Thursday, November 13, 2014

What Batman Teaches Us About Characterization - Ashley Ladd Guest Post

Holy Batman!

Am I seriously suggesting that the 1960’s era TV Adam West version of ‘Batman’ that I watched as a kid can teach us about characterization?

Yes—good and bad.

When I finished making breakfast this morning and served my hubby in bed, he was watching the old sitcom so I joined him. After all, I absolutely loved this show—when I was six. It was my favorite thing on TV until I discovered Star Trek and fell in love with Spock.

Everything about the show seems so silly now that I was cringing—a lot. Yet, it was a real blast from the past.

This particular episode featured The Riddler played by Frank Gorshin, a very giggly, annoying villain who overplayed his part like all the other characters in the show. And of course this version of Batman was his usual stoic, heroic, super stiff self, not like the later charming Michael Keaton version.

My first reaction to the characterization was that it was way overdone, sickeningly so. Maybe it needed to be for six year old audiences but it’s irritating to my adult self.

So what do I think an over-acted, overly dramatic cast of characters can teach us about characterization? Although overdone (which teaches us to dial the dramatization down several notches and smooth off the rough edges) each character is unique.

Batman is always heroic, selfless, and stoic. He loves his expensive toys and always has some new gadget (or two).

Robin is eagerness personification—Holy cheesecake! this and that all the time. Whereas Batman speaks quietly, Robin usually raises his voice.

The Riddler giggles all the time and of course he leaves riddles as clues. He’s a prankster. And if we dared forget who he is, he wears a big question mark on his quest.

The Joker wears his evil, spooky grin. He’s a clown that makes us shiver, shudder, and quake in my boots. He’s pure evil itself.
King Tut is a psychopath who thinks he’s the reincarnation of the Egyptian monarch. He dresses like an Egyptian king and devises Egyptian-like crimes and punishments to fit with his persona.
I could go on but it’s clear that each player is a unique character. Still, in this early version of Batman, they are cardboard. We only got to view the black and white sides of their lives. Batman and Robin are pure good. The Riddler, The Joker, and King Tut are pure bad.

They’re a good start on characterization. They’re just one-dimensional. To make them truly interesting and sympathetic, they need more traits. They need to be rounded out. The 1960’s version of Batman might grasp a little kid’s attention but there’s a reason we don’t enjoy it as adults except perhaps for a few minutes traipse down memory lane—we want multi-dimensional, complex characters that make us think and emote. At least I do.

Keep Reading for an excerpt of Ashley's new release, Spooky Sojourn. (I luuurve this cover!)

Title: Spooky Sojourn
Series Name (If applicable) N/A
Publisher: Totally Bound
Genre: Contemporary Erotic male-female contemporary paranormal romance
Book Length: 50,000 words

Someone’s trying to kill Deanna, but is it the ghosts she doesn’t believe in, the rich socialite who might be a murderess, or someone else with a beef against The Gilroy Hotel and Resort that Deanna has just been hired to manage?  The Gilroy’s owners want the ghosts, or whoever is causing the trouble at the hotel eliminated, and they are pressuring Deanna to do the job as quickly as possible. Harry DeVeaux, paranormal investigator comes highly recommended to do the job and against Deanna’s better judgment, she hires him.

Although Deanna thinks Harry’s crazy for believing in ghosts and Harry thinks Deanna has a closed mind to the possibilities of ghosts and they highly annoy each other, sparks fly. Deanna can’t help but fantasize about Harry and inspired by a romance convention visiting her hotel, writes her fantasies in a private blog that Harry finds, hacks, and reads. Ooh la la!


Drawing in a long, shuddering breath, he looked heavenwards and crossed his fingers behind his back hoping she wouldn’t throw something at him, hoping she’d be okay with his admission. “I found your blog and read it.”

Paling, the blood fled from her flesh and her eyes looked like sooty coals against her face. Her gaze clashed with his and held. “How did you find it? I used a pseudonym and I put it on privacy settings.”

He screwed up his lips, and scrubbed his hand over his face, preparing to tell more painful truths. “I’m a bit of a hacker and I like to research the people I’m working with.” Not sure she’d be receptive to his theory, he left out the part that he thought the ghosts led him to her site. He thought they were closet romantics. He wouldn’t be surprised if they’d locked them into the room now to force them into some alone time together.

When a tsunami of emotions flitted across her face he tried to read them. Fury. Embarrassment. Lust?

“You investigated me? You read my private musings?”

“You wrote about me? In some very intimate ways. At least I presume it was me since you used my name.” He fixed her with a piercing gaze. “Did you?”

A pregnant pause rent the air as she veiled her eyes from his view. Finally, she smoothed her skirt against her legs and admitted, “Yes. I have very mixed feelings about you. You make me crazy the way we argue, the way you believe in ghosts, and yet I find myself thinking about you, fantasizing about you.”
Taking heart in the last part even if he wasn’t sure he liked the first, he said with a lopsided grin, “You fantasize about me much?”

As if she suddenly got bold, she sidled up to him with a mischievous twinkle in her eyes and ran the tip of her finger down his chest. “Aren’t my blogs proof? The question is, do you fantasize about me?”

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About the Author

Ashley Ladd is a disabled Air Force vet that is hard of hearing but still loves language, especially the written word. She loves a sexy man, especially one with a military background and they’ll often pop up in her stories. She also loves cats and has been known to empower a cat with the gift of speech. Unfortunately he wouldn’t shut up. J She loves to plug into Pandora and sip Diet Coke while writing, usually with a cat or kid at her side.

How you can contact Ashley: