Author: Chris Arnone

National Graphic Novel Writing Month Day 18: Starring Roles– The Importance of Character Analysis

National Graphic Novel Writing Month Day 18: Starring Roles– The Importance of Character Analysis

“It’s the
characters, stupid.”

    – Ronald D. Moore, Executive
Producer of Battlestar Galactica
(2004) and Caprica

Comics are
always filled with over-the-top superpowers, bright spandex costumes, and
universe-spanning storylines. While these flashy props were enough to sustain
the comics industry in its infancy, the modern comic reader expects more. Many
of the biggest, most complex stories are known for their iconic moments with
their characters.

DC’s Final Crisis saw the return of Darkseid
and a time-travelling bullet, but we all remember it for the simple image of
Superman holding the lifeless body of his best friend – Batman – in his arms,
sorrow filling Big Blue’s face. Marvel’s Civil
brought heroes toe to toe with one another, splitting teams and
friendships alike. What became iconic was the bitter struggle between two men
who used to be best friends: Iron Man and Captain America, then Stark’s grief
over his actions leading inexorably to the death of Steve Rogers. 

Imagine a
photo in a frame. A couple is standing in front of the Eiffel Tower, quite
happy. The frame is a fun pewter souvenir from the Tower itself. The focus –
however – is still the couple. Stories are just the same. We may set it in a
creative, dramatic setting. We may dress it up with superpowers, costumes, or
deep philosophic meanings. None of this works, however, without the characters
to drive the story. If the characters don’t ring true, the entire story falls
apart. Characters are how we – the reader – access, understand, and empathize
with a story. 

When dissecting your characters, whether protagonist,
antagonist, or a mere cameo appearance; they need to feel real. The
three-dimensionality of a character can make or break your story, no matter how
brilliant of a plot you’ve devised or how epic the setting. Creating a
believable character involves a precarious balance between two not-so-small
aspects: uniqueness and universality.