Childhood Influences – Non-Literary

Everything right and wrong that goes on in my imagination can be blamed on two cartoons: Disney’s Gargoyles and MTV’s The Maxx. Gargoyles was perfect for a young, developing mind, because it instilled a love of history, mythology, foreign culture, reading, languages, and Shakespeare. I was a fifth grader in 1995, and I would run home every day to watch it at 4:30 (I was very upset when The Mighty Ducks replaced it on Fridays).

Somehow, for some God-forsaken reason, I watched The Maxx before I watched Gargoyles. This means that I watched it before I was ten. The Maxx is not for kids. It is dark and brooding, about rape and monsters (both men and beasts). I understood very little about it, and STILL understand very little about it, even though I have watched the entire series and read the graphic novel (or are they comics? I have no idea). However, it was meant to be that way. Whatever the creator’s intention was, he left it up to the viewer’s interpretation. It has a “What the Hell just happened?” ending. The Maxx is a puzzle.

I was engrossed by the antagonists, although the two shows vary: In Gargoyles, the antagonist was rarely ever exclusively an antagonist. Sometimes they were good-guys-gone-bad, sometimes they were redeemed, sometimes they become bad-guys-gone-good, sometimes they think they have the best intentions at heart. My favorite is MacBeth (yes, THAT MacBeth). From his first moment on screen, his chiseled features, his accent (John Rhys-Davies FTW!), his castle, and his booby traps, I was captivated. I also loved that he never stopped popping up, even in the ill-fated third season (kmn), he pops up at least once. He also never has clearly-established roles, although he has clearly-established goals, and the viewer either knows or learns exactly where he is coming from. He has a rich, complex history, and concrete values.

Mr. Gone, antagonist of The Maxx, is the opposite of MacBeth. Not that he isn’t brilliantly written and portrayed, but he is fickle, extreme, deranged, and enigmatic. Not to mention, seemingly immortal (Oh, wait – just like MacBeth!). He is fascinating in the way venomous snakes and train crashes are (I say this, being the proud owner of a quirky copperhead, Steve). While MacBeth maintained almost absolute control over his actions (unless possessed), Mr. Gone is one to lose control of himself completely.

I’m sure if I reviewed my work – I keep them in manila envelopes in document bins – I could analyze in detail how either or both of these works influenced each one. For the most part, the works aren’t derivative, and no one else would be able to look at it and say, “Oh, that was in The Maxx,” or “That sounds like Gargoyles,” but the influence is there, under several layers of people I know, books I’ve read, movies that I was watching at the time, and shit that has happened to me (“shit” because the positive never goes down, for some reason).

My current antagonist, Avery Rhodes, is an interesting mixture of Mr. Gone and MacBeth. He enjoys rape and murder – he likes to think it keeps him sane – and he shows a very picturesque face to the world. He usually stays emotionally and physically in control, but certain things compromise that, and when he loses control, he loses it completely. However, he has a complex, complicated, tragic history. He has a set way of doing things, and attempts to plan for every eventuality, but also gets a thrill from a certain amount of unpredictability and surprise (see previous sample about the encounter between Rhodes and Z).

I’m writing this because I’m having trouble getting the second book organized, and I’ve been building the backstory for Rhodes instead. Between his first encounter with tragedy and his first murder, I have it all figured out. I’m debating whether I should lace this in somehow, or simply leave it as supplementation. It’s a lot richer than the novel, which I feel is a bit sad for supplementary work.

It means that I have to rewrite the novel. (shhhhhhiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiitttttt)


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