Saturday, April 29, 2023

The Importance of Sidekicks

I've written before about how Robin was my favorite character growing up - I always liked him more than Batman, and I always ended up taking him as my choice when my best friend and I played Batman and Robin when I was six with the big MEGO figures I had. Burt Ward was my spirit animal.

And that love of sidekicks has translated into a lot of my work. In Army Ants, Vince was my narrative point of view character; he was a new character to the team, and the stories were never about him. He was a witness to stories about Sarge and Gunner and Zak (and even Phil), serving primarily to observe and report.

The thing that has made the Doc Stawlart stories work is not Doc Stalwart - he's actually a pretty generic character. He is a big, strong, impervious dude who is also a scientist. The Thing's powers with Reed Richards' brain. The thing that holds those stories together is Mikah. It's really his journey the reader is following - he just happens to be on the journey with Doc Stalwart. If I was hired to write Superman (which would be AMAZING by the way, but also will never, ever happen), I would have Jimmy Olsen be front and center in his stories. If James Gunn cared what I thought, he'd take my suggestion to make Jimmy a major character in the next Superman film.

Which all brings me to Sky Stawart. I'm interested to tell some stories with him, but he's kind of bland on his own, to be honest. He's just Flash Gordon or Buck Rogers with a scientific mind. That's on purpose. But, the thing that would ground his stories would be a sidekick. I've already used Mikah, so having a parallel character to Mikah doesn't really interest me. The first thought was an empathic teen girl, but isn't that just Mikah with different pronouns? I mean, I could follow her journey to becoming my system's version of a Jedi, but it feels like a story I've already told. I toyed with the idea of going with strange alien, but the whole idea of wanting to use this character as a third-person limited omniscient narrator goes out the window when it's a blob or green monkey helping to tell the story.

Ultimately, I think I came full circle to Kirby my bot. I had written a story with Skye Stalwart (at least the first few thousand words of one), in which Kirby was the POV character and I really liked that. I am hesitant to pry him from Skye Stalwart and send him over to Sky Stalwart, but that seems to work the best. He's the Twiki to my Buck Rogers, and that dynamic works. I'll play with it for a bit and see how it works out...


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