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Thread: Week 47- Superheroes & Magic

  1. CalvinCamp Guest

    Quote Originally Posted by StevenForbes View Post
    Which proves my point. If the rules don't match from character to character or writer to writer for the same character, then there are no real rules, just like I said. Thanks.
    I'd like to think it at least clarified the point.

    Being around and having your own series are two different things. Really, if you're going to compare, at least do it apples to apples.
    Captain Marvel reputedly outsold every other comic on the stands in the 1940s, and had a continuous run (with Fawcett) for over a decade. The only thing that stalled the series was DC taking Fawcett to court over the similarity to Superman (I guess if you can't outsell them, you can sue them). They had to cancel the comic over the lawsuit and he was out of the public eye until the 70s - and, sadly, didn't catch on again with anything like his original popularity. But it had nothing to do with magic.

    But if you don't like him, let's try Wonder Woman. Also, by your definition, a magical character. She has appeared in her own series (and darned near continuously) since 1942.

    Now, when it comes to finding objective sources on the subject of magic--good luck. That's like trying to find an objective source on quantum mechanics, string theory, or time travel. Magick is a belief system, just like science and atheism. How are you going to write objectively about it if you don't believe in it?
    You write objectively about it by observation of those who do, much like an anthropologist can observe other cultures without completely abandoning his own. If you believe in magic, that would make it significantly harder (though, of course, not impossible) to write about it objectively.

    And those source are easily found. In general, just look for anything with a broad focus, something comparitive.

    And there are so MANY different systems to choose from, just like flavors of Christianity. However, unlike the bulk of Christians I know and have run into, pagans rarely claim that their way is the one true way to worship. They understand that it is a way that works for them. Big distinction there.
    Oh absolutely. That's part of the reason I recommend starting the research with broad comparitive works, that look at various belief systems objectively. Some of those works are written by believers, and some aren't. The important part, at least for the initial research (if only to decide what area you might want a more detailed subjective viewpoint) is the objectivity.

    While many pagans don't claim "one true way", some can be very... enthusiatic about their way. Especially the ones who write books about it. And some are every bit as much "my way or you're wrong" as any fundamentalist Christian. Look to hardcore Gardnerian Wiccans as a good example - most wiccans are about as free-form as you can get, but I've met (and read) some hardcore Gardnerians who might as well be southern Baptists. Even the warm and fuzzy pagans can be a little... cloying sometimes.

    And I also believe you're wrong about the general populace not being afraid of magic. Man fears what it doesn't understand, and we like to think we understand a ton of things. We still don't know what the basics really are, such as fire and electricity, and the more we 'learn', the more we understand how very little we truly understand--at least, wise ones understand that.

    But in America, founded on Christian values, you'll find that, even though people say they don't believe in magic, they're afraid of it. They'll do 'superstitious' things, based on a system of belief they don't believe in. They'll apply the Rule of Three willy-nilly, and have only the vaguest rudimentary knowledge of how karma works. That fear is fostered by the Church, because anything that is strange and foreign has to come from the 'devil.'
    Oh, I'll grant you there are a lot of people afraid of magic. They're generally the same people who are afraid of anything not them. But those people aren't your audience. People actually contemplating writing fiction about magic (as opposed to anti-satantic religious screed), aren't those people. They're people who either are fairly comfortable with the idea, or don't believe in it as anything but fiction or myth.

    And I don't believe that superstitious tendencies and a belief that someone can cast working spells go hand in hand, anymore than I believe an ingrained religious upbringing and aspirations to priesthood go hand in hand. In fact, most Christians would be dismissive (and in many cases offended) if you walked up and insisted that the rituals of their religion were magic. That's how little they believe in magic, and how complete the dissociation between what they see as real and what people who "don't know any better" see as real. Most of the time, at worst, they don't fear the magic... they fear the crazy guy who believes in magic.



  2. MartinBrandt Guest

    Once again, great column Forbes. (I'm awake this time.)

    Magic as a power will never make a truly compelling character. It will come off as cheap parlor tricks to circumvent the norm restrictions in place for other characters.

    For magic to be compelling it needs to have balance. There needs to be a cost to it, it must infuse the story with drama. Magic is twisting of things beyond mortal compreshension, that should reflect in the story. The more you break that veil, that threshold, the more it should bring some sort of balancing effect.

    To me magic is like physics in all its forms without the science talk behind it. In theory, almost anything is possible. Still there are laws, checks and balances as they taught us over and over in civics class. These checks and balances play through nature without need of some law we write. Several science theories are based upon these checks. There is no reason it should not apply in some form to magic use.

    I think in most comics it is not kept in check, because the other heroes themselves for the most part are not kept in check. Only when it is some large event do we see a check put in place for our heroes. On average though, most heroes can just go on and on without worry when using their "powers".

    So if you wanted to mingle "Powers" and "Magic", you would need to put checks in place. I find these days that the heroes I write all have a balance, a check. There is no true Superman here.

    Perhaps that is because of all the fables, fairy tales, legends, and myths I have read. Most people I have known base their perceptions of these fantasies off of things like Tolkien and DnD. For me I realize it came from folklore, myths, and legends. One thing that always rang true in all these was the balance. There was a price for every action.

    Anyways, I also wanted to touch on the word pagan. Not a huge fan of it, but be what it is. That word is a church word used to describe the uneducated, heathens, country dwellers who fell outside the teachings of the church. It is amazing to me how many "pagans" don't know that.

    Then again, it is amazing to me how many "pagans" are practicing thing invented in the 60's and 70's but taught as ageless.

    I've researched a lot about magic, from druidism to early christianity to neo paganism.

    I'm at home with the Fae/Fairy/Sidhe/Fair Folk and giant robots bend on destorying the world.

    Hmm, maybe that is why I liked starwars so much as a kid.

    See now your column is making me want to unshelf an idea of mine. An entire world without technology based on magic. Our star? A network administrator, oh you know the type. Gripes about all the morons below him, how he always has to fix their problems. LOL

    Anyways, I look forward to reading next weeks column. I think I have babbled on long enough.



  3. CalvinCamp Guest

    Quote Originally Posted by Dungbeetle View Post
    Calvin... I understand your annoyance with the "k" in magic. It's like people who insist on spelling fairy "faerie" (don't get me started on dwarves/elves dwarfs/elfs, crazy yanks)... but you also have to remember that people who spent their lives writing and reading about magic wrote about it with a k. To dismiss them is plain old ignorant.
    As best as I can tell, the only people who write about magic with a "k" are fans of Crowley. I've never seen an objective treatment that ever used it except to reference it's use by Crowley and those who have adopted it since.

    And I don't really have a problem with use of the "k" as a device for seperating "magic we believe in" and "magic they do on stage at Vegas". I've just seen so many people make such a huge pretentious deal out of it, that it's come to grate on my nerves - but that's really my problem. The useful point is that it actually does seem to be a fairly reliable way to distinguish objective writings from subjective ones.

    Most people, even secular people, are afraid of magic, or at least, very dubious about anyone with a more than superficial interest in it. We'll do an experiment' transfer my books to your house, put them on plain view in the sitting room and then you have a tea party. Great ice breaker.
    My own books on wicca, witchcraft, and shamanism should do nicely, but thanks. They've openly shelved, and have never bothered anyone that I could tell. The only people I ever scared were a couple of holy-roller relatives I didn't want hanging around anyway, and I did that with D&D

    No-one said Strange was this or that.
    I never said they did. I wasn't disputing anything there, I was just pointing out that whatever magic system someone wants to create doesn't have to be a match for any established belief system. You can create your own unique system.

    But there's still a fine distinction between someone performing works of magic, and someone just throwing fireballs about willy nilly.
    The point is that there's nothing wrong with a character throwing fireballs around either, so long as there's a coherent system in place to support it. Fictional works of magic can be anything the writer wants them to be. This is a problem discussing fictional magic with many people who believe in magic(k). They get the idea that fiction has to reflect (their perceived) reality. I don't know if that's actually what you're doing here, or not. But that's the attitude I was warning against. Research all you want, the more the better... but don't think your writing has to slavishly follow what you researched, unless you want it to. This isn't science, it's fantasy.

    To research magic properly would be it's own reward. No-one's saying anyone has to be an authority on it, just show some interest, and it might enrich your writing, in the same way that a knowledge of spiders or journalism might enrich the writing of someone working on Spidey.
    And I never said someone shouldn't do the research. I don't know where people keep getting that crap from. Research is great! Really! Books, books, books! Yay! Just know where the research stops and the creativity starts.



  4. CalvinCamp Guest

    Quote Originally Posted by MartinBrandt View Post
    Anyways, I also wanted to touch on the word pagan. Not a huge fan of it, but be what it is. That word is a church word used to describe the uneducated, heathens, country dwellers who fell outside the teachings of the church. It is amazing to me how many "pagans" don't know that.
    I think more pagans probably know that than you realize. I've never met a self-styled pagan yet who, like people who call themselves witches, didn't seem to get a little mischeivous satisfaction out of wearing a Christian insult as a badge of pride.

    Then again, it is amazing to me how many "pagans" are practicing thing invented in the 60's and 70's but taught as ageless.
    Yeah, and they all spell it magick, don't they? Sorry. I had to do it. I am weak and dispicable.



  5. MartinBrandt Guest

    Quote Originally Posted by madelf View Post
    I think more pagans probably know that than you realize. I've never met a self-styled pagan yet who, like people who call themselves witches, didn't seem to get a little mischeivous satisfaction out of wearing a Christian insult as a badge of pride.

    Yeah, and they all spell it magick, don't they? Sorry. I had to do it. I am weak and dispicable.
    LOL you crack me up man.

    Yeah there are a few Pagans I have met that wear it as a badge of sarcasm. A reverse finger if you will.



  6. AdamH Guest

    One of the first things that comes to mind for me when I hear "rules" and "magic" brought up in the same sentence is the series Fullmetal Alchemist. While technically the "alchemy" they practice on the show/in the book is supposed to be advanced science, it felt more like magic(k?) to me.

    In particular I enjoyed the idea of "equivalent exchange" in the series, people aren't running practicing magic/alchemy willy nilly, there's rules darn it.

    Cutting off the anime/manga aficionados off at the pass, no FA wasn't the best anime or manga around, but it was entertaining to me.

    -Adam Hudson



  7. MartinBrandt Guest

    Quote Originally Posted by AdamH View Post
    One of the first things that comes to mind for me when I hear "rules" and "magic" brought up in the same sentence is the series Fullmetal Alchemist. While technically the "alchemy" they practice on the show/in the book is supposed to be advanced science, it felt more like magic(k?) to me.

    In particular I enjoyed the idea of "equivalent exchange" in the series, people aren't running practicing magic/alchemy willy nilly, there's rules darn it.

    Cutting off the anime/manga aficionados off at the pass, no FA wasn't the best anime or manga around, but it was entertaining to me.

    -Adam Hudson
    That is a good example of checks and balance in a system.

    "Equivalent Exchange" really screwed things up for the boys when they tried to bring their mom back from the dead. That same equalizer echoed through the entire series.



  8. tiggerpete Guest

    Quote Originally Posted by MartinBrandt View Post
    That is a good example of checks and balance in a system.

    "Equivalent Exchange" really screwed things up for the boys when they tried to bring their mom back from the dead. That same equalizer echoed through the entire series.
    and later on found out that the energy for their transmutations was taken fromthe life energy from a parallel world that had no alchemy (much like our world circa 1918) puts things in perspective that even if you want to make a doll out of a pile of dirt, there are no free rides



  9. Join Date
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    Forget Dresden! Read Simon R. Green's NIGHTSIDE series. John Taylor is like the pulp version of John Constantine.

    Great books, easy reads, cool characters!

    Razor Eddie! Merlin's bar..houses that eat people....yeah. Good Stuff.
    "Living Robert Venditti's Plan B!"

    CAT. 5



  10. Dungbeetle Guest

    Why would anyone want a pulp version of him? That's like wanting a highbrow version of The Hulk. Fundamentally wrong.



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