Friday, March 1, 2013

Magic in Stories for Children: Part Ten - The Superhero Genre

Just as the science depicted in science fiction stories has to be believable, so do magic powers in a fantasy tale, or the reader will lose both interest in the book and respect for the writer. All-powerful spells are fine to include in a story, but in the Harry Potter books even formidable characters such as Dumbledore and Voldemort have their weaknesses. Wands can be broken and people can be killed, so the adventure is all the more realistic. After all, if anything is possible, the story is so much less interesting.

My fourth novel, The Emerald Curse, was inspired by my own love of comic books as a child, but I lost interest in Superman as a character very early on. He was simply too powerful, even though there was the mysterious, but rare, kryptonite that could kill him. I was much more drawn to the heroes of the Marvel universe, with their real life issues and troubles, albeit with the addition of super powers and deadly villains intent on taking over the world. The superhero genre is of course still very popular with children and teenagers and as a young boy I devoured the comics featuring the awe-inspiring adventures of superheroes on their adventures in New York or in outer space and other dimensions.

While a different genre to fantasy tales involving magic, the source of a hero’s power was usually very heavily influenced by traditions prevalent in fairy tales or mythology. Green Lantern, for example, is given his all powerful power ring by a benevolent alien. In the Marvel universe, Donald Blake discovers an old walking cane in a cave in Scandinavia only to discover it is in fact the lost hammer of Thor in disguise. The comic book genre may feature characters with super powers, but in many cases these are largely indistinguishable from the magic employed by witches and wizards for centuries in tales for children and in folklore.

Learn more about The Alchemist's PortraitThe Sorcerer's LetterboxThe Clone Conspiracy,  The Emerald CurseThe Heretic's TombThe Doomsday MaskThe Time Camera and my many non-fiction books on my website.

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