Master Plans, and the Problems Therein

17 Nov

Spoilers ahead. Have you read the comic? It’s free!


It’s hard to be a supervillain. Clarice had this brilliant master plan to set herself up as a new god.

(yes, I know it's almost a line from HELLRAISER I swear you people don't know me at all...)

(…yes, I know it’s almost a line from HELLRAISER. I swear, you people don’t know me at all…)

But the ghosts who support her decided: Whoa, lady? Worldwide death and destruction? That’s a bit over the top!

Which is me wiggling out on the story I had planned to tell.

I wanted to follow through on Clarice’s master plan. It’d be great! It’d be entirely in keeping with her character, and within the rules of the universe. Essentially, it’s drawing on the premise that fame is a form of energy. Fame is remarkably similar to belief. It’s an investment of thought and attention, and if it is sustained over enough time, its target can draw upon this energy.

But fame is fleeting. Even U.S. presidents fall out of active memory. Benjamin Franklin and George Washington are among the most powerful ghosts in American history because everybody knows who they were, but Calvin Coolidge? The poor guy is relegated to “Worst President” lists and the occasional bad joke. If he’s lucky.

If Clarice spent the rest of her natural life setting herself up as a highly controversial figure who broke the modern world, she’d never be forgotten. (Or at least, not within the span of modern civilization, because Ozymandias, but she’ll take what she can get and then orchestrate her legacy from the grave.) This is what Clarice should have done.

But she couldn’t, because while she’s vicious and amoral and would think nothing of worldwide genocide to further her own ends, she’s also a character in a webcomic that updates twice a week. The medium through which her story is told cannot sustain that type of decades-long plot. It’d take sixty years of machinations to get Clarice to a point where she’d be poised at the brink of winning, and then-spoiler!-our heroes would finally pull their last-minute save out of their collective butts and send her to Hell.

Our very, very old heroes. As drawn by a very tired, and probably as equally old, me.

Couldn’t be done. Just in terms of audience attrition alone, I’d be ending a story followed by maybe sixteen hardcore readers (hi guys!). The characters themselves would have aged significantly, and their traits changed accordingly. It’d be sort of neat to carry a story through the length of their lives, and get into the nuts and bolts of political and religious plotting, the outcome of major plagues and nuclear fallout, the societal and cultural issues raised by coping with a reduced population…  Well.

Writers tell similar long-term story arcs all of the time, but they don’t have to draw it out on a per-update basis. I can (and often do) spend three weeks on a brief interaction between two characters. A webcomic is not the right format for this type of story. Judge Dredd might be able to pull it off, but me? Not so much.

I’ve known about this problem for ages, and wrote myself a series of outs, just in case I decided to abandon one storyline and jump to another. There’ve been some hints that the ghosts who allied with Clarice weren’t cool with the whole global chaos/genocide thing. Now, it seems they’ve asked her to tone it down a notch or they’ll pull their support.

So, Clarice isn’t getting her long-running Master Plan. She’s forced to make do with something fast and dirty. Something also in keeping with her character but better suited to a comic format.

*sigh*

I’m sad I don’t get to play with mass murder, but there’ll be other opportunities.





5 Responses to “Master Plans, and the Problems Therein”

  1. Dromeda November 17, 2014 at 5:27 pm #

    Clarice’s Master Plan sounds /awesome/, but I totally see and agree with your reasons for deciding not to go through with it. It sounds like a metric /ton/ of work in addition to just the sheer scope of it. That said, would you ever think about writing it out, possibly after AGAHF is done? For a villain as wonderfully diabolical as Clarice, I can’t help but want to see how it would’ve played out if she had been given free rein by her..”associates”.

    • KBSpangler November 18, 2014 at 2:06 pm #

      Maybe? As fun as it would be, I’m not sure I’d ever get the time to do it properly!

      • Jed November 18, 2014 at 6:55 pm #

        Novels my dear. Time lapse is nothing in a novel. Especially since you write such good ones. Then you could also go into Ben’s alternate plans/person, and Speed’s spawn trying to take over the world themselves,,, Because you have to talk about his spawn at some point…

  2. Jon "The Nice Guy" Spriggs November 17, 2014 at 10:19 pm #

    For some reason, when you mention decades long plot lines, I immediately thought “Oh well, there goes the next Babylon 5” haha http://www.geekcode.com/geek.html#b5

    But yehr, wish you’d had the chance to do it (maybe you could do like Jumper by Stephen Gould, and write one storyline for the books, and one storyline for the film *with the same name* and the two don’t have much similar other than the main character’s name and his ability).

    I think it’s probably fair to say though that I’d be one of the twelve you mentioned above 😉

  3. St. Clair November 18, 2014 at 8:10 pm #

    I think the other ghosts are realizing that if/when Clarice did achieve that kind of apotheosis, they’d be even more irrelevant than they are under the current regime. She’d be more powerful than all of them put together, and they’d have no more control over (or use to) her.

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