Homage or Garbage?

Posted: 15th February 2012 by Jeff Bouley / Deacon Blue in Ruminations

Sometimes the lines between homage, inspiration and copy-catting are thin. As I write these stories, I sometimes wonder if there really are any new ideas or memes in the superhero and supervillain world.

Now, that may sound maudlin, I know. But I’m not really stressing about it. Just ruminating.

(Plus, I’ll be posting another chapter of The Gathering Storm tomorrow and I like to have at least one post in between new chapters so people who come straight to the main page don’t get confused and think the new chapter is actually the previous installment. Also, I need to write an article for money, but I’m not motivated yet, so I’ll ramble here instead.)

I’ve already mentioned in various places on this blog that the world of the Whethermen is strongly influenced by Alan Moore’s “Watchmen” comics as well as by such titles as the various X-Men, Doom Patrol and Justice League titles over the years. So, I recognize that there are influences from which I draw.

But sometimes, I look at my characters and wonder if they are unique enough. Are they truly my own creations, or simply spins on someone else’s?

Let’s take Query, for example. The name alone is a revealing factor, especially with a mostly featureless mask that doesn’t even show the hero’s eyes, much like…The Question. And at the same time, there are many elements of Query that are like Batman and even some like Rorschach. He has a loose affiliation with a freelance female operative named Cheshire. Is she simply a spin on Catwoman, but platonic and with the Invisible Woman’s powers tossed in?

Then there is Fortunato, who seems at times to me to be simply a Latino version of Ozymandias from “The Watchmen” with perhaps a bit of Tony Stark’s charm thrown into the assholery…minus the towering genius of either.

Is Mad Dash just the Wally West version of Flash with some slight mental imbalances? Is his girlfriend Ladykiller just Wolverine with breasts, minus a healing factor and working through rape survival PTSD?

And on the villain side, is Janus just a mashup of The Joker and Two-Face, and Crazy Jane is simply his Harley Quinn?

There are others who aren’t so easy to peg, of course, and this gives me hope that I’m not completely falling into traps of homage-turned-lack-of-creativity. Zoe Dawson, for example, who will eventually become Loc-Down, doesn’t remind me of anyone in any comics I’ve read. Nor does Underworld or Tooth Fairy. Epitaph is another one who seems to be cut from whole cloth and not from remainders and scraps left behind by more talented writers than I.

What do you think? What do you say? Does familiarity of themes resonate, or do you see too much of the original inspirations in my own characters? Is that good or bad? Have you even noticed or thought about it? Where do the missing socks in the dryer go to?

I mean, you don’t have to chime in, but it would be nice if you have a few minutes. The comments section is a lonely place at this blog.

  1. Rory says:

    I don’t think you need to worry about homage/garbage. (Which you forced me to pronounce gar-bahge, thanks)

    You really boiled down your characters into these interesting equations, and I think that is sufficient to demonstrate their difference to others. Wolverine with breasts living through rape PTSD is not Wolverine at all, that is a completely new character.

    I think the characters are great, J-Bou.

  2. Deacon Blue says:

    I was wondering if anyone would be mentally forced to do that pronunciation, as I was.

    Appreciated the input. At the age of 43, I’m not too old for insecurities and second-guessing.

    Plus, I need something to yap about… 😉