she happened to see.  And when the chapter was all over, Annie calmly says "see, he had his reasons" and the spirit went into yet another rage, just like the fans themselves.

Next time, um, maybe a Touching Base.  Nasty busy week coming.  Until then kiddies.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Nothingness is a thing now

This week can be blamed on lazy.  And work, but work is always blamable for nothing.  Next week.

Friday, September 11, 2015

The Classic: Volume Five

Volume Five of Errant Story is, well, long.  In fact, I kept having to check back to see how far into the volume I was as there are no more volume covers, and there are a lot of chapters. It's not the most (Volume Seven is 9 chapters), but compared to Volume One and it's measly 5 it feels excessively large.  And there's a lot going on, a lot.  With every volume my notes get longer and longer.  Not just the number, but just the length of each entry.  There's so much to say, to touch on.

That said, there does seem to be a kind of theme running through this Volume.  I'm not sure if it was on purpose, I suspect not.  Still, it is there, and it has to do with family.

I use the term loosely when it comes to Sarine though.  She makes an off hand comment about one of her "relations" being in the audience of her attempt to bring this whole mess to light, only to comment about hoping to embarrass them.  That said, given the relatively few numbers of elves running around, the entire species could be considered her family, and she doesn't think much of it.  It's been on going since the beginning that she doesn't like other elves, and it's even more apparent here.  She avoids her own people as much as possible, hides as soon as she can, and then plans a raid to rescue Meji, right before they're surprised/captured just outside the elven city.  The fact that she finds better company with an assassin, his sister, and a flying/talking cat says a great deal about her.

Jon and Sara's relationship is more direct, of course, being brother and sister, but no less tumultuous, at least at the beginning.  I said last time that I wasn't sure if Sara intended to kill Jon or not, but that's probably not the right question.  The real question is was she going to do it because it was her task, or because she wanted to.  While she is clearly upset that Jon left her, she yells at him, the most animated she will be in the entire comic, the impression is she's angry because she wanted him to save her, not that she hated him for not doing so.  Jon's response is well reasoned, and apologetic.  His career did not offer him an easy way to care for his little sister, and by the time he found out his mother was dead and sister was orphanage, she had already been taken away by the monks.  Once they have their talk, though, they seem to find a mutual understanding, creating probably the most stable family unit of the main characters.

Meji certainly doesn't.  At least when it comes to her parents.  We won't learn outright until later, but her grandfather does care about her, which is why he's rather hard on her.  Her mother, on the other hand, is exactly as inattentive as she was initially presented.  She really doesn't care about her daughter, and only thinks about her in relation to getting back with Meji's father, something Sarine talks her out of because, well, her father is an elf.  Who are generally predisposed to killing half elves whenever they find them.  It's sheer luck that the whole thing with Ian happened, so instead he kidnaps his daughter and locks her in a cell in the elf city.  That wouldn't have happened, of course, if Meji didn't actually want to meet her father, despite knowing what he might try to do to her.

Then there's Ian, who's mother killed his sister by burning down their house.  You know, the sister he traveled the world and absorbed the powers of an elven god to simply heal.  Yeah he has issues.  Still, he knows he's kind of messed up, so when Anita offers to help him control his powers, if she helps him genocide the elves, he agrees to be her weapon without a thought.  As far as he's concerned, he should be dead already, and if it weren't for Meji, he would be.

And it's through Meji that a strange, new kind of family is formed.  Our heroes form a strange kind of family, which, despite the murderous rampages, assassinations, backstabbing and general dickery are probably more stable than any of the other groups.  Sarine and Jon have a rapidly developing relationship where they seem able to create "routines" between each other without any prior preparation, something that causes Sara to make a joke about it.  Meji is actually wants to help Sarine and Jon when Ian comes to her rescue (he is only concerned with Jon), and of course Ian did come to Meji's aid.  Sarine, despite knowing Ian's current rampage would likely target her as well, is more than willing to try to talk Ian down while Jon sees to Meji who was injured and Sara wants a weapon in case she needs to help protect them all.

Again, the theme is there, kind of.  It wasn't strictly intentional, as much as I can tell, and it isn't perfect, but at the same time, I prefer it that way.  Instead of trying to fit everything into a specific theme, the story just happens to involve it, while it moved along on it's own.  The reader gets a hint of it and has to dig down a bit to find it without it being thrust in their faces.  At the same time, they don't have to, the story doesn't NEED it to work.  I found myself enjoying this Volume far more than the earlier ones partially because of it.

Volume Five furthers the story, digs deeper into the characters and their various connections, and grows around a loose theme that manages to link everything together.  Also, Ian kills a god in this, but that's just a side note in the end.

Next time, Volume Six.  Until then kiddies.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Nothing, this time it's personal

Personal issues are serious enough to derail the blog for a bit.  Hopefully next week, but I'm not crossing my fingers on this.  I'll keep you updated.

And before you ask, I'm not the one in pain or anything.