Comic Talk and General Discussion

Future Quackcast: SIDEKICKS (Contributions Closed)
ozoneocean at 6:57PM, Nov. 25, 2014
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What are some of your fave comic sidekicks or sidekicks in any media?
-from comics, film, TV, books, talk shows etc.
 
What makes a good sidekick? Loyalty? Humour? Support? Contrast?
What about sexy sidekicks, or even sidekicks who steal the show from the main character or even become to main character themselves?
 
This is based on a newspost by Kawaii, see some interesting responses there:
http://www.theduckwebcomics.com/news/2014/nov/17/an-ode-to-sidekicks/
 
———–
 Thinking of some classical sidekicks there's Sancho Panza from Don Quixote, who has been a prototypical sidekick for a lot of later works: The fat, comical, short, but down to earth charater who smooths the way for the head in the clouds hero is a bit of a staple.
 
Loki was a great sidekick to Thor in the Norse sagas before he became a mavel villian. In that case you had a bit of a Lenny and Goerge relationship in a way, with Thor as the big, dumb hero and Loki as the clever witted but small best friend. Their personalities complimented each other, but Thor was always the main character.
 
Kroatz at 3:28PM, Nov. 27, 2014
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This is an interesting subject, and since I've been reading a lot of comics lately, I think I'd like to chime in. So here goes:

Everything is incredibly dull. Imagine the most beautiful woman, or man if you're so inclined, and fill the world with them. That bored person in front of you at the supermarket, that collegue that always smells of old sweat, that neighbour kid with the loud friends, and even those loud friends, all of them are now replaced with the supermodel of your choice. Each of them has the same opinions, talks about the same boring subjects, wears the same clothes, and has the same annoying laugh. Not only will you soon lose all interest in them, but you will suddenly be the most interesting person in the world.

Our interest is only awakened by contrast, of any kind. Chocolate pudding is only good and yummie if there is the taste of potatoes to compare it to. The dark only arouses our suspicions if it is placed next to the light. We only laugh at anything to lighten the pain that precedes it. Nothing has value without its opposite to hold against it.

And that is exactly why sidekicks exist. Imagine Spider-Man and his sidekick Robin, the Boy Wonder, or Batman and his sidekick Rorschach. Broodiness followed by more broodiness is not interesting. It reveals nothing about anyone, and causes no fluctuation between ups and downs. But put a light quip and some funny acrobatics directly before the discovery of an oozing and bloated corpse, and you awaken the interest of any human, and their emotions soon follow.

We only know that the Green Hornet is inadequate because Kato isn't, and we know that Stewie is evil because his trusty doggy isn't. Food has no taste without hunger. Waking has no substance without dreams. A hero has no worth if his actions are not put into perspective. And we can't all have an enemy that is our mirror, so some of us might as well have a sidekick.
The feeling you get, right before you poop.
That's the best feeling in the world.

- Albert Einstein
bravo1102 at 6:27AM, Dec. 1, 2014
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How can anyone imporve on Kroatz' post? SUms up anything I could say.
KimLuster at 10:55AM, Dec. 1, 2014
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lol that's what I was thinking Bravo.  I like to contribute to these things, but I honestly don't know what I could meaningfully add to what Kroatz already said…
.
I can say that I personally often like the sidekicks more than the main in lots of movies/stories!
.
Chewbacca > Han 
Gabrielle > Xena
Kato > Green Hornet (duh!)
Spock > Kirk
Watson > Holmes
Sam > Frodo
.
The list goes on…
.
But no one… not Robin, nor anyone else, sidekick or partner, is greater than Batman.  Nobody is better than Bats… Ever!!
tupapayon at 12:31PM, Dec. 1, 2014
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Kroatz,you bastard… That was the greatest entry…

Most of love the sidekick because he tends to be more human or express what we think… They put things in perspective and point out things the heroes overlook…

There are many heroes without sidekicks, that can work too. Cervantes started his story having his hero by himself… After his misadventure, the hero realized he needed a sidekick… So he went and got Sancho… And the story got a lot better…

I must say that Chuck Norris doesn't need a sidekick, because he's hot a wicked roundhouse kick!!
KimLuster at 12:52PM, Dec. 1, 2014
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Quixote, Sancho, and Cervantes hold a special place in my heart, considering I once lived in Alcala de Henares (Cervantes' home town in Spain)!
ozoneocean at 7:32PM, Dec. 1, 2014
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Heh guys, Krotz was great, but there's a lot more to sidekicks than contrast, that's only one colour of the sidekick rainbow.
 -Sidekicks that're there for backup, sidekicks that are an audience proxy to make you feel more connected to the story, Sidekicks who're there for narrative purposes, comic releif, to say what the hero can't, to show another aspect of the hero's personality (during interation with the sidekick), as someone to save etc…
It's a massive subject! Kawaii, Banes and I talk about it in next week's Quackcast so you'll have to wait till then unfortunately
 
We still need more contributions thouugh for the great contribution version though!
 
usedbooks at 11:51AM, Dec. 2, 2014
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KimLuster wrote:
lol that's what I was thinking Bravo.  I like to contribute to these things, but I honestly don't know what I could meaningfully add to what Kroatz already said…
.
I can say that I personally often like the sidekicks more than the main in lots of movies/stories!
.
Chewbacca > Han 
Gabrielle > Xena
Kato > Green Hornet (duh!)
Spock > Kirk
Watson > Holmes
Sam > Frodo
.
The list goes on…
.
But no one… not Robin, nor anyone else, sidekick or partner, is greater than Batman.  Nobody is better than Bats… Ever!!
I think you've hit onto an interesting role sidekicks play in a story. They often play alongside “extraordinary” characters. They provide the link for the audience, who otherwise may never empathize with a character who is over-talented or detached or “chosen” or broody. Yes, Robin is needed in the case of certain Bats. Adam West's Batman was not “dark” but he was an overachieving do-gooder. Audience can't sympathize but they can sympathize with Robin, especially a younger audience.  Xena and Kirk are over-the-top hero types. Their side-kicks are more “human.” Frodo is a downer; it's Sam's concern for him that makes the audience cheer for him. And Watson is perhaps the original and best example of audience-protagonist mediator. Doyle's tales are a character study of a completely bizarre person that no one could possibly relate to. Watson is the everyman who is fascinated by the weird character. We the audience relate to Watson; in turn, Watson translates his fascination and friendship with Holmes. Only through Watson's point-of-view can the audience care about Holmes.
I never would care if Sherlock Holmes was hurt, killed, jailed, or
failed, but Watson cares, and I care about Watson. We cheer for the
side he cheers for.
 
Of course, a sidekick is not needed when the protagonist is humanly flawed but also down-to-earth (some lever of humor rather than constantly a downer) and relatable to the audience. The point is that the relateable character is necessary for a successful narrative. To immerse in the world, the audience needs SOMEONE they can relate to.  It is the over-the-top protagonist that requires a sidekick. Superman could have benefitted from a sidekick. I haven't seen anything recently, but I recall watching Lois and Clark in my youth. Forget Lois. Forget Clark. The only character I empathized with was Jimmy Olson. I loved any episode where he played a key role. Most of the Marvel heroes I've enjoyed needed no sidekick because they were relateable, flawed, and personable enough that I need no mediator to make me give a rats ass.
 
KimLuster at 6:55PM, Dec. 2, 2014
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Well goshalmighty you all are making me feel literaly illiterate.  Usedbooks, everything you said makes total sense, as in when you hear (read) it you just know it's true.  
.
I'm not old enough to remember them of course but I saw some old comic covers on a site with titles like ‘Jimmy Olsen, Superman’s pal' and ‘Lois Lane, Superman’s girlfriend', so I think (at least at one time) those writers agreed with what you're saying and attempted to make comics with a relateable character hanging out with Superman - I imagine it enabled the reader to better see Superman thru their eyes.  A perfect example of what you described.
tupapayon at 7:58PM, Dec. 2, 2014
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Ok ok… Double O (OzOce)… There are other cases where sidekicks and support characters steal the show… One example in a comic posted here in the Duck: Bad Guy High… http://www.theduckwebcomics.com/Bad_Guy_High/… By The Red Death… Awesome comic, btw… Dan was a support character, but he became the hero for a while, leaving the main character way behind… He practically took over the comic…
usedbooks at 8:41PM, Dec. 2, 2014
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I just thought of another example of sidekick from a 90s series probably no one saw but me. It was called Due South. It was about this ridiculously goody goody by-the-book Canadian mountie joining with the Chicago (I think) police. I only remember vaguely, but the guy was just too much a good guy, ridiculously boy scout type. He was like a Canadian stereotype. Anyway, as much as you can't dislike a perfect nice guy, you just can't empathize. He had a rough (Italian? I think) street smart sidekick named Ray (again kinda foggy on my memory). He said the things the audience thought (mostly frustrated at straight-laced semi-naiive Canadian guy).




(I watched a lot of crime dramas as a teenager. Most starred equal-billed partners with contrasting personalities. But that one stuck out to me as having a real central character. Another series like that is Bones. I hate Bones. The unrelateable protagonist is also unbearable, inconsistent, and horribly written. And sidekicks and partners cannot rescue that one, imo.)
last edited on Dec. 2, 2014 8:51PM
KimLuster at 6:16AM, Dec. 3, 2014
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Ya know, alot of Arnold Schwarzenegger movies are like this.  Arnold, while lots of fun, is hard to relate to for the normal guy (or gal).  First of all - look at him!!  Then he has that outrageous accent!  So I can think of several movies where they paired him with a ‘regular’ guy with a good sense of humor:  Jim Belushi in Red Heat, Tom Arnold in True Lies (both of those sidekicks stole the show, btw)…
bravo1102 at 6:48AM, Dec. 3, 2014
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usedbooks wrote:
 And Watson is perhaps the original and best example of audience-protagonist mediator. Doyle's tales are a character study of a completely bizarre person that no one could possibly relate to. Watson is the everyman who is fascinated by the weird character. We the audience relate to Watson; in turn, Watson translates his fascination and friendship with Holmes. Only through Watson's point-of-view can the audience care about Holmes.
I never would care if Sherlock Holmes was hurt, killed, jailed, or
failed, but Watson cares, and I care about Watson. We cheer for the
side he cheers for.
 
But Holmes did narrate one of the stories and often the orignal tales were no more than long monologues by Holmes describing what he did. So some of the orignal stories ended up as “As told to” stories rather than true tales from Watson's point of view. Holmes became more human in later stories and less the extraordinary eccentric or maybe Conan Doyle came to identify with him more.

We should remember that once upon a time a gentleman expected to have a sidekick at all times; his personal servant. Before that the knight always had his squire even when the poor squire wasn't named he was still there carrying Lancelot's armor and spare weapons. It was sort of assumed. But of course many heroic gentlemen of fiction not only have the servant but a sidekick. Batman has both Alfred and Robin. I always liked Alfred better especially in the movies and animated series.

We're forgetting the classic hero sidekcik combo: The Lone Ranger who was never really alone because there was always Tonto. Or their Hispanic equilelent the Cisco Kid. Strange Zorro never really had a sidekick (not counting that annoying friar which I don't) and Robin Hood had His Merry Men with most TV series assigning Little John as the offical sidekick. But the original sotries just have him and his whole band like Arthur and the knights of the Round Table. Arthur really had no sidekick (orignially it's Gawain or Bedwyr) and I'd argue Lancelot is really a main character or even antagonist rather than a sidekick.

When I looked back at my HS career I realized that I was someone's sidekick. I wasn't even the main character in my own life. ;-)
That's the ultimate irony of the sidekick. Not even being the main character in the story of your own life.
usedbooks at 7:47AM, Dec. 3, 2014
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I always considered myself a nonspeaking extra in my life.
Gunwallace at 12:32PM, Dec. 3, 2014
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Who needs ‘em?
Take a movie like Bladerunner where there is no sidekick. In the original there’s Harrison Ford's voiceover playing the part of the sidekick, letting us in on the details of the story. Then first director's cut did away with the voice over and the movie was better. Sometime's sidekicks, and inner voices, get in the way.  Now there are so many damn versions of that movie I've lost count.
The great noir detective movies didn't need no sidekicks. They just needed bad guys and dames, and plenty of them, but that's because those kind of stories work best with silence, with doubt, without the clarity and chatter a sidekick often brings. 
Sure, some sidekiecks can be great, but for every Chewie there's a Jar-jar. I say round up the lot of them … except I'm busy and that sounds like a job more suited for my sidekick.
David ‘Gunwallace’ Tulloch, www.virtuallycomics.com
bravo1102 at 3:56PM, Dec. 3, 2014
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Gunwallace wrote:
The great noir detective movies didn't need no sidekicks. They just needed bad guys and dames, and plenty of them, but that's because those kind of stories work best with silence, with doubt, without the clarity and chatter a sidekick often brings. 
Great twist on that was in Dead Men don't Wear Plaid with Steve Martin's character on the phone to Humphrey Bogart as his sidekick. Something I'm sure you had in mind when creating Maxwell McDuff's sidekick Frenchie (as well as the relationship between Humphrey Bogart and Claude Rains in Casablanca.)  A thing about sidekicks in film noir, they either betrayed the main character or died before the start of the story to provide the protagonist's motive. In Casablanca Rick's sidekick was supposed to be Senor Argarte but he's killed off. Louis Renault (Claude Rains) only becomes Rick's sidekick at the very end (this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship) and before that they are playful rivals.

That's another side of the “sidekick” The playful rival. He's a contrast to the hero and always at odds with him but then the chips are down he's there at the hero's side. Can the playful rival be considered a sidekick? He'd defintiley resent it (and often has when mistaken for it) but I'd argue he still is in essence a sidekick. 
tupapayon at 12:23PM, Dec. 4, 2014
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A point we had forgotten.., to mention… Sidekicks are not essential … Point well expressed already… Arnold has done quite a few movies without having his character an actual sidekick… It's not that sidekicks are needed, but they so provide another set of eyes and a voice for what the author or the audience think… Don Quixote without Sancho is still Don Quixote…
ozoneocean at 6:49PM, Dec. 4, 2014
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Is Hobbes the sidekick or is it Calvin? I don't think that's a duo or a buddy comedy thing, it's definitely an unequal relationship.
I will say that it's Hobbes, but Hobbes imagines that he's the dominant one… or Calvin imagines that Hobbes imagines…? I'm not sure how reality works in that universe.
 
last edited on Dec. 4, 2014 6:54PM
bravo1102 at 6:35AM, Dec. 5, 2014
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Re Calvin and Hobbes: Somewhere in the run of the comic the tiger emphatically stated that a tiger should never be considered a sidekick. Stuffed bears make poor main characters and should always be sidekicks but never tigers. 
KimLuster at 10:31AM, Dec. 5, 2014
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ozoneocean wrote:
Is Hobbes the sidekick or is it Calvin? I don't think that's a duo or a buddy comedy thing, it's definitely an unequal relationship.
I will say that it's Hobbes, but Hobbes imagines that he's the dominant one… or Calvin imagines that Hobbes imagines…? I'm not sure how reality works in that universe.
That is a toughie…!  Both ALWAYS get their way when they really want something, and they talk down to each other equally (although when violence is hinted at Hobbes always wins).  I suppose I've always considered Calvin the main, though…  He has other ‘adventures’ (ie. Spaceman Spiff, Tracer Bullet, dealing with his parents or Suzie) where Hobbes isn't involved.
usedbooks at 3:21PM, Dec. 5, 2014
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I think in buddy cop or partner stories, sometimes the duo take turns being the sidekick. Tthe sidekick in one movie is the star in the sequel and star becomes sidekick. Or even scene by scene.

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