henryherz.com

Children's & Fantasy/Sci-Fi Books


Leave a comment

The Worst Fictional TV/Movie Pairings

I just read somewhere that W.H. Auden tried (unsuccessfully) to convince his friend J.R.R. Tolkien not to create a romance between his Lord of the Rings characters Aragorn and Arwen. Happily, Prof. Tolkien was not dissuaded.

Sometimes, Auden’s advice should be taken however. As proof, I offer this recently discovered (by me) article “Romance Fail: The Worst Fictional Pairings, and Why They Happen” by Katherine Trendacosta at http://io9.com/romance-fail-the-worst-fictional-pairings-and-why-the-1522745762. Some images you’ll love to hate are below.

Romance Fail: The Worst Fictional Pairings, and Why They Happen

Look, we all know that writing believable romance is hard. Maybe, just maybe, it’s time to admit that not every story needs a relationship as it’s A, B, or even C plot. A story without romance is better than one with a bad one. I’m so, so tired of thinking “Hey, these characters are solid, the story’s fun – oh, oh no. Stop it. Where’d this relationship even come from?!”

These unconvincing relationships fall always seem to fall into the same patterns. Below are the ones to avoid, and the reasons they’re just awful. When you see these happening, bail. And if it can go into more than one of these categories? Do directly to jail. Do not pass go, do not collect $200.

SPOILER WARNING: Since this discusses characters who end up together and characters who break up, there are spoilers. SPOILERS STARTING RIGHT NOW!

Romance Fail: The Worst Fictional Pairings, and Why They Happen

Pairing the Spares

I’m just going use the TV Tropes name for this one, because I always hear it in my head, just like Voldemort saying “Kill the spare.” Because that’s how bad this trope is.

Does everyone have to end up paired off for there to be a happy ending? Even Shakespeare occasionally left some people unmarried at the end of his plays. It’s like people think romance is some sort of closed system, with no external matter allowed. There are other people in the world. We do not need to see them immediately paired up to believe they’ll be okay.

Top honors in this category goes to Enchanted for Nancy and Edward, who stand as an example of the particularly egregious practice of pairing off the exes of the protagonists.

See also: Martha Jones and Mickey in Doctor Who; Twilight; Doggett and Reyes in The X-Files; Oliver and Chloe in Smallville

Romance Fail: The Worst Fictional Pairings, and Why They Happen

Oh, Shit, the Story’s Ending. . . Um, I Guess They’re a Pair Now

This is closely related to the above, although that version has a more intense need to make sure that everyone‘s paired off with each other. This one can be more isolated, and doesn’t necessarily pair a regular character with another. Instead, it seems like, as the story winds down, the writer just thinks that a neglected character deserves a love interest. It’s the lack of development that bugs me in this category. Although, the above-pictured couple hit the trifecta of last-minuteness, lack of chemistry, and just plain stupidity.

See also: The movie versions of Faramir and Éowyn in The Lord of the Rings; Leela and Andred from Doctor Who (ends her story); Pen and Cinnaminson from Terry Brooks’ Shannara Series; Principal Wood and Faith, Buffy

Romance Fail: The Worst Fictional Pairings, and Why They Happen

Hi New Guy, Welcome to the Love Triangle

Congratulations! You’ve got two actors with great chemistry that the fans want to see together. But you can’t them together yet, that’d bring the dreaded Moonlighting problem. And then, brilliance! Just give one (or more) of the pairing a different love interest.

Dear writers: Please stop doing this. Please stop introducing new characters with the sole personality trait of “obstruction to the couple everyone knows will end up together.” Please stop telling us before they show that we think we’ll really like them. If you’re right, you’ve got your protagonist breaking a perfectly good person’s heart (See: Richard, Superman Returns) OR you end up committing character assassination in order to make that character bad and therefore absolve your protagonist of any blame. (See: Jason Teague in Smallville)

If you’re wrong, you’ve got bland filler that’s attracting all sorts of fan hate just through their existence. If they’re lucky, the audience ends up forgetting they were ever even there. That’s what happens when you write a plot point rather than a person.

Special shout-out to the comic-based media properties who have a tendency to give this character a well-known comics name, but none of their interesting comics personalities. Sorry, Spider-Man 2‘s John Jameson and The Incredible Hulk‘s Leonard Samson, you weren’t quite well known enough to compensate for your on-screen blandness.

See also: Lauren Reed in Alias; Viktor Krum and Lavender Brown in Harry Potter; Groo in Angel; Atherton Wing and Tracey Smith in Firefly; Shakaar in Deep Space Nine; Asha Barlow in Dark Angel; Lou/Jill/Hannah/Shaw from Chuck; Kocoum in Pocahontas; Martouf in Stargate SG-1; Pete Shanahan in Stargate SG-1 (who, despite being engaged to Sam Carter, I only remembered as “that guy, you know, that one”); Smallville, just, Smallville all the time

Romance Fail: The Worst Fictional Pairings, and Why They Happen

What are you talking about? I’ve always been in love with *spins roulette wheel*

This is when two previously established characters end up together out of nowhere. It can be closely related to the above category, substituting an established character for a new character. At least in this case, the characters have already existed, so they’re not starting as a plot point. On the other hand, using a character this way invites the same character-assassination-or-protagonist-heartbreaker conundrum as the new character. And when it’s a character that hadn’t previously shown any real interest in, or chemistry with, their new partner, chances are that there’s some serious revamping of their character involved in making this work. Plus, there’s a risk of turning a fan-favorite into someone whose death we’re all suddenly rooting for.

And when two characters are just pushed together without any previous interaction, a writer is lucky if the audience is merely confused, rather than shocked and appalled. (Manfully restraining myself from re-using Seven of Nine and Chakotay’s photo here.)

The later seasons of Battlestar Galactica were particularly prone to this trap. Dualla and Lee fall into the first category, and Tigh and Caprica 6 into the second.

See also: Lex Luthor and Lana Lang, Smallville; Harry and Ginny (for some) in Harry Potter; Remus Lupin and Nymphadora Tonks, Harry Potter; Galen Tyrol and Cally Henderson in Battlestar Galactica; Worf and Deanna Troi, Star Trek: TNG

Romance Fail: The Worst Fictional Pairings, and Why They Happen

The Romance Kudzu

All you wanted to do was add a little romance to your story. Just for color. To make the world more believable. But suddenly, it’s taken over everything. You can’t beat it back. The original intention can’t even be seen any more. Instead, the romance has overtaken everything, leaving the landscape unrecognizable. That’s the Romance Kudzu, consuming everything it can.

The first Matrix movie had the opposite problem, putting a one-sided romance in at the end. The second and third? Hoo, boy. Back! Back, Romance Kudzu!

Minor variation: There’s a romance for no reason, which is so distracting it detracts from everything. An out of place Romance Topiary, if you will. The bland dude/bland mermaid relationship in Pirates of the Caribbean 4, for example.

See also: Wheel of Time; We Can Build You by Phillip K. Dick; Hitchhiker’s Guide to Galaxy (2005 movie); Farscape season 4

Romance Fail: The Worst Fictional Pairings, and Why They Happen

Pairs Juggling

This isn’t just a love triangle. Instead, this is when the writers aren’t really sure where they want the characters to end up, so they keep all the balls in the air. Every pairing’s a possibility! Everyone loves everyone! We’ll just wait for the audience to tell us which ones they like. Or for the actors to develop chemistry. Or for the tea leaves to finish steeping. Just don’t force us into a decision, we’re not ready! Characters pair up, break up, form new pairings, break those up, go back to each other . . . eventually someone has to walk away, right? Or, in the alternative, no one ever gets together, they just all alternately stare longingly at some and glare jealously at others.

By all accounts, the new Tomorrow People‘s got this problem. Astrid and Stephen? Stephen and Cara? Cara and John? Cara and Stephen?

See also: The Vampire Diaries; Emma, Hook, and Neal in Once Upon a TimeTeen Wolf; Community

Romance Fail: The Worst Fictional Pairings, and Why They Happen

The Leads Have No Chemistry

Just give up.


Leave a comment

Pre-SDCC interview with IDW graphic novel publisher Chris Ryall

Chris Ryall is a comic book writer and Chief Creative Officer/Editor-in-Chief of IDW Publishing. Despite being swamped with preparations for IDW’s participation in the upcoming San Diego Comic-Con, he has graciously agreed to talk with us about writing and publishing.

RyallChris

IDW Publishing currently publishes a wide range of comic books and graphic novels including titles based on Angel, Doctor Who, GI Joe, Star Trek, Terminator: Salvation, and Transformers. Creator-driven titles include ‘Fallen Angel’ by Peter David and JK Woodward, ‘Locke & Key’ by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez, and a variety of titles by writer Steve Niles including ‘Wake the Dead’, ‘Epilogue’, and ‘Dead, She Said’.

Artists Ashley Wood and Ben Templesmith are both exclusive to the company, and their titles include ‘Lore’, ‘Popbot’, ‘Sparrow’, ‘Swallow’, ‘Zombies vs. Robots’ (Wood) and ‘Groom Lake’, ‘Singularity 7’, ‘Welcome to Hoxford’, and ‘Wormwood’ (Templesmith). Both Wood and Templesmith have been nominated for multiple Eisner Awards.

For what age audience does IDW publish?
Pretty much all at this point–comics like My Little Pony have brought us younger readers, down to 6-8 or so, and we do a wide array for the 15+ crowd, too. We don’t do many superhero books, but cover horror, fantasy, action/adventure, and have dabbled in sci fi, crime, westerns and others.

Henry: I’m looking forward to seeing Ashley Wood’s interpretation of My Little Pony vs. Zombies…

Tell us about your latest publication
I just sent the final issue of my series ‘The Colonized’ (zombies vs aliens) to press, and am co-writing a Kiss Kids comic aimed at all-ages readers, too.

Henry: Zombies AND Aliens – what’s not to like?

What do you hope readers will get from that?
An enjoyable read, which is all I ask of any of our comics.

What aspect of publishing do you find most challenging?
The non-stop aspect of it. Deadlines never let up, and the fact that there’s so much good material out there, but limited space makes it a challenge. I hate to say “no” to good projects, but you have to at times.

What is a powerful lesson you’ve learned from being a publisher?
Don’t be afraid to say “no”. Stringing people along because I don’t want to make them feel bad is never a good thing, whereas sometimes “no” can serve as impetus to prove me wrong. At least, I hope that’s the case.

Henry: So, sometimes your mouth says “no”, but your heart say “yes”. 🙂 So, my idea for My Little Pony vs. Zombies…

What is a memorable experience you’ve had?
Hard to cite one example, but they happen almost daily. My first week on the job, I was on a panel with Will Eisner. I’ve developed incredible friendships with some of the most creative and inspiring people I could ever hope to meet, and had many chances to work with childhood heroes. All of that makes this incredibly gratifying and enriching, even on the more challenging days.

Henry: I totally agree. I’ve gotten to meet authors and illustrators (and publishers!) I admire.

What advice would you give to aspiring graphic novel authors or illustrators?
You’ve got to love this business. It’s frustrating, humbling, and requires great patience and great love. Overnight success stories are very hard to come by, and often even the most successful “breakout” creators spent years in obscurity, proving they had what it took and honing their craft.

Do you have any favorite quotes?
I’ve always been partial to the line from that song from Willy Wonka, “There is no life I know to compare with pure imagination.”

Henry: Nice. Gene Wilder all the way. I also like, “So shines a good deed in a weary world.”

Do you have any strange work rituals?
I notice that in order to keep up with the daily onslaught, I tend to reply to all e-mails as I’m reading them. So, at times, I’ll end up contradicting myself in a reply because I hadn’t read the whole message before starting to reply.

Henry: Or as Willy Wonka would say, “So much time and so little to do. Wait a minute. Strike that. Reverse it.” It just struck me Chris. You ARE the Willy Wonka of graphic novels.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
The ability to stop time so I could actually catch up on things.

If you could have three authors over for dinner, who would it be?
Rod Serling, Harlan Ellison, and Neil Gaiman. Their body of work and varied interests are answer enough, and all were/are strong personalities. I’m lucky enough to be friends with Harlan, and he is always interesting to talk to over a meal.

Henry: Jealous!

What is your favorite creature that exists only in literature?
The Hulk. Because Hulk smash. Always good to have someone ready to smash your enemies for you.

Henry: Yes, The Hulk is the correct answer because Hulk smash. Just ask Loki.

What do you like to do when you’re not working?
Write… which means I’m really never not working. But since I enjoy it, it never feels like work. That and spend time with my daughter, who is also a big reader already, even at age 7.

Henry: My sons and I will have a new book out for your daughter (and others) soon. 🙂

What would you like it to say on your tombstone?
“Sorry, I’m not accepting any more pitches.”

Henry: You’ll still figure out a way. Dropbox?

Where can readers find out more about IDW?
IDW’s website. I’m also on Twitter at @chris_ryall and I post a lot of artwork at a Tumblr page called Ryall’s Files, too. This year, IDW is at SDCC booth 2643.

Here are some sample IDW publications:

Fallen Angel by Peter David and JK Woodward

FallenAngel

One of the most critically acclaimed series of 2004 makes the jump to IDW, as new artist J.K. Woodward introduces readers to the enigmatic city of Bete Noire.

Locke & Key by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez

LockeAndKey
Acclaimed suspense novelist and New York Times best-selling author Joe Hill(Heart-Shaped Box) creates an all-new story of dark fantasy and wonder

Wake the Dead by writer Steve Niles

WakeTheDead
Modern master of horror Steve Niles (30 Days of Night, Dark Days) teams with art sensations Chee and Milx to present a tale guaranteed to terrify!

Popbot by Ashley Wood

Popbot

Popbot is an award-winning prestige format comic book written & illustrated by Ashley Wood. It features an eclectic cast of characters starring a talking rock star cat, his robot bodyguard, sexy women, robot-ninja assassins & more.

Angel

Angel
The continuing adventures of Joss Whedon’s classic vampire character, Angel.

Doctor Who

DoctorWho
The Doctor, the last of the Time Lords, survivor of the Great Time War, and along with his loyal companions, he stops oppression, darkness, and evil from spreading throughout the galaxies.

G.I. Joe

GIJoe
G.I. JOE is the world’s last defense against nefarious forces bigger than any one nation.

Star Trek

StarTrek
The five-year voyage of the Starship Enterprise was just the beginning of a rich mythology envisioned by Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, one filled with a myriad of stories and characters.

Terminator: Salvation

Terminator
The year is 2018. With John Connor as the voice of the resistance, the scattered remnants of humanity find themselves united against their common enemy—Skynet and its Terminators.

Transformers

Tranformers
TRANSFORMERS comics pit Optimus Prime and his heroic Autobots against Megatron and the evil Decepticons!

This article is also posted to the San Diego Children’s Books Examiner.