Drew: What do we need to talk about when discussing a work of art? Obviously, the answer will vary quite a bit depending on the art in question, but in the abstract, virtually every discussion needs to touch on the art itself, the artist(s) that created it, and the audience that observes it. We tend to focus on the relationship between the art and the audience here, believing that meaning arises when art is consumed, and that interpretation is the most important end-product of art. It’s an approach that keeps us from getting too mired in concerns over what the artist meant or what they might believe, but it might also prevent us from fully appreciating the art itself. The Unwritten Apocalypse 4, raises some interesting questions about the relationship between art and the artist that creates it, presenting it in the much more alluring (and knowingly meta) form of a story ripe for interpretation.
Do you find me sadistic? You know, I bet I could fry an egg on your head if I wanted to right now. No, Kiddo, I’d like to believe that you’re aware enough, even now, to know there’s nothing sadistic about my actions. Maybe toward those other jokers — but not you. No Kiddo. This moment? This is me at my most masochistic.
Bill, Kill Bill
Patrick: People often accuse storytellers of being sadistic. How else could they put the characters we love through such torment over and over again? That’s a weirdly archaic question — one that you’d think readers would be over by now, but not caring about characters is a charge that’s still leveled against writers on a nearly constant basis. George R. R. Martin gets an absolute mountain shit for so liberally (and gruesomely) torturing and killing his characters, and Dan Slott spent the last year receiving death threats and fielding questions like “why does Marvel hate Spider-Man?” The not-so-secret secret is that Martin and Slott actually love their characters, and putting them through the wringer probably hurts the author more than the reader could possibly imagine. It’s a sacrifice to behead the noble lord you’ve invented, it’s a sacrifice to override a hero’s good essential nature when you’ve worked so hard to cultivate it. In the world of The Unwritten, where fictions are made reality (or… maybe the other way ’round…), that sadomasochist is right there in the narrative, and he refuses to let the suffering end.