Friday, October 11, 2013

Bookmonkey vs Hack/Slash: Day Eleven

The White Elephant in the Room… or if you will, the Blonde Cheerleader.

A few days back I was talking to a friend about my blog this month and our conversation went as follows:

Me: So yeah, I’m spending a month examining a horror comic series called Hack/Slash

My Friend: Never heard of it, what’s the gist?

Me: It follows a girl who hunts down and kills the various Slasher killers in her world, like Freddy or Jason

My Friend: So a sort of R-Rated Buffy?

Me: Well…

And then I realized that there is a lot in common between Cassie and Buffy, at least in basic concept.

For those unaware, Buffy Summers is the main character in the film/television/novel and comic book franchise, Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  In the original film she starts out as a self-involved popular high-school girl who finds out she is the reincarnation of “the slayer,” basically meaning she is destined to fight vampires and protect humanity.  The rest of the franchise expands on this, moving her to a town which sits above a “hell-mouth” through which all sorts of demons and monsters can access our world, and with the help of a number of friends and allies, Buffy spends seven television seasons, dozens of novels, and a comic book series finding out more of her destiny and saving the world.

Both characters come from a twist on Horror Film Tropes, but unlike Cassie, who is clearly meant to be the continuing adventures of a Slasher Film’s Final Girl – Buffy represents either the Final Girl’s best friend or the first girl killed in the movie – the popular blonde friend (examples range from P.J. Soles in Halloween (1978), to Amanda Wyss in A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) and Rose McGowan in Scream (1996).  Joss Whedon, creator of the character stated the concept came about from “…see[ing] a lot of horror movies which I’d loved very much, with blonde girls getting themselves killed in dark alleys and I just germinated this idea about how much I’d like to see a blonde girl go into a dark alley, get attacked by a big monster and then kill it” (qtd. In Buttsworth, 185), which does describe a standard character in horror, but not the same one represented by Tim Seeley’s creation, Cassie Hack.

Looking up comparisons between the character’s online, I found a lot of Buffy vs. Cassie sites, asking who would win in a fight (as Buffy has a significantly larger fan-base and a fourteen-year head start on Cassie, most of these sites assume Buffy would win.  In my mind, it’s sort of beside the point, like some early comparisons drawn between Harry Potter (1997) and Neil Gaiman’s Tim Hunter, the protagonist of the comic book series The Books of Magic (1992), where fans of the comic book character believed that author J.K. Rowling had plagiarized his already existing character.

Gaiman has publically stated that “…no, I certainly *didn't* believe that Rowling had ripped off Books of Magic, that I doubted she'd read it and that it wouldn't matter if she had: I wasn't the first writer to create a young magician with potential, nor was Rowling the first to send one to school. It's not the ideas, it's what you do with them that matters.” (Gaiman, 1998)

As I see it, both Buffy and Cassie and taking long-used character archetypes from Horror Films and using them to examine larger stories.  The only difference I see is that of intended audience; as a (primarily) television series, Buffy is more accessible to a wider audience, while as a violent, often gore-filled comic, Cassie appeals to fans of the sub-genre that she represents.

Buttsworth, S. (2002). “Bite Me: Buffy and the penetration of the gendered warrior-hero” in Continuum: Journal of Media and Cultural Studies. 16(2) 185-199.

Gaiman, N. (1998, March 19) Neil on Harry Potter and J.K. Rowling.  Retrieved online from:

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