Two Basic Reasons Why Many Webcomics Feature “Frenemy” Relationships Between The Main Characters

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First of all, if you don’t know what the word “frenemy” means, it’s a portmanteau word combining “friend” and “enemy”. It describes an antagonistic friendship. This is a type of character relationship that is also fairly common in webcomics, sitcoms etc…

So, as someone who makes occasional webcomics which have a certain level of these character dynamics, I thought that I’d write an article about why they are so common in webcomics. Here are two of the most basic reasons:

1) Comedic foils: The comedic foil is one of the oldest comedy techniques in the book. This is where you put two characters whose personalities are opposites in some way together and watch as hilarity ensues.

One character could be a detective and the other character could be a criminal. One character could be intelligent, another one could be less intelligent. One character could be serious and the other character could be silly. One character could be a liberal and the other could be a conservative etc.. The idea is that the conflicts between the characters leads to them ending up in a lot of funny situations.

A good example from a classic sitcom would probably be Dave Lister and Arnold Rimmer from “Red Dwarf” – Lister is a laid-back kind of guy who enjoys drinking lager, eating vindaloo, sarcasm and having a laugh. Rimmer, on the other hand, likes to wear a neatly-pressed uniform, gives a new meaning to the word “zealous” when it comes to petty regulations and has the galaxy’s most boring hobbies. When the two get together, funny things like this happen.

However, one side effect of a good comedic foil is that the characters end up often having at least mildly antagonistic, sarcastic etc… friendships with each other. Kind of like in this old comic of mine:

"Damania Reappears - Punk Night (Censored Version)" By C. A. Brown

“Damania Reappears – Punk Night (Censored Version)” By C. A. Brown

2) Instant drama: If your webcomic includes any kind of story arcs or storylines, then “frenemy”-style character relationships can add all sorts of drama, in-jokes, running jokes etc.. to your comics.

The side-effects of your characters’ antagonism towards each other and/or their different approaches to similar situations can be a quick and easy source of both story ideas, characterisation and humour.

For example, in any of my comics about time travel (like this one, this one, this one and one that will start appearing here in about a week’s time) it’s usually a pretty safe bet that Derek will either hatch some evil scheme for world domination and/or mess up the timeline in some stupid way. Here’s an example from the upcoming comic:

This is a preview, the full comic update will appear here on the 14th May

This is a preview, the full comic update will appear here on the 14th May

In reality, of course, no-one would go time travelling with someone who keeps doing things like this- but where is the humour in that? Likewise, why would a sensible detective want to hang around with a group of people

“Frenemy” character relationships may be slightly unrealistic, but they can be an excellent source of both stories and jokes.

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Sorry for another short article, but I hope that this was useful 🙂

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