In my newspost last week about the “No Hugging, No Learning” mantra, I mentioned that I was basing a throwaway character – a loveable misanthrope – on a real-life friend of mine. It’s something I’m tempted to do fairly frequently; I spend most of my time in an academic environment, where eccentric types are allowed to flourish. One of my friends, for instance, doesn’t wear shoes because he just doesn’t like them.
For the character I wrote about last week, I told the friend who I had based the character on and sent him a little bit of the script. Fortunately he was amused by it and not annoyed. But I probably won’t do that with every real-life-inspired character. Because my comic is light-hearted and comedic, any characters based on real people will be caricatures rather than accurate depictions (although, honestly, some of the people I know are hard to make much weirder). With a good friend it’s easy to say “look at the joke I’ve made of you,” but with an acquaintance or a superior not so much.
Is it kind of a weird thing to do, then? To caricature people who’ll probably never know? I figure it’s a long tradition in storytelling. What better way to create a well-rounded character than to base them on a human being with all of their complexities and absurdities, right? I’m not sure if this is true, but I remember being told when I was a kid that Aesop’s fables featured animals so that they could be used to discreetly criticize real life figures. Aesop might have been onto something there – caricature people enough that they’re unrecognizable, and no one will be the wiser!
Have you ever based a comic character on a real person? Did you caricature them, or try to depict them accurately? Did the person know about it?
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HippieVan at 12:00AM, Nov. 25, 2016
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