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Saturday, September 1

The Anti-Anti-Hero By Kyle B. Stiff

I’m tired of gray morals and anti-heroes.

It took me long enough. As a kid who grew up reading comic books, I would run away from do-gooders like Spider-Man and Captain America. Spider-Man was impossible for any artist to treat seriously, what with every available inch of negative space being filled word balloons of light-hearted stream-of-consciousness “jokes”, and Captain America’s square jaw and “do the right thing” philosophy just smacked of simpleton virtues and an unwavering devotion to the status quo. No, I wanted to see the Punisher hunt down criminals and gun them down in endless succession. The guy was basically a serial killer with a heart of gold, and I loved it.

It took a while for the anti-hero ideal to spread, but now, in some watered-down sense, it’s everywhere. A lot of writers these days are making their heroes more “human” by showing their weakness, their indecision, and their keen sense of their own failings. Sure, literature’s bygone heroes might have been cardboard cutouts of perfection, but when did we decide that humanity was the most limp-wristed animal on the block?

Are we really looking to blood-sucking vampires when we look for an ideal to live by? Moral shades of gray? What does that even mean?

The thing is, heroic characters are larger than life. We don’t identify because they’re like us, afraid and weighed down by remorse and regret. Their souls burn hot, way hotter than a normal human’s, and we identify with them because they wake up a small part of ourselves that knows we could be doing better.

For instance, take Julian Assange. He’s not perfect, but he lives by an ideal, a vision of a better world, that most people would sell in an instant if they saw even a little profit coming their way. When you watched The Matrix, did you think that Morpheus, the “world’s most dangerous man”, was admirable? In the original Tron movie (yes, the very, very old one), did you admire Tron’s ability to survive in the arena long enough to escape and take on the Master Control System? Well, there you go – that’s Julian Assange. The guy’s a hero – and the powers that be fear him more than they fear anyone else. If you want to kill vampires, shine a light on them. It’s a bad habit to confuse heroism with perfection; you don’t have to be perfect to slay vampires, but you do need bravery.

That’s what I try to show in my Demonworld series. The protagonist, Wodan, is a hero driven by ideals. He’s a human with human failings, but he’s also human in the sense that his power comes from the power of dreams. His ideals make him stronger. His enemies might be able to overpower him and hunt him down, perhaps even kill him – but they can never really beat him. How can they? How can someone who lives in fear ever overcome a hero powered by dreams?



About the Author:


Kyle B. Stiff is the author of the Demonworld series, which can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Kyle-B.-Stiff/e/B005I56W3Q/

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