Comparing Charmed to Supernatural, a part of me wants to take both T.V. shows, throw them into a bag, and shake them up.
Both feature siblings attempting to fight supernatural enemies in a modern world with a couple of similarities in concepts and storylines, but the actual execution is fairly different.
Even as a child, I was bothered by Charmed’s black and white mentality. Good versus evil. Tepid handling of death and pure sense of justice. Watching it, now that I’m older, I wish for a little more darkness and horror in their storylines, some grit and higher stakes.
Supernatural has that. It isn’t squeamish about killing innocent people, or making good bad and the bad ugly. It’s fairly graphic and heartless at times, yet it quickly gets to a point where you lack any sort of hope. Everyone dies. I don’t think they know how to end something without a death. Even the main characters are murdered or horribly sacrificed on multiple occasions.
I like that Charmed, with its female cast, has romantic subplots throughout its seasons, that the characters and their situations undergo change, evolving their lifestyles over the seasons. In the course of the eight years, one character launches a business, gets married, and has two children. Supernatural tends to fight interesting directions and change in attempts to bring back the status quo. No love story lasts long, and to be honest, I haven’t found any potential partner interesting enough to want them to stick around.
Mainly, the comparison of the two series got me thinking about what I wanted in a story, the appropriate amount of death to bring into play. I certainly don’t enjoy the meaningless slaughter of multiple characters just to tug at the heart strings. I hate killing off smaller characters who won’t be missed just for the same reason. Just because they’re not important to me doesn’t mean they’re not important. I like to know that death means something, and believe that if resurrection is possible, it should be foreshadowed more or less early on.
I like the idea that people can die, the moral ambiguity when bad things happen to good people, the tension created by uncertainty of if a character will survive, but it shouldn’t be the only thing on people’s minds either. I enjoy not constantly worrying in Charmed about the unfair deaths, but it also feels great to see someone finally survive in Supernatural.
Which brings me to my problem.
I’m currently working to get ahead on Mighty Morphin’ Canine Tales and I’ve come to a portion which I think will set the stage for the rate of mortality in the world. We’ve been following some minor characters who I’m not entirely sure will be ever seen again after this story arc, and they’ve been attacked.
Now is the time to demonstrate the danger that everyone’s been afraid of, the difference of power in the creatures they fight and the average set of humans. My first instinct was to kill a character who happened to be standing there, someone who had done enough talking that a little bit of attachment has formed around him, but not enough to be truly devastated by the loss.
However, I’m hesitant. I actually don’t want my readers to be uncomfortable during the comic. It’s supposed to be fun with some dark undertones, just the way I like it. If I kill this character as a meaningless casualty, I’ll have to keep it up, and it will definitely change the mood I’ve imagined for the next couple of scenes.
I believe death should be applied in moderation. I believe I might be predisposition for suicidal thoughts, though nothing I would as of yet define so has occurred. Regardless, throwing away characters because they’re not important to the leads, using them as a cheap means to hit people in the feels, or just solving a problem with death all say something about our mortality and an individual’s value that I don’t want to promote. Everyone is valuable. All deaths mean something. Moreover, you grow insensitive to it. Knowing a character is going to die because they always do takes away the impact of it.
I also have found that the willfulness to let go of minor characters while the protagonists constantly survive just increases the non-credibility of the situation, reminding the audience of the invulnerability endued on them by the author.
I have a few days to make a decision, and the comic will change depending on which direction I choose to go. How dark versus how whimsical? Ideally, I’d want both, that each fight scene could go either way. Sometimes optimism, sometimes pessimism. Unexpected success, unexpected failure. But if I were to be honest with myself, I’m not sure how much I’d enjoy reading it. Despite the thrill of unforeseen survival, sometimes I want to be safe, excited for a battle, and not slapped across the preverbal face by a sudden death.
I guess I’ll have to keep an eye out for books that have a less predictable mortality rate and see what I think.
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