Thursday, October 19, 2006

Popular cartoon characters are not just funny drawings, they encapsulate the attributes of certain types of people; in fact, you can guess a great deal about someone by knowing their favourite cartoon. So it was with some interest I checked out my own character at a site 'Which Cartoon Character Are You? which claims to find your cartoon alta ego when you have answered a questionaire. I was surprised to find I was matched with Pepe le Pew - a rather lovable skunk. Well!!!

Having worked as an Animation scriptwriter for many years, I am always on the lookout for postures, gestures, and attitudes that can be used visually to sum up a character. In fact I get animators to act out the storyboard before animating it.
But there is another way of looking at characters. Sherlock Holmes almost certainly suffered from Aspergers Syndrome ; which typically comes out as a clever organised person who finds it difficult to make social contacts. Hercule Poirot was probably this way inclined as well.

My own Henry's Cat - who's favourite food is jellybean sandwiches - has an eating disorder. Miss Muffet suffered from fear of spiders, while Peter Pan feared growing up, and James Bond's charm is actually a cover up for his fear of commitment (quite common in men I'm told). If you are looking for some odd characteristics for your characters you might take a glance at Phobias. It is amazing what some people are afraid of.

It is also worth looking at Weird habits. I know a man who sticks his finger into his belly button when thinking; his jerseys have holes where he does this. Actors are always on the lookout for such habits. James Cagney used the trick of continually pulling up his trousers, for one gangster role. The coin-flipping gangster originated from a real gangster before becoming a cliche in the ganster movies. Humphry Bogart pulled his ear whenever he was thinking - in one role; and Harpo Marx based his odd outfit on a tramp he often saw.

One of the things I used to do was look at the questionnaires you find in magazines. Typically these might be 'Are you healthy', or 'Check your IQ', etc. Also the various internet questionnaires that ask a many questions to sort out your life-style. These questions give a good idea of the sort of compatible characteristic a someone might have, it is this compatibility that gives a character credibility.


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