Round 2: vs. Bubbha vs. Prince Charming
A lot of what I'm gonna talk about here is what I coulda, shoulda, woulda done in hindsight as well as a healthy dose of self-flagellation- so I apologize in advance if you're annoyed by that.
In all honesty, I was not very inspired by this match-up, and much of this round felt like work to me. Furthermore, I was sick with the flu and only had a single day off to create my round. This round felt more like an endurance test and I wasn't very keen on testing the value method- and the temptation to just fall back on old ways was there (I never talked about being sick or short on time because as a general rule, you never want your opponent to feel confident that they could achieve victory, otherwise that confidence will show up in their work, and the audience will always pick up on it, no matter how subliminal it is, and also it would have given myself an excuse to acquiesce to uncontrollable factors, which must be dealt with given how an SDT is run).
That said, the challenge was fitting in Bubbha into a fantasy world. Bubbha wasn't a particularly deep character to me, but from the character design I could extrapolate a wormy personality hidden within a hard exterior called Bubbha armed with a big gun- which gave off the feeling that this character had an extreme inferiority complex. He was also jailed and caged at some point- which would contribute to a feeling of powerlessness. Fine- the guy has a big chip on his shoulder, we'll run with that. The idea of the inferiority complex on my part wasn't too fleshed out, since I had already moved onto more psychological themes in a feverish grasp of connecting all the characters together thematically.
I looked into Charming and his entourage, and I somehow at some point made the connection using Karl Jung's ideas that people in your life represents aspects of your personality, that is how I was able to not depict Charming or develop him in a typical way because I let Crate and Shad speak on his behalf as aspects of himself. Crate speaks on behalf of the part of Charming that desires to grow and serve the realm, while Shad spoke on behalf of the side of Charming that is full of resentment towards the previous king and wallows. I then moved onto the Charming's relationship with his father and women (concerning his desire to connect with the opposite sex)- and brought a Freudian aspect concerning Charming's father. This Freudian idea is called the Phallus, and it was what allowed me to connect Charming, Antares and Bubbha together thematically. Let me explain.
Not to get too deep into it, the phallus holds a lot of significance in ancient religion-
this is something I would like to say to those who wish to be better writers- I find it necessary- not recommended- necessary- to have a decent knowledge in either history, religion, folklore, psychology or all of the above- if the Hero's Journey as the main western writing method holds true in its usage today, then its imperative to know that it is based off of an analysis of ancient myth and stories- and that the western form of the Hero's Journey is incomplete without knowledge of such myths that its extrapolated from.
That said- without getting to deep into it, I used the concept of the phallus alongside all of the ideas connected to it to design a psychodrama of phallus vs. yoni- Bubbha giving voice to Charming's phallus (he is introduced riding in a suggestively shaped space-ship) and father complex, and Antares giving voice to Charming's anima, or more specifically the anima as femme fatale (she represents a combination of both the desired mate of Charming, the witches who cursed him as well as the Freudian desire to die in orgasm as described in the concept of petit le mort
), I set Charming's characterization into his future as going through a cycle of failure trying to break the curse (curse of the phallus that is) before ultimately giving up and becoming the passive character I depicted him to be. I further accentuated his passivity as being unable to do anything to object to Antares, who had total control over how his curse would be broken.
So Charming's growth is a rather nasty one, one where he ends up with two curses in the end, the curse of his father's phallus, and the curse of the vengeful anima brought on by his guilt of trying to exorcise the first curse (which resulted in the death of multiple maidens). In the end, the anima curse won out because subtext-wise, the fright of encountering Bubbha was enough for him to completely divorce himself from the part of him that wants to grow to be a king (the king being another kind of symbolic phallus) and commit a symbolic abdication (subtext wise, and in hindsight admittedly if I was a better writer I would have recognized this and played it up).
Charming sort of mirror's Antares's position in the previous round, since they both abandoned life as a hero in their own capacities. (Crate mirrors Knife-Eater in that they both wanted to serve the people as heroes)
If you didn't catch any of that with which character represents what, its okay- just know that it worked because these representations (if they hold true, and they held true enough for the story to function) registered on a subconscious level in theory (Karl Jung's theories to be more precise). If theres one thing to take away from me trying to explain what I'm trying to do with Jung, Freud, psychology and myth is that the subconscious is far more important in story-telling than the rational mind, and that as story-tellers, your ultimate goal is to cause the rational mind to relax enough with reasonable, logical plot progression in order to begin speaking to the subconscious of the audience.
The Value Method comes in at page 4 and 5 when Shad and Crate had a clash- which represents the division within Charming's psyche of wanting to grow and serve the realm and just blame others. I also kept the theme of growth in the concept of an Eternal Spring that was powered by Charming's power, which resulted in prosperity, surplus of food and general fecundity- however there is tension in this exuberant life represented by his phobia of small animals (which is suggests that he is the cause of his own malaise since its by his power he grows life). If I had more time, I would have shown that after Antares decapitated Charming's transformed head from his body, the whole kingdom would have been submerged into an eternal winter (again, in hindsight, I should have depicted the final round in snow to show a logical step from the consequence of killing Charming in this interpretation of his kingdom).
The one caveat that I'm not too proud of was the way Antares defeats Bubbha with an asspull voodoo magic trick. It was cheap and I apologize for it. This is evidence that I'm still growing and learning as a writer and that if I was a better writer, I would have found a way to use the motifs of roots more effectively in crafting an effective death scene for Bubbha- but i was too entranced by the minutae of the psychodrama of Bubbha being an "impure phallus" that lacked the qualifications to symbolically integrate Charming's inherent regality by being burned up by him.
As I mentioned before, I noticed a lot of hesitation with voting in this round. My main competition was ArtofJoe's entry and his novel use of animation this round- and that was pitted against my more traditional comicbook style layout. However, I believe this hesitation ended up working in my favor because it brought voters under the game of values I was playing- and that they, at some level, were evaluating the values of the investments they gave previously for each character in the previous round. This ended up going against ArtofJoe because i suspect that his novel use of animation would have worked if people voted quickly. My analysis is that ArtofJoe's strategy going up against my method (he knew I was using a method because I said as such in the comments of my round 1 and he would have come across the comment if he read my round 1 entry in preparation for our battle) was to play on the strength of the popular and familiar, with strong reference to a videogame that everyone knew and enjoyed. This is a losing strategy
, specifically because of its fidelity to the reference came off as unoriginal and lazy storytelling (even if ArtofJoe put a lot of effort into it- we are now transitioning into the topic of presentation).
The only way to defeat strong writing is to cause the audience even more hesitation in voting. In this case voters would give both parties equal scores if they're unable to evaluate the difference in strength between the two entries, at worst, voters will not vote at all, being unable to decide. This strategy works because more keen readers will recognize the difference in strength and vote favorably for the stronger entry. You only need a couple of keen readers for this hesitation effect to work. How is this hesitation caused? The only way is to write an even stronger story than your opponent that makes your audience think. Not only think, but think which character they want to see entertain them in the next round- this is the key of the concept of investment, if the audience invests interest in your character based on the story performance in the previous round- they're more reluctant to ditch that investment in favor of a technical trick like using animation or referencing a popular videogame. In this instance, the only way for ArtofJoe to win in this instance is if he can promise that he had more elaborate and clever tricks up his sleeve besides animation or references, however he made no such promises in this round or the previous round, which suggests that the tricks were a one-time deal, so the audience had no reason to invest any interest into his characters.
• I however, kept up my promise by repeating my previous method again this round (albeit a bit haphazardly) and the audience excused any stumbles that were apparent in my story, because I kept up my end of the bargain that I made in the previous round. Other promises I kept were consistent art and a consistent tone in storytelling. The audience saw that their investment was protected and voted in a way where I was guaranteed to win no matter how close the voting appeared.
If ArtofJoe kept the animation style, hell, even kept the courtroom scenario, but prefaced Antares' motivation and why she decides to play the role of judge before the whole telling of the story (and not as a contrivance that occurs at the end near her death) ArtofJoe would have stood a better chance. This is my issue with Bubbha- with the potential of him being a contrivance that popped up in the middle of the story out of nowhere, hence I started off my round introducing Bubbha first to establish themes and motives first- so that he wouldn't hold the appearance of a contrivance or even at the very least I give off an appearance of putting effort into trying to integrate Bubbha in the story.
PS. to ArtofJoe, I meant this critique in all respect of your craft and the workload you took on is Herculean in scale. I was very impressed and I feel it's responsible for breaking down, at least from what I can see, the details of that battle for greater good.