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Cashing in on famous characters of fiction

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In reply to an earlier post on 20 Jan 2013 21:25:16 GMT
Last edited by the author on 20 Jan 2013 21:27:31 GMT
monica says:
Oh, well done G. Owens. A musical reference nearly as obscure as the linguistic one. I wonder, did Bonzo Dog Band precede or follow Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band? Which made me wonder, in turn, whether there are more people who've heard of Jefferson Starship than of Jefferson Airplane. (D'jeffferson-Aeroplane, for those who went to a good school.)

In reply to an earlier post on 19 Jan 2013 20:53:45 GMT
Last edited by the author on 19 Jan 2013 20:59:38 GMT
gille liath says:
Yeah, there is a difference. Actually pretending to *be* those people is a bit weird.

But there the analogy with fiction breaks down - someone 'recycling' established characters doesn't have to pretend to be the original author.

Don't watch the Wire - I hate cop shows except a British one you probably haven't seen, appropriately called The Cops (and one or two older, dafter ones like Starsky & Hutch and The Sweeney). But I used to listen to a radio show that did much the same thing.

In reply to an earlier post on 19 Jan 2013 20:48:38 GMT
Anita says:
I've seen maybe an episode or two of House, but never even thought of Sherlock Holmes... A compliment to show makers, I suppose :)

(If *that* is the show you are talking about...)

In reply to an earlier post on 19 Jan 2013 20:45:55 GMT
Anita says:
Just to clarify even more :), and it was said before, I think, I do see a difference between tribute bands and cover versions. There *are* rather good cover versions (and if by any chance you watched "The Wire", one of my favourite shows, and good for some not-TV-watcher like me, as we don't have it on TV, and I do watch DVDs... so, if you watched it, you know what I mean, the theme tune, the same and by different musicians every season). And that's *not* even saying anything on classical music and such.

However, what I refer to as 'tributes' is a bunch of guys trying to present a 'copy' of the original. And there my huge dislike starts...

In reply to an earlier post on 19 Jan 2013 20:22:28 GMT
gille liath says:
Yeah - which is as much as to say that, like anything else, it depends how well it's done.

Posted on 19 Jan 2013 20:20:31 GMT
Garscadden says:
On the subject of famous characters - especially Sherlock Holmes. Hugh Laurie's long running portrayal of a character which is pretty much Sherlock Holmes in a modern setting is, I think, very well carried out. Obviously I have no idea who the writer was, so Hugh Laurie gets the credit.

(Not that I actually have seen that much of the programme in question - but I know someone who was a big fan, and ended up watching a reasonable amount).

I think in cases such as that, and Flashman, where an existing character is taken, and an interesting new scenario is built around them - well, that's not bad at all. And that's similar to the interesting musical covers I suppose. Just lifting the character and doing more of the same doesn't add anything, and just shows a complete lack of any kind of imagination.

In reply to an earlier post on 19 Jan 2013 19:47:54 GMT
Last edited by the author on 19 Jan 2013 21:58:29 GMT
gille liath says:
Just to clarify: tribute bands don't appeal to me per se, but - if it's a choice between the two - I'd rather a pub band play somebody else's good songs than their own rubbish ones. And if they do a good job, as an experience it can even be better than the real thing (given that you're only ever likely to experience the real thing in some massive, soulless stadium where you're treated like livestock for export).

In reply to an earlier post on 19 Jan 2013 10:10:46 GMT
Anita says:
Sorry, I have a knack for P. S.s it seems...

Don't know a thing about Australia to be honest, but once I happened to see a 'tribute' concert for Queen on TV. Okay - I'm not a TV watcher and not a big Queen fan, still, it found it just... horrible.

When I was *much* younger and (for some reason) angry with myself, I did read Gone With The Wind. Was very much surprised, as the book was a lot better than I expected (thouroughly hated the film btw, the film itself/the main actress were as anemic, as the book was full of life). So later did read the so-much-talked-about sequel. Now, talk about bad. I ended up counting things that were, allegedly, picked up from the original (some character trends of the main characters, etc.) and were sooo badly amiss...

Posted on 19 Jan 2013 09:50:29 GMT
Garscadden says:
I remember reading a kids shakespeare book when I was younger, it *may* have been Tales from Shakespeare (Wordsworth Children's Classics) - I remember it as being quite well done, not hugely interesting at the time, but better than most of the rubbish they have you reading at that age. I did find that when I cam to read shakespeare at school having an idea of the stories was actually quite beneficial.

In reply to an earlier post on 19 Jan 2013 09:43:24 GMT
Anita says:
"...whilst I actually enjoy my job, I do primarily because it makes me more money than the thing I would like to be doing..."

No different for me. :) (And I too do like my job.) However, doing only what I'd really like to do would mean starvation - or doing it for money, and then I'd hardly so much enjoy doing it... (I love my freedom doing some things.) And for some reason that's not even upsetting at all.

I know a girl who's totally in love with her city, loves to know every nook of it, every building, all the history behind it, etc. She totally enjoyed to learn a lot at the tourist guide courses. Then she went to work as a tourist guide for a short while... and thourougly hated the job. Don't try to make money (living) of what you really like, she said then. (Something anyone's free to disagree :) )

Veering off topic, am I not.

And that's perhaps off topic again (but maybe not) what I really thourougly hate is cashing in worlds classics by making those "illustrated classics" books for children. (Someone has mentioned *that* version of my beloved The Three Musketeers, and there are lots of others.) In my opinion it's just a crime against literature. I do know there are lots of people who would disagree and who buy such books. But still. If you can't read the book as it is, don't read it at all! (*Just* a personal opinion!!)

In reply to an earlier post on 19 Jan 2013 08:19:28 GMT
Garscadden says:
The parody things is interesting - there is an author whose work I enjoy - Adam Roberts. I found his books The Snow and Stone (Sf Masterworks) very entertaining, inventive and well written, his more recent sci fi (Yellow Blue Tibia: A Novel and New Model Army get very good reviews. He seems to get nominated for awards frequently. On top of that, he is a prof of nineteenth c literature, and has written a couple of very academic works.

All in all - he comes across as an inventive, capable and intelligent writer.

He also seems to output a huge amount of parody - I can't say I've ever read any, so maybe it is actually good, but it doesn't look like it. Plenty of those horrible looking parody books on display in book store chains (when they existed), they seem to be from him. It was only recently I realised they were the same person, I always assume it was two different Adam Roberts... I *assume* the parody books are just a money making scheme, and that once you have a formula a capable author can knock them out quickly - much like generic romance books, which I believe some other authors do under a pseudonym.

(I just did try the look inside of one of his parodies. Yep - not something I think I'd enjoy, but it did have moments of interest (I skimmed the star wars parody, and whilst stupid, it does make the old terrorist / freedom fighter comparison, which seems almost grown up for puerile parody).

Anyway - I found it interesting when I realised that they were the same person, that someone would knock of trash just to make money. But is it really any different to most of us? I imagine I am not alone in doing a job that, whilst I actually enjoy my job, I do primarily because it makes me more money than the thing I would like to be doing...

As for those cover bands - weren't the original complete imitation ones a phenomena in Australia? I thought the general things was that most bands actually don't spend the money to tour Aus (expensive to do, relatively small population, so presumably not really commercially viable). Seeing as the original bands didn't tour, enterprising musicians would learn a bands' setlist, and do covers tours, which while never as good as the real thing (I assume), did go down really well because the real thing was never available. Whilst a bit odd, I can completely see what the attraction would be in that situation.

I'd also say that some bands actually to all intents and purposes become cover bands / rip offs *of themselves* - I saw the Dead Kennedys a few years ago, and they weren't really them, as it were, but i still kinda enjoyed it. All these 90's indie bands that reform every so often - are they really any more than covers versions of their former selves for the most part?

Posted on 18 Jan 2013 22:26:55 GMT
G. Owens says:
I'm not sure labiodental should be hyphenated, but the product link don't work otherwise
Labio-Dental Fricative [Explicit]

In reply to an earlier post on 18 Jan 2013 21:21:45 GMT
gille liath says:
Do wot? :)

I can't tell whether you approve or not, but I'm grateful that someone at least got it.

In reply to an earlier post on 18 Jan 2013 20:53:08 GMT
monica says:
Oh wow like so thank you for adding yet another islet of ambivalence to one of the archipelagos in my mental map: On the one hand good show, but on the other you disappoint me for failing to avail of the opportunity to work 'fricative' and 'plosive' into a pun that makes the same point--surely it wouldn't have been a difficult thing to do . . .

In reply to an earlier post on 18 Jan 2013 19:59:14 GMT
Last edited by the author on 18 Jan 2013 19:59:32 GMT
gille liath says:
Yeah, it's a difference of aspiration (little linguistics pun there).

Posted on 18 Jan 2013 10:48:41 GMT
G. Owens says:
Now - I think there may be a line to be drawn here between "ripping off" and "riffing off".

Oz Reimagined: New Tales from the Emerald City and Beyond
Some of these writers I really rate, Ken Liu for example,

But this is quite a complex thing. Ken Liu (as a randomly chosen author from this collection) is a prolific and talented writer of short stories, with a couple of ponies in the Hugo and Nebula races. This year we are going to see one, maybe two, Oz movies and all the original Oz stories are public domain - therefore fair game. So working with the assumptions that a) Nobody but a blockhead ever wrote for anything except money, and b)Oz is about to be reinvented on the big screen for the new century, it makes sense for authors in the process of trying to make a reputation for their own stuff to use an opportunity like this to piggyback on the popularity of an upcoming intellectual property.

If Oz: The Great and Powerful is a big hit, then people might look for something set in the same universe, and if they read one of these stories it might lead them on to other works from the authors. No such thing as bad publicity.

However - having said all that, this is essentially Oz fanfic, so I don't personally fancy it myself, but the sales of Wicked (Wicked Years 1)show that there's a big market for it.

Writing at the entry level for a hungry pro looking for the breakout hit is all about balancing who you are as a writer no one has ever heard of, with what the big beasts are up to and what the publishers say that the public wants

Quality is the key - if you do anything well you can get away with it

In reply to an earlier post on 18 Jan 2013 09:27:44 GMT
Anita says:
If you mean this one

The Night of the Triffids

sorry, but - arrrggghhh!!!

It could have been a decent book, maybe. But why on earth Clark had to use classics to write something of his own? And - maybe you have noticed - the triffids themselves were happily forgotten at the page 5 or 10...

Posted on 18 Jan 2013 04:58:43 GMT
bloosn says:
I read a "sequel" to The Day of the Triffids, and was glad I did....

In reply to an earlier post on 17 Jan 2013 22:58:15 GMT
gille liath says:
And there's that other old saw: imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Though I don't think Mike Yarwood was what they had in mind...

In reply to an earlier post on 17 Jan 2013 22:55:55 GMT
gille liath says:
Parody is the lowest form of comedy, as sarcasm is the lowest form of wit and satire used to be the lowest form of poetry. But it is still comedy.

In reply to an earlier post on 17 Jan 2013 22:50:34 GMT
gille liath says:
Don't agree there. I'd far rather hear a good covers band than a terrible original one, and I think (judging by the usual reactions of pub audiences) most other people would too.

In reply to an earlier post on 17 Jan 2013 22:36:06 GMT
Anita says:
Yes, it was the same post, and I did check out the book (stupid curiosity), and things like changing names into "Dildo" or "Pepsi" or whatever seem to me plain idiotic, sorry. Not trying to generalize anything here, if anyone finds that funny (or interesting??) so be it, but personally I'm totally unable to get things like that. Some chipset missing in me, maybe.

It may be different for TV shows, but talking about books I can't help but see parodies mostly as the aforementioned examples of lack of imagination (or any sense of humour at that) and just someone's inability to create something of their own. NB: as always, there probably are exceptions. Just few and far between...

Posted on 17 Jan 2013 21:40:04 GMT
Sou'Wester says:
Apropos parody, I think this is slightly different. For example, to a certain extent, Jane Austen wrote parody (particularly with "Northanger Abbey"); she was. albeit very gently, "extracting the michael" of the popular Gothic novels of her time and ended up producing something infinitely greater. So, no - I wouldn't automatically dismiss parody.
Monica mentions impressionists, where I do have more of a problem. Those who seem to rely solely on their ability to imitate others have no appeal to me whatsoever. The exceptions are people for whom the ability to do impressions is just one of many talents. I'm thinking of people like John Bird - whose impression of Harold Wilson in 1960s satire programmes was often scathingly funny and clever; the impression was very good but it was what Bird was saying that impressed. Before that, of course, there Peter Cook's superb and ground-breaking impersonation of Harold MacMillan - it's still screamingly funny fifty years after Cook first performed it.

In reply to an earlier post on 17 Jan 2013 21:17:16 GMT
Last edited by the author on 17 Jan 2013 21:18:14 GMT
monica says:
But parodies can be affectionate as well. In fact, I can't think offhand of a parody I've read that felt mocking--at most some, like Craig Brown's (as when he's taking off an autobiography written by someone famous for nothing), are taking the mick and to me that's not the same as pure mocking. (Sorry for so idiomatic a phrase--'taking the mick' to me implies having someone on or simply teasing them.) Hadn't thought about it but possibly intent to mock leads to writing of something ironic, or something straightforward but pointed (like Twain's essay on Fenimore Cooper.) Impressionists--comedians who imitate voice & mannerisms of famous people, often politicians--aren't so far as I know of accused of mocking, not even by their targets.

I might have read the same post; if I did, it's telling that it was by someone saying that books he read over and over were LOTR *and* the parody Bored of the Rings . . .

Posted on 17 Jan 2013 17:37:55 GMT
Anita says:
Just noticed someone mentioning a parody of The Lord of the Rings on another thread.

A disclaimer: no, I'm not the world's biggest LOTR fan and so I'm not offended because of someone mocking something I love. Just I think any parody is of aforementioned "cashing in" genre. It seems every more or less famous thing tends to get a parody (ies). The mere fact of some people making good money of it notwithstanding, I think it's an utterly stupid thing to do (whatever the quality of the original). So those who want to write something funny don't even need to create anything? Just take whatever *is* and make some mockery of it?

I'd happily add *all* parodies to the Sou'Wester's post above (sorry, Sou'Wester)
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Discussion in:  fiction discussion forum
Participants:  17
Total posts:  59
Initial post:  7 Jan 2013
Latest post:  20 Jan 2013

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