Episode 777: Deep Insight

Zombie Cliche Lookout: Snarky Reunions

Zombie stories are supposed to be tense. That’s kind of the point of them, right? It’s supposed to be a story where people are facing a daily struggle for survival, and not always being able to succeed. And when they fail, not only are they eviscerated alive by the walking dead, they will also become a zombie themselves unless one of their compatriots intervenes. The tension naturally develops with any survival story; the zombies just up the ante a bit.

All that said, keeping tension at the breaking point for the duration of the story just doesn’t work. It isn’t natural, and it’s exhausting for the audience. In life, there are peaks and valleys. Sure, there are times when it feels like the world is against us, but it isn’t constant. We’re not wired to deal with that. That’s what comic relief is designed to do: deflate the tension just a bit, and make the next jump up that much more punctuated as a result.

Note: I make no claims about BotD being funny nor tense; these are simply genre observations.

About this Episode:

Okay, we’ve got a tree now. Does everyone see the tree? Good.

As BrickVoid pointed out, you could see the root of the tree if you looked close, but I wanted to make sure no one thought I’d half-assed the set build.

Discussion Question: Isn’t that a Lovely Tree?

I’m kidding, of course. My real question is about the efficacy of comic relief in horror stories. Do you find that it works for you, or is it a pointless distraction? Does it matter if that comic relief is actually, you know, funny? For the point of discussion, let’s stick to straight horror stories here. Films like Shaun of the Dead are a whole other animal.

22 Comments

BrickVoid

Next episode should probably include some far-off zombie sounds, possibly just on general principle, or maybe to give the apocalyptic scenario a sense of keeping the survivors on their toes! 😀

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BrickVoid

As for the Discussion Question, there is no two ways about it, that really is a lovely tree! 😀 Tree leaves have not been available in autumn colors too readily until recently, and it’s nice to see these being put to good use! 😀

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Dave

I bought these from a third-party vendor, and am really happy with how they look. It’s really nice being able to use them to signify a seasonal change.

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BrickVoid

I take it you mean you bought them from a store or someplace that had instructions on how to build them from LEGO parts? The strangeness that sometimes creeps into my mind when you mention things like “3rd party” etc. 😀

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BrickVoid

BTW, Dave, congrats on reaching the triple-upside-down hockey sticks episode number: 777 😀

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pi3rk

Guess how is back!? (OK I’m 1 episode late…).

Nice to get to see the “other guys”, been a while since we saw Stew and Co.

IMO there is 2 ways to look at the comic relief in horror stories, first one is to show the spectator that the group of “soon to be victims” feels so safe they have time for jokes and quibbling, and that way we can also have the feeling that they are really stupid and “I wouldn’t do that in their situation”, bla bla bla…
The other perspective is that one of the opposite of being afraid is having fun and it’s usually a nice set up for a big tense action/gore scene, just like a roller coaster climbing high, just before falling down straight to heII (of course this doesn’t apply to parodies).

Oh and welcome back Dave!

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Dave

“just like a roller coaster climbing high, just before falling down straight to heII ”

Excellent analogy. A writing profession in college used that before and I’ve always thought it was really illustrative.

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Greg

Thinking of “comic relief” one would usually think of everyone having a healthy laugh… but the thing is, and I suppose this is even more true in horror stories, the laugh would typically be at the expense of someone and be anything but funny. I recently finished a story that illustrated this very well. “The Lord of the Flies” – somehow, I had never read it – one of the things that sticks with me is how the group uses Piggy as comic relief by constantly mocking him.

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pi3rk

Always thought it’s a pretty rough book IMO, considering it almost a must study book at school in France (around 12-14 years old)

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Greg

That story is extremely rough. Under a veil of childish innocence it is as tough as any other survival story and I would not consider this to be a book for kids.

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Dave

Lord of the Flies is probably my all time favorite book. I’ve probably read it fifteen times or more. It’s such a brutal, dark look at the way our society could crumble so easily should people start only caring about themselves.

Greg

Hehe, I had a feeling this one would be on your shortlist… but I thought “the Road” was your favorite?

Greg

So, you run a comic that deals with zombie Lego figures as a hobby.. your favorite books are horrible tales of survival in a post apocalyptic world where society collapses completely (one might argue that Lord of the flies is not post apoc, but if I am not mistaken there is a reference to an atomic bomb in the story?)…
Somehow I am picturing you using this as an opening line in a speed dating context…

Steam Powered Spam

You’re back! You’re finally back! I have another web comic to read again!

As for the question: humor is actually welcomed as long as its funny. A ‘captain obvious’ statement, obviously. But a lot of horror films get it so WRONG.

Instead of leaving humor up to one sole comic relief character who, predictably, is there to just die eventually, humor is best scattered across all the characters, each with their own brand of humor and when its needed.

It also makes it much more heart breaking when they get killed off…

A good example of this would be Stand Still Stand Silent comic.

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Pepper Valentino

Lol! Would have been hilarious if you would’ve, last minute, copy-pasted a picture of a tree into the comic! 😀 🙂

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Pepper Valentino

Hah! Thinking of dave scrambling to make a tree for the comic.

Welcome back! Very nice tree and set! Cant wait for more. And comic relief is good. Lol.

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Mick

You’re right about comedy being a necessary part horror stories. The stress is exhausting for the characters too, so naturally they would try to relive it. Humour is one way to do that.

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