Wednesday 7 December 2011


Not funny pictures of cats, but the original coinage’s meaning. Ideas which propagate themselves across time, almost independently of their media of propagation (language, art, thought). It’s one of those comforting ‘we’re not so different after all’ realizations that certain stories, certain characters are universal to all societies, regardless of time, space, culture or race.

There are all the obvious, big, important myths, such as Creation (Kamiyonanayo, Gaia) and Destruction (Revelation, Ragnarok). Character archetypes are also universal, from the Trickster (Anansi, Coyote) to the Sage (Merlin, Mr Miyagi).

Wax on, Wax off

What I find amazing is the level of detail to which these ideas can replicate themselves. It’s not just the big, broad-brush stock characters which keep popping up everywhere. You can get down to very specific character and plot points and still keep finding almost direct one-to-one comparisons. Here are three for your consideration –

The Robot Protector. Sent back in time by benevolent forces to forestall a disastrous future for a still youthfully innocent male protagonist.

The Mute. Purposefully denied the power of speech by its creators, and treated as nothing more than a commodity to be discarded when its overlords grow bored or feel it has outlived its utility. Trapped in a nightmare world of non-expression; unable to laugh, unable to cry, unable to scream.

The Magical, Edible Friend. A humanoid being created by an apparently omniscient, supernatural paternal figure who is capable of resurrecting the character when necessary. The character encourages people in need to eat of its own body, and has sundry other superhuman abilities.

You saw that one coming a mile off, didn't you?


  1. Extra points for 'Buddy Christ' in the last movie by Kevin Smith worth any time.

  2. I gotta go remove my "Buddy Christ" pic from an unpublished post...looks better right here :)

  3. Catholic-Atheist transformed though I am, I have to respect the Church's old music for majesty, and the Vatican II reforms (modernization) for intentions However, the wasted Sunday mornings listening to the strummed-guitar mass turned me off of the religion faster than my total lack of faith, or even the blue-balls the girls in my Catholic school left me with. "Buddy Christ" floored me as the perfect symbol of that - not the blue-balls, but the most puerile application of Vatican II.

  4. Keep the picture Chris. It's unlikely that any of my hordes of readers (ahem) are going to call foul if you use it too. Though maybe you could substitute the Anpanman one to similar effect?

    On my rattier days I really do believe I should be able to execute people for failing to say 'bless you' when I sneeze. 'Course over here that might lead to a lot of executions.

    Vatican II, is that like Neo-Tokyo or Tokyo 3 then? I'd be so cool if there was actually a complete reconstruction miles below the existing city. Conspiracy theories ahoy...

  5. You could look up 'Vatican II' on Google... or go with the definition you've got, which is far more interesting than a council on dogma. Puts me in mind of 'A Fish Called Wanda':

    "Let me correct you on a few things; Aristotle was not Belgian! The central message of Buddhism is not "Every man for himself!" And the London Underground is not a political movement! Those are all mistakes. I looked them up."

  6. Nice Jesus. Nice Anpanman too.

  7. Kathryn - Yeah, I was pretty happy when I found the Anpanman picture. I like to think he has an Italian cousin, Hostman. Though that perhaps doesn't translate so well.

    Ant - That's the thing about google, it's pretty much destroyed the value of comic misunderstanding on the internet. If you claim ignorance about any subject the only possible conclusions are that either -
    a) You're too lazy to look it up, or
    b) You don't care.

    In this case the answer is
    c) both of the above.