Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Pierre Speaks: What is original?? PART 2

In PART 1 of this article, I used Batman as an example.

Let us use a Flashback Universe character this time.

Let us use Saturn Knight.

I have heard many comparisons. That it was an obvious copy of Guardian/Vindicator. Space Ghost.

Even Iron-Man.

I can understand the Vindicator or Space Ghost comparison.... but Iron-Man??

I am still scratching my head about how anyone could even think that Saturn Knight looks like a copy of Iron-Man.

Essentially, Saturn Knight was our Flashback Universe version of Nova. It seems obvious to me.... but I can understand that if someone wants to call Saturn Knight a copy, and if they don't know the character Nova..... Iron-Man is a much more known character to use as a comparison.

But even then..... a copy of Iron-Man?? "Identical" was the word actually used. "Identical"?? Really???

I am stumped.

When I first read the adventures of Nova a few decades ago. Little did I know that it was meant to be Marvel's Green Lantern. I was not that familiar with Green Lantern at the time. I had seen him once or twice in the pages of the Flash. I did not know about the whole Green Lantern Corps. Or that when Nova was given his powers by a dying alien, that it was more or less the same story as the Green Lantern origin story.

But then again.... Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) was not an original character either. There was another Green Lantern before him (no not Abin Sur), Alan Scott.

I also saw Alan in the pages of the Flash at first, when Jay Garrick mentions his JSA buddies. And since I saw him before Hal Jordan... to me Alan Scott was the TRUE Green Lantern.

But even then..... Green Lantern was essentially the modern version at the time of Aladin and his magic lamp.

So to get back to the original question... "How do you qualify something as original??"

To someone who did not know of Green Lantern.... Nova seemed original. And I am sure that many when they first saw Hal Jordan had no idea that there was Alan Scott before him.

And who knows where Aladdin actually comes from ( I am sure someone knows.... but I am too lazy to look it up ;) ).

And who knows.... maybe someday.... someone will create a new version of a character he fell in love with years before called...... Saturn Knight??

We shall see.


Kid Terror said...

Very well put. My friend and I often argue about originality. I'll list off some influences that I'm drawing from for a story and he'll claim that it's unoriginal. I tell him that it's the way I combine the elements from the different influences that creates the alchemy of the story. He'll continue to disagree.

So, whenever he is telling me an idea for a story, I like to bring up things like "Oh, so he's sort of like a Sherlock Holmes" or "That's kinda like He-Man." It drives him nuts.

Unknown said...

Originality is basically in a combination of what elements are mixed together with the point of view of the person doing the mixing. Even with established characters. If John Byrne is retelling Superman's origin what he mixes in and makes on his own won't be the same concoction as what Paul Dini and Bruce Timm do. Or Mark Waid. Or Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.

But there is a fine line that seperates this from sort of mashing together popular elements with no thought about what is being picked, how they gel together, or how they themselves view these elements.

Another factor is timing. If you decide to combine elements of powerful mythological heroes with the idea of a man defending the little guy from injustice and call him Superman in 1938, that's original.

Do it now, maybe not so much. BUT you can create a character that is a call back to that but at the same time stands on his own like Samaritan in Astro City. He's meant to remind one of Superman but at the same time he can stand on his own as a character so as to not be entirely dependant on making that association with Superman. Just like somebody who has never read a single issue of Nova can enjoy Saturn Knight but if they *have* then it can enhance their enjoyment of both characters.


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