Comics Are Great! 03 – Mary Sue

September 24, 2010 by  
Filed under CAG Podcast, News, Podcasts

This time we take a trip to the murky waters of definitions in writing and storytelling. To complicate matters we take on a term first coined in fanfiction: the Mary Sue character. Though opinions differ on which characters stand as good examples of a Mary Sue (or Gary Stu, read the Wikipedia article), most agree on what a Mary Sue character’s traits are. They are generally held to be characters who act as a wish-fulfillment fantasy for the author, possessing unbelievable skills, unparalleled physical beauty, and solving a story’s crisis with relative ease. But these days it seems this term gets thrown as a criticism at virtually any kind of character in fiction, and if we extend the logic of wish-fulfillment out, can we even think of the act of writing itself a form of Mary Sue creation? How does one draw the line and make some distinctions so as not to go mad second-guessing everything they create?

I’m grateful to be joined by Dave Roman, Brandon Dayton, and Kasey Van Hise in an attempt to answer these questions.

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2 Responses to “Comics Are Great! 03 – Mary Sue”
  1. Great conversation. On the subject of whether Superman is a Mary Sue character or not, I think you could probably build a convincing argument that he was a Mary Sue for his creator, Jerry Siegel – the nerd who could get back at the bullies and impress all the girls, the whole “if they only knew who I really was” thing, is very much how Siegel felt from what I’ve read about him. He basically took “His Girl Friday” and added a Mary Sue to it. Of course, I could be talking through my cape.

  2. Carsten says:

    This is quickly becoming my favorite podcast. Kudos to drawing from Michael Chabon’s amazing compilation, Maps & Legends. Probably essential reading material for any author that wants to write stories for children and the young-at-heart.

    If Superman is a mary sue, then Jar-Jar-Binks is a gary stu! HA!