That 80ies Fantasy VillainOn Monday - September 1st, 2008 18:40:22
If the characters are looking a little bit off-model today, there’s a reason for it: the lineart for this strip is more than a year and a half old, and was one of the first drawn for this part of the story, before the script underwent expansion.
Anyway, in case you got are lucky enough to have no conscious memory of 80ies fantasy (due to being younger or having slept through the decade to recover from the preceding one) today’s strip should give you at least a vague idea how bad it really was. Movie producers of that day and age realized that fantasy fiction deals with a world of magic and limitless possibilities, and for them that translated to: “no need to even try and get it right.” The worlds they created were truly magical - not that you would see much of that magic (FX are expensive), but it was used to explain all the plotholes and inconsistencies away…
A typical villain of that genre and time tended to be someone like the one from today’s strip - with an ‘exotic’ outfit cobbled together from various odds and ends the prop department had laying around from period dramas of a dozen different periods. Severe eyebrows were a must, and you were lucky if the actor’s actual eyebrows were at least properly hidden by make-up…otherwise you’d get the legendary double eyebrows of villainy.
Aside from the occasional violent murder of a henchperson, they usually established how villainous and powerful they were by talking. Lots and lots of talking. And they always were the ultimate evil, even if their whole villainy seemed to come down to sending some of their (usually around a dozen) soldiers to the hodge-podge village around their small castle on explicit order to be rude to the villagers.
Naturally, they dabbled in the dark arts…if you consider parlour tricks a dark art. But, despite their displays of power being often rather underwhelming, they were usually utterly invincible by mere dint of the script, susceptible only to a single specific thing. That thing, fortunately, was usually well-known in advance thanks to some old prophecy or two, and could be anything from the following short-list:
-some mystic weapon, combined with the power of love.
-some mystic piece of jewelry, combined with the power of love.
-some mystic piece of random junk, combined with the power of love.
-just the power of love.
(for versions 1-3, separation of the critical item into several parts hidden separately was optional)
Yes, typical 80ies fantasy villains were almost always susceptible to the power of love…not on some deep, philosophical level, but physically. In their moment of ultimate triumph, the hero(es) displayed or threw at them some trinket that symbolized their love (for each other, or the universe in general) and the villain would scream for about 20 minutes and then simply disappear. In the deluxe version, there would be some fancy (by the standards of the day) visual FX, for the economy version a simple stop-trick and a smoke charge had to do. (Bonus demerits if the stop trick didn’t even use footage that fit with each other.) And, yeah, love was usually symbolized by some physical item - “you know that audiences don’t really get abstract concepts”, and all that.
Fortunately, all that lies behind us, and most of the survivors seem to have recovered…although there might have been some lasting psychological damage, after all - you see more and more pointless apostrophes pop up in peoples’ names, perhaps as some sub-conscious echo of 80ies fantasy villains.
Whatever, back to the present on Thursday. A new voting incentive is up, as well.