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View Full Version : Has Erfworld grown darker, or was it that way from the beginning?



MadScientistMat
2009-04-05, 03:52 PM
This is a question I've seen crop up in some of the strip theads, but seems like it's worthy of its own discussion. To me, it seems like while the body count has piled up considerably, this series was pretty dark from the beginning. They kill off the very first named character we actually see in the second page, for example. And it doesn't take long to establish the hopelessness of Stanley's situation - or Parson's, for that matter, once he's summoned and Stanley mentions how he can kill him just by wishing it. Would you think the series has taken a shift into darker, or has kept things at about the same level?

Anias
2009-04-05, 05:51 PM
Well, I'd say that it's gotten darker. There have always been the deaths, and Manpower does die on the second page, but things are so...cutesy at the beginning, and the emotions and consequences are minimized. Manpower dies, without pain or blood, saying "I can taste key lime pie," making his death more a punchline than anything serious. The narration even states that he dies...which makes Wanda have a bad day. The fact that this named character has just died in battle is virtually ignored, his pain and suffering nonexistent. The only consideration given to him is the (apparently tedious) necessity of uncroaking him. At the beginning, there is certainly violence and death, but it is bloodless (manpower), offscreen (manpower's troops), or affecting only small numbers of unsympathetic troops (twoll, skeletons); there is no emotional attachment to any of the characters who die at this point. However, as the strip progresses, the deaths get more gruesome, and they become the deaths of people rather than pawns; Misty, Jaclyn, Ansom, and Bogroll all had PERSONALITIES that we knew, and there were people who identified with each one. People reacted emotionally when Wanda recieved spell backlash, and when she was injured by Ansom. People reacted emotionally when Jillian fought Stanley, and when she was hit by the air defenses. People had a wide variety of reactions to Ansom's escapes and eventual death. The forums exploded, even at the heavily-foreshadowed death of Bogroll. The comic has grown to display death in its true light, showing the reactions of those close to the deceased, showing the last moments of the characters, their fear, their pain, their deaths, and their corpses in detail.

I suspect this is part of Rob and Jamie's plan; the strip has just as many deaths (well, maybe) at the beginning as at the end, but they are offscreen and unnoticed. The emotions were not shown, nor were the emotions, personalities, or details. The darkness was always there, in this 'game,' but we couldn't see it...BECAUSE it was a 'game.' I think now that Parson (and the readers) see the characters as real people, with personalities, with hopes, with goals, with emotions, the darkness of the war, death, and sacrifice begins to hit us. Then again, I haven't slept in the past two days, so I might just be babbling; if I am, sorry.

Banjooie
2009-04-06, 03:59 AM
It got darker right around when things got booping hardcore. (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/erf0083.html)

BLANDCorporatio
2009-04-06, 04:56 AM
Let's say that it's always been dark, despite the cute start. It's just that at first, the darkness of a world of croaked-or-be-croaked was hidden by the cutesy.

ishnar
2009-04-06, 04:53 PM
I'd say always dark. The cutsey art was just to give it some contrast.

When kids play war with teddy bears, parents may think, "aww how cute" at least, if they don't think about what the teddy bears are doing.

MadScientistMat
2009-04-06, 06:57 PM
It's true that the characters who die have had more emotional impact - but a good bit of this is because we, the audience, have had the time to become emotionally attached to them. We didn't have much time to form any attachment to Manpower - and given Stanley's habit of making random troops with a good Charisma score (well, that's how it would be under D&D rules, which probably don't apply here) the Chief Warlord, there's a good chance Wanda hadn't either - though she's definitely upset over it. Some of the dark features haven't been as obvious, and some of the ramifications weren't explored until now, but it's always been a world where war means casualty rates that would horrify General Grant.

Gez
2009-04-06, 07:08 PM
Well, I'd say that it's gotten darker. There have always been the deaths, and Manpower does die on the second page, but things are so...cutesy at the beginning, and the emotions and consequences are minimized. Manpower dies, without pain or blood, saying "I can taste key lime pie," making his death more a punchline than anything serious. The narration even states that he dies...which makes Wanda have a bad day. The fact that this named character has just died in battle is virtually ignored, his pain and suffering nonexistent. The only consideration given to him is the (apparently tedious) necessity of uncroaking him.

The first "on-screen" death which gets a reaction from the other characters and which isn't a punchline is the battle bear here:
http://www.giantitp.com/comics/erf0025.html

Killer Angel
2009-04-07, 02:49 AM
Would you think the series has taken a shift into darker, or has kept things at about the same level?

I'll cut and copy part of a mine old post, 'cause fits well for this topic.

The story has became darker, the "light" tone is fading more and more.
Part of this can be justified by the fact that the grafic art is evolving (even the sticky figures of OOTS changed from the first strips).
But the real thing, it's the narrative point.
I think it's normal to have now darker tones: the transition from ligh-hearted to dark and gritty, while we're getting closer to the climax, it's not a new thing: think about LotR (the books); in the beginning we had a lot of "funny" moments: Tom Bombadil is one of them... even the challenge between legolas and Gimly on who's killing the greater number of orcs is light-hearted. Then we have the journey through Mordor...
Also in other webcomics you can see the same pattern (the first book of Goblins?)

I think the final result is very good: now we're fighting for our lives, we're calling "all in". there's nothing to laugh about!
From a narrative point, i think the evolution it's great. :smallsmile:

Lichtouch
2009-04-07, 05:51 AM
We see everything from Parson's perspective.
Originally when Parson went to Erfworld, it seemed like all fun and games. He was just a master of strategy. He never saw any of the actual violence, he just saw a game grid.
Now it's getting much more hardcore, as you can probably tell.