Recurring Items In Comics And Fiction

2016 Artwork Recurring items article sketch

Although this is a short article about something cool you can do when you’re writing fiction or making comics, I’m going to have to start by briefly talking about old computer games (again). As usual, there’s a good reason for this.

A while back, I was watching a “let’s play” video on Youtube (PushingUpRoses’s let’s play of “Leisure Suit Larry 7”, to be precise. I won’t link to it here though, since it’s probably kind of NSFW). One interesting thing about this video is that there’s a remark about how all of the old Sierra adventure games apparently included a moose of some kind or another.

Although I haven’t played that many old Sierra games, it reminded me of something that I used to do a lot when I wrote more fiction. And something that I’ve done, to a much lesser extent, when I’ve made comics. I am, of course talking about including recurring items in everything that you make.

For example, when I wrote a lot more fiction, quite a few of my longer stories would mention a book called “The Forgotten Art Of Oneiromancy”. This was originally meant to be a reference to the Necronomicon from H.P.Lovecraft’s short stories, and it’s most recent appearance was back in 2015 when I wrote “Acolyte!” (although it’s one of those “blink and you’ll miss it” kind of things).

As I’ve just hinted, one of the most obvious reasons to include recurring items in your fiction or comics is that they’re a really cool type of easter egg. They’re something that encourages readers to look closely at your story or comic.

But, as well as turning your story or comic into a treasure hunt, it’s also something that rewards people who read lots of your stuff. After all, the only way (other than doing online research) that someone is going to truly know that something is a recurring item is if they’ve read several things that you’ve written.

However, I’d argue that recurring items can be much more than just a simple easter egg to amuse your audience with. They can be a very subtle way of showing that two seemingly different stories take place within the same fictional universe.

Even if you’re telling two different stories in two different locations (or even two different time periods), having the same unique item appear in both of them is a very sneaky way to hint at the fact that the two stories are connected in some way or another.

Even if the connection is nothing more than the fact that you created both stories or comics, adding small connections between the things you create will intrigue your audience. It’ll make them wonder about how the item ended up in both stories, or it’ll make them wonder about what happens between the events of your two stories. In other words, it’ll make your audience think about your stories more and make them more interested in the stories.

So, although recurring items can just be an amusing in-joke, they can also be used to keep your audience’s attention too.


Sorry for the ridiculously short article, but I hope it was useful 🙂


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