A discussion at twitter (you should be there! If you haven’t looked for @Drunkduck you should, add DD and you’ll be added back!) brought to my attention a very subtle but very aesthetically and narratively pleasing element that, when we take the time as artists to factor it in, gives the audience more immersion, and more engagement:
Characters that age, change and develop visually through time.
Kids grow up. Fighters get scarred. An illness leaves a permanent mark in a character’s stance or stamina that distinctly hadn’t been there before. Hardship changes the ‘resting face’ of the character (often from ‘pleasant’ to ‘bitch’). Time soothes scathing, lancinating emotions… or twists them into poison, and that shows in the eyes, in the scowl, in the expression of the face as a rule.
Sometimes (I won’t say often), and especially in mainstream comic staples such as Asterix, Tintin or Lucky Luke, the characters never change visually. They remain the same without aging a day, without acquiring any scars and without acquiring any lingering effects from any of their adventures. And that doesn’t matter in those particular examples because the stories are episodic and not arranged in any linear manner or meant to aggregate to some sort of character development. They are anecdotes, in a sense, of the same static character put in different situations and through different adventures that wrap up neatly in the end, going full circle with a banquet, lounging about at Marlinspike or riding off into the sunset.
But when a story is structured differently, and characters are meant to go through the ‘hero’s journey’ (or several times over through that type of journey) and the world they are in with them, it adds a bit of spice to allow the character to visually change as experiences and events happen to him/her, exactly as it happens in real life. It gives not only authenticity to the character’s experiences and plights, it also serves as a nice symbolism of what the character is going through.
So how about you? Have you been altering your characters’ appearance as your story develops? Do you have the opportunity to?
Tantz_Aerine at 12:00AM, Feb. 3, 2018
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