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Author Topic: A New Antagonist for QC?  (Read 619 times)

BenRG

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A New Antagonist for QC?
« on: 14 Jun 2020, 00:22 »

I'll start off by quoting the post that triggered this topic from the WCDT for 8-12/6/2020:

Anyways, I hope Jeph will introduce some dark character in the future.

I think that it would be great for QC to have an above-the-line villainous cast member. Having a villain in the cast need not lead to QC becoming "dark" (although, honestly, a bit of black humour in QC wouldn't go entirely astray).

Personally, I think that a regularly-used extravagant villain character would break the 'post-college slice-of-life' atmosphere of the strip and feel contrived somehow. That's the reason why Vespavenger never quite worked for me. However, maybe a more down-to-earth and realistic antagonist that anyone could know might work very well. Maybe Jeph could use Juicy (the nasty upstairs neighbour) for the task?

She could be a villain who both could be a sustained problem and still fit into the essentially light-hearted atmosphere of the strip. A woman who doesn't care how her actions and attitudes affect others to the point where she considers them a problem to her (naturally blameless) lifestyle. Basically what they tend to call a 'Karen' on the Internet. It starts with her triggering Hannelore by not bothering to understand her issues and rapidly spreads to everyone else in the building.

Possible things that could happen:
  • Calling Bubbles 'Tin Can Sally' and suggesting that she needs adjustment to make her less of a bother to her;
  • Making hugely inappropriate comments about Faye's sexuality and why she is with Bubbles;
  • Insisting that Hannelore 'grow up' and 'stop acting as if everything is dirty';
  • Calling Winslow a 'recreational device' in a snide, faux-knowing way;
  • Gossiping with others about what she thinks is going on between Marten, Faye, Claire and Bubbles and generally acting as if they have a problem for for being upset at her doing so.
Basically a neighbour from hell - A continual irritation but, until things really escalate, never really doing anything actionable. Of course, her antisocial behaviour has already been seen in CoD so I can quite see her harassing the barristas (by insisting on unreasonable levels of service and 'special deals' for free stuff). She doesn't like Union Robotics on principle (AIs aren't people to her) and seems to think that she can order May to give her free stuff at the convenience store and virtually has a meltdown when she doesn't get it ("It's disobeying my orders! It's defective and I demand that you shut it down!").
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Re: A New Antagonist for QC?
« Reply #1 on: 14 Jun 2020, 00:27 »

Thanks for kicking this off. "Antagonist" is definitely more in line with what I was going for.

We do have at least two antagonists ready to roll if Jeph so chose:
  • Hannermom
  • An official in charge of deciding whether or not May ought to be granted a properly functioning chassis (perhaps the one Roko has already spoken with)
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Cornelius

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Re: A New Antagonist for QC?
« Reply #2 on: 14 Jun 2020, 00:30 »

That sounds like it really could work.

Of course, another option could be further interventions by Hanner's mom.
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Re: A New Antagonist for QC?
« Reply #3 on: 15 Jun 2020, 03:57 »

Basically what they tend to call a 'Karen' on the Internet.
Whocallwhatnow? If that's the term we're going with, I must say that I'm a bit of a Karen myself. Not in the specifics that miss Pink Juicypants is a Karen, but generally; I have my idiosyncratic lifestyle that often cacophonizes the locals. Often, no-one is to blame for the trouble that is caused by our interactions (though I suspect they consider my existence a nuisance. Relative to the effects by other locals, I am---but nothing in our explicit agreements (nor in the implicit ``agreements'' called ``laws''---which I follow!) contraindicates such activity---though such activity are. Contraindicated, I mean.) I've learned to be loath to attribute blame. I consider the following anecdote instructive: My phone had WiFi problems. But only at this one cafe. Everywhere else it worked perfect. So this cafe is to blame for poor WiFi? But one day, my phone stalled; I had borrowed my friend's phone for the day (he wasn't using it anyway), and the WiFi at that cafe worked perfect. Tomorrow, my phone is fixed; it's WiFi at that cafe, is not. Something about the interaction of that phone and the WiFi at that cafe. I think it's unfair to call miss Juicypants' actions antisocial. ``Parasocial,'' perhaps? I think they're many pretty okay ideas that together won't make her realistic.

  • Hannermom
  • An official in charge of deciding whether or not May ought to be granted a properly functioning chassis (perhaps the one Roko has already spoken with)
Both? Maybe Hanners' mom is one in charge of postprison chassis provision. By funding (for some business strategy, or a calculated public image purpose---both, knowing miz Chatham's business sense) or whatnot. This could promise major development for the involved characters---be they pro- or an- tagons.
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JoeCovenant

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Re: A New Antagonist for QC?
« Reply #4 on: 15 Jun 2020, 04:21 »

I hate that trope.
The person who goes out of their way to annoy people/stir.
People who in real life would either be ignored, or introduced to Mr Boot.
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Re: A New Antagonist for QC?
« Reply #5 on: 15 Jun 2020, 04:32 »

I hate it as well. I can't explain why, even to myself. It just gets my back up whenever I read it.
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Gyrre

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Re: A New Antagonist for QC?
« Reply #6 on: 16 Jun 2020, 21:02 »

1) Dear God, no. When I have to deal with people like that IRL, I usually end up wanting to strangle them with barbed-wire.
       [No, I have never actually done that.]

2) Apparently there's a list based on age range. My apologies to anyone who happens to have any of these names.
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St.Clair

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Re: A New Antagonist for QC?
« Reply #7 on: 16 Jun 2020, 21:18 »

"There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it."
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Re: A New Antagonist for QC?
« Reply #8 on: 19 Jun 2020, 10:26 »

Thanks for kicking this off. "Antagonist" is definitely more in line with what I was going for.

We do have at least two antagonists ready to roll if Jeph so chose:
  • Hannermom
  • An official in charge of deciding whether or not May ought to be granted a properly functioning chassis (perhaps the one Roko has already spoken with)

In a way in QC's history characters have mostly served as antagonists to on another, which works well for a slice of life comic.
Vespavenger did work for me, but only because it was so over the top and a short storyline.

I guess the biggest antagonist/villain we've had was corpsewitch, and a similar antagonist (maybe with more ambiguity) could be interesting. Hannermom seems to be the best option to me, especially because I've always felt that initially there seemed to be more layers to her personality and less of a purely-evil nature to her (corporate evil yes, but otherwise?). There is even room for a storyline with possibly some kind of (limited) redemption for her and/or some form of reconciliation with Hanners, if the latter would desire any that is....

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Re: A New Antagonist for QC?
« Reply #9 on: 19 Jun 2020, 13:12 »

I hate that trope.
The person who goes out of their way to annoy people/stir.
People who in real life would either be ignored, or introduced to Mr Boot.
Wait, I thot Mike was your favorite DoA character.
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Re: A New Antagonist for QC?
« Reply #10 on: 19 Jun 2020, 15:43 »

Yeah, a character introduced solely to annoy/antagonise the cast is...well, its lazy writing. Its unimaginative and it gets very old very quickly. That type of character is a plot device that just doesn't work in the long run or the short run. And if you go down that route, you basically have to change out assholes when they wear out their welcome. Not to mention that kind of character ends up getting abuse hurled at the writer, which frankly they don't deserve.

If you want to bring conflict into a story, Kurt Vonnegut had the right idea "Someone gets into trouble, then tries to get out of it again. People love that story. They never get tired of it". Meaning that there is already the seeds for drama within the comic and it doesn't need a Karen or a Becky or a Chad to draw it out. (Also, I had a look at the male version...Chad is in my age group and fuck, that makes me feel old).

So lets take a few minutes and break that idea down. Conflict in a story is CHARACTER + WANT + OBSTACLE = CONFLICT.

In that scenario, you're using the CHARACTER to explore why they WANT something and how the OBSTACLE gets in their way. We've seen that plenty of times in the comic:
The Talk. CHARACTERS: Marten & Faye. WANT: A romantic relationship between the two. OBSTACLE: Faye's past. Combined, we get The Talk and the resolution of that conflict is that any romantic possibility between the two is given the kibosh in a firm manner.

But more than that, in that conflict, you have the characters reveal truths about themselves and with that comes the realisation that they need to change. In the case of the Talk, its Faye ultimately realising she sabotaged what could have been a good relationship and decides to enter therapy again.

Of course, conflict for the sake of conflict is just as bad as introducing an antagonist that just exists to antagonise. It adds nothing and gets boring.

So what kind of conflict could we see? Well, there are several ideas:
- Character vs Character. This is the most straightforward kind of conflict. It could be the Hero vs the Villain, or in a more subtle vein, family drama, like Faye coming out to her mother.
- Character vs Society. This can be more about the character having to deal with the expectations society has placed upon them. For example, Bubbles trying to reintegrate into society after leaving the military, further showcased by her discussion with Momo.
- Character vs Nature. This could be animals, apocalypses, weather and so on, all of which feature non-human antagonists (Looking at you, Twister, chasing after those Stormchasers!).
- Character vs Technology. Exactly what it sounds like, though its perhaps best exemplified by the arc where Bubbles finds her memories aren't just locked away and are completely gone. But given the level of technology in the QC-verse, this is an easy one to explore.
- Character vs Supernatural. While one might not be able to find an example within the QC-verse, its there, as we've seen with Spookybot. They are beyond the technology of the setting, especially when Station, one of the most powerful AI within the setting has no idea what Spooky could be. At that point, you're leaving the realm of nature and technology, things that can be explained and entering the supernatural.
- Character vs Self. This is when the character is their own worst enemy, where they have to confront their demons and either learn how to cope or else struggle for their lives.
- Character vs Fate. This is related to the Vs Self, where people who can't learn to grow, keeping repeating the same mistakes. But it's mainly the idea that a character's freedom is always just out of reach, that no matter how much they struggle they're always going to end up doing what they're fated to do.

Of course, then that's getting into the types of conflict you're looking for - is it character based or themed based? Is it external or internal? But I think I've said enough on this for the evening.
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Re: A New Antagonist for QC?
« Reply #11 on: 19 Jun 2020, 19:10 »

Good post. I'd just like briefly to point out that the author need not limit themselves to just one of these types of conflict. I don't recall mentioning this before, but the best type of external conflict is one that manifests or amplifies an existing internal conflict, and acts to propel the story.

As you said, QC does not really need an external conflict - there is a host of internal conflicts that already exist in the comic. The trouble is, many of them have been sitting undeveloped seemingly forever, and one of them has existed from comic #1. Marten's will almost certainly go exactly nowhere without an almighty shove.

Character: Marten
Want: Work out a career/life goal to chase
Obstacle: His own passivity and lack of proactivity

So what kind of inciting incident will kick off a chain of events leading to change?
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Re: A New Antagonist for QC?
« Reply #12 on: 19 Jun 2020, 20:01 »

When it comes to 'antagonists' in the QC universe, I've been wondering if Angus might make a reappearance, which could spark rivalry between him and Bubbles for Faye's affections.

With regards to Marten, he does have Claire now who won't hesitate to kick his butt if she feels he needs it. The 'almighty shove' that he needs might be that he gets fired from the library (and maybe Claire will be offered his position? That would spark conflict between them).
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Castlerook

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Re: A New Antagonist for QC?
« Reply #13 on: 19 Jun 2020, 21:28 »

Good post. I'd just like briefly to point out that the author need not limit themselves to just one of these types of conflict. I don't recall mentioning this before, but the best type of external conflict is one that manifests or amplifies an existing internal conflict, and acts to propel the story.

I'm not going to spend too long talking about this, need to get some sleep. But most, if not all, conflicts boil down to those broad categories, much like how all stories fit into roughly 7 archetypes. Now, that said, in my personal experience, the best kind of conflict is not external nor internal, but the one which forces the character to look at themselves and to realise how their thoughts/actions have contributed to this conflict and the responsibility they must take for their part.

As you said, QC does not really need an external conflict - there is a host of internal conflicts that already exist in the comic. The trouble is, many of them have been sitting undeveloped seemingly forever, and one of them has existed from comic #1. Marten's will almost certainly go exactly nowhere without an almighty shove.

Part of QC's strength is that it has a huge cast of characters and you can go from story to story and not have to worry about repeating anything. And that's is part of QC's weakness. You have so many characters needing face time that potential stories and plots get lost.

Character: Marten
Want: Work out a career/life goal to chase
Obstacle: His own passivity and lack of proactivity

So what kind of inciting incident will kick off a chain of events leading to change?

Okay, let's take Marten for an example. Obviously, he is the CHARACTER, his WANT is to have a career in music and his OBSTACLE is his passivity and lack of drive. The inciting incident isn't going to be internal. Its going to have to be external. The most likely candidate is Claire. There are two likely scenarios here. 1 - Claire gets offered a job in another town and 2 - Claire tries to get Marten to take his thumb out of his ass and try to go for that career in music.

So suddenly, we have a new conflict - the CHARACTER is Claire, her WANT is to 1 - achieve her goal of being a librarian/ 2 - get Marten on his career path. The OBSTACLE is Marten. In the first scenario, Marten will be unlikely to leave behind Faye and his other friendships. In the second scenario, we've already seen that Marten is reticent to Claire trying to direct him.

Now we have two conflicts in one story. Marten's CONFLICT and Claire's CONFLICT. In Marten's case, ideally his conflict would have him looking in and thinking about how he never takes chances and more importantly, would he want to lose Claire. Claire's situation would have her examining herself and trying to decide does she love Marten enough to give up her dreams or does she want to get dragged down with him? What about her own hopes and dreams? Marten might be happy to just let things happen, but we know that's not enough for Claire.

And we come to the crux of that story and it brings us back to the original conflict - Can Marten change for what he wants? Because if he can, Claire's conflict is also resolved. If he can't, her conflict is still resolved, albeit in a more disheartening manner.

You don't need an antagonist just popping in and causing havoc. Most of the time, the cast are their own worst enemies.
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Re: A New Antagonist for QC?
« Reply #14 on: 19 Jun 2020, 23:37 »

I agree that you don't need an antagonist, and I'm certainly not arguing that an antagonist should 'just pop in and cause havoc'. Your example would be a perfectly fine way to proceed, and maybe that's precisely what Jeph has in mind.

Maybe I haven't been clear enough, but I'm happy for that story to move forward however Jeph wants, as long as it gets progressed somehow. This thread got created purely because I created a post that simply said 'hey, a new antagonist would be neat.' It's not some burning desire of mine.

You seem very anti-antagonist, and I'm curious why that is. As I said, I agree that we don't need one, but I don't see what's so bad about having an antagonist, so long as it's in service to the story.
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Re: A New Antagonist for QC?
« Reply #15 on: 20 Jun 2020, 06:03 »

I'm not anti-antagonist, its just that you need a certain kind of story for them to work and QC isn't really conducive to that kind of story. That said, one of the best examples of a QC antagonist has been Beatrice, especially in her last appearance. The conflict she caused had major ramifications and character development for Hanners.
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Re: A New Antagonist for QC?
« Reply #16 on: 20 Jun 2020, 15:07 »

I misspoke. When I said 'anti-antagonist', what I really meant was for QC specifically.

I disagree that QC isn't conducive to that kind of story. I dunno why you think so when you've already given one good example. Here's another. I put it to you that the Faye/Bubbles story with Corpse Witch as antagonist was one of the best arcs in the comic. In my view, the best bar none.
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