Reading between the lines.

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urthdigger
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Reading between the lines.

Post by urthdigger » 27 Mar 2009, 16:29

While reading the comic, I had an amusing thought. If you think too hard about it, S&W is quite dark. I know some of it is intentional, such as the references to suffering in other countries, but it's still possible to take even the personalities of some of the main characters in darker, more sinister tones. So, I tried to analyze the personalities of four of the characters, Sandra, Woo, Sid, and Shadow, with the intention of treating it like a dark, serious story, with hidden meanings about morality and such.

As a small disclaimer, I'd like to point out a few things. First, I am not a literary school graduate, so if it doesn't seem quite "professional", that's why. I'm just doing this for fun after all. Secondly, I'm well aware that I may have ignored a thing or two, this is intended to be biased. Lastly, this is not how I seriously view the characters: This was done with the intention of reading far too much into things to the point of seeing meaning where none exists and getting it all wrong.

So, let's get this train wreck moving.

---

Sandra: Innocent
Sandra is, above all else, an innocent bystander to Woo's mischief. His love issues (and his solution) and his gluttonous behavior both go unnoticed by her, even when she's only a few feet away. Perhaps more interesting is the role she unwittingly plays aiding him. Introducing him to the forest, owning a wildlife magazine subscription, and taking him to the exotic pet owner's organization are all examples of this. She serves as an example of how, despite one's best intentions, one's actions can always lead to trouble. Even if you are unaware of it.

Woo: Glutton
At first glance, Woo appears playful, cute, and innocent, but the truth is a fair bit darker. Despite having an owner who can give him the food he needs, he feels the need to go out and kill other animals to eat. This by itself wouldn't be disturbing, but the animals have a similar intelligence to his own, and he's capable of holding a conversation with them before snarfing them down. He's also shown that he's perfectly ok with killing someone over them annoying him... and if he gets a snack out of it, all the better. Whether underfed, ravenous, or if he actually enjoys ending other people's lives, it's clear that he cares little for the lives of anything smaller than him.

Sid: Victim
Sid's role in the story is that of the victim. Always on the run from predators, even his two best friends are just a belly rumble away from devouring him... though it's uncertain whether Woo is actually his friend, or merely pretending to be so Shadow won't eat him. A sympathetic individual to be sure, he exists in stark contrast to Woo's cavalier attitude towards the lives of smaller individuals.

Shadow: Nice guy
Shadow, as his name suggests, is an enigma. As a fox, he is perfectly capable of eating Woo and Sid, but unlike Woo, he sees smaller creatures as possible companions. As an obvious downside to this, Shadow is usually starving, something that is quite a concern for Sid, since regardless of his nice tendencies Shadow will consider his own life before others, like any smart person. Shadow is Woo's opposite, an individual who fails to see the futility of morals, even when they cause him great harm.
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Novil
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Re: Reading between the lines.

Post by Novil » 27 Mar 2009, 19:51

It’s a bit early for a deep psychological analysis of the characters and some of your thoughts might get disproven by future strips.

I think one shouldn’t apply human morals to the animals in Sandra and Woo. They don’t behave like humans since they are much more driven by instinct. That’s an important difference to the behavior of anthropomorphic animals in many other comics, except for example Over the Hedge which has a similar concept.

Since I am a huge fan of the D&D alignment system, I have tried to place all characters in it and came up with the following list:

Sandra: Neutral good
Woo: Chaotic neutral, leaning good
Richard: Lawful neutral, leaning good
Shadow: Lawful neutral
Sid: Neutral (There are not really many moral decisions to make when you’re a squirrel.)
Cloud: Lawful good
Larisa: Chaotic neutral

But remember: Having characters behave differently to their usual routine is one of the main sources of comedy. ;)
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urthdigger
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Re: Reading between the lines.

Post by urthdigger » 27 Mar 2009, 23:01

Oh, I know it's a little early to do a real psychological analysis of them, and that trying to apply the same morals humans follow to animals isn't right. I just thought it was a little amusing to try and look at how the characters can be perceived in a darker light: How, when viewed with the proper bias, Woo becomes a chaotic evil, immoral villain, Sandra becomes a pure neutral accomplice, and Shadow becomes a lawful good saint whose life would be extremely easier if he gave up his lofty goals and bit into a friend or two.

I suppose you can say it's an experiment on how emphasizing or omitting certain details can make a given situation sound drastically different. Sorry if it looked like I was being serious, I get bored waiting for the next strip to come out :D
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Ninja Skunk
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Re: Reading between the lines.

Post by Ninja Skunk » 04 Apr 2009, 03:19

You started with the words "Let's get this train wreck moving," So why would I expect you to be serious?

While we're casting a diabolic glare on everybody, though, I'd like to point out that Shadow could be considered a very evil, very scheming individual. Sure, Shadow stopped Woo from eating Sid, but it turns out it was only so Shadow could devour Sid himself! What was Shadow's nutritional factoid on squirrel meat, if not an execrable allusion to Sid's ensuing demise? Shadow's "gentlefox" behavior was only a disguise to throw rival predators off the trail!

But seriously, now...

Novil, you're probably going to start hating me soon, what with how much I disagree with you (just about everything, it seems), but my opinion is that's it's never too early for psychological analysis of your characters. After all, as long as a thought is backed up by logical reason and honest feelings, any thought could be considered a legitimate analysis.

From the reader's point of view, any character's personality is 100% present from the beginning, grown and nurtured from there; personalities are not hidden at first, and uncovered as the comic progresses. Therefore, any such analyses would not be nullified by later strips; the analysis on the character is based on how he or she acts now. Later strips would, instead, demonstrate how a character changes over time and toil.

For example, from the comics that have been released up until now (strip 47 as of this post) show Woo as being rather flirtatious. However, if, hypothetically, Woo just runs off and joins a monastery in strip 62, Woo would no longer be flirting with girls. Even though he would just be quietly humming to himself then, it wouldn't change the fact that Woo used to try to charm the ladies. The only way Woo could be "disproven" as a flirt is if you completely removed any evidence of such from the archives.

Going a bit further (feel free to stop listening whenever, I'm used to it), not only are deep psychological audits possible during early stages, but they can also be quite healthy for a comic character, if you listen to them. You can stand on a soapbox until Ragnarok about how your character possesses a certain personality; if no one else thinks so, your character doesn't have it. Psychological analyses can help an author see if she's writing the right actions for her star, or where she might change the character to receive a more accurate or desireable result for both her and her audience.

So, not only can we do deep psychoanalysis of Sandra and Woo this early, it might be a good idea. I both benchmarks the character, making it easier to compare at different times; as well as serving as a report, to see if a character is developing the way he was intended to.

...Okay, enough of my opinions. How was your day?
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Novil
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Re: Reading between the lines.

Post by Novil » 04 Apr 2009, 10:58

Well, I have drafts for single strips and storylines which will be published as late as summer 2010, so I have a quite good mental concept which way my characters will develop. I’m sure some of them will be very surprising to many readers, but certainly not all of them. There’s “and the art of (not) eating squirrels” in the tagline, so you can expect to see more attempts of Woo and Shadow trying to eat Sid. The tagline would not make much sense otherwise.
Sandra and Woo | Sandra und Woo auf Deutsch
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"Don't be someone who they forget!"
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