Well, whilst I was busy making a sci-fi themed webcomic mini series that will appear here in February, I was reminded of a really interesting thing that you can sometimes see in comic, TV shows, movies, books etc… I am, of course, talking about multiple versions of the same character.
I only have time to write about this briefly (since, at the time of writing, I still have to make two comic updates today), but it’s a really fascinating subject. Talking of comics, here’s another preview of my upcoming webcomic mini series:
One of the cool things about having multiple versions of the same character is that you can use this to show off aspects of your character’s personality that you wouldn’t normally see. This is especially true in storylines involving parallel universes, where the audience can see what would have happened if your character’s history had been changed slightly.
This can also be used to great dramatic effect by making the audience question which version of the character is the “real” version, or even what it truly means to be human. By showing reflections of your own characters, you can also make the audience think about themselves even more.
Another cool thing about multiple versions of the same character is that you can experiment with slightly different visual designs for the same character. At a bare minimum, you need some kind of small visual clue so that the audience can tell which version is which (eg: in the classic “mirror universe” episode of ‘Star Trek’, the evil version of Spock has a goatee). But, if you want to, you can totally redesign how your character looks.
Of course, one of the best ways to use multiple versions of the same character is in the comedy genre. There is nothing funnier than watching a character quite literally have an argument with himself or herself.
Numerous hilarious examples of this can be found in a classic (and modern) TV series called “Red Dwarf“. Plus, since both versions of the character know each other really well, this also allows for more creatively amusing conversations between them.
Multiple versions of the same character are also perfect for the horror genre too, for the simple reason that they tap into what Sigmund Freud called “The Uncanny“. In a nutshell, this is the sense of creepiness that we feel when something is both familiar and unfamiliar at the same time.
To use a famous example, it’s why a “realistic” humanoid robot creeps us out (since it’s body language etc.. isn’t quite right) and why a more robot-like robot doesn’t creep us out.
In addition to this, multiple versions of the same character can also be used in the horror genre to show the difference between a character’s public and private persona. The classic example is, of course, Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde“.
But a far more sophisticated, and infinitely creepier, version can be found in a Satoshi Kon movie called “Perfect Blue“. In this movie, a pop star retires from her musical career, only to find that the ‘celebrity’ version of herself is still posting things online….
There’s probably a lot more that could be said but, at the time of writing, I still have comic updates to make. So, sorry about the short article.
Anyway, I hope that this was interesting 🙂