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Author Topic: Theme of NofNA  (Read 3772 times)
Dr. Mad
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Posts: 4


« on: July 24, 2009, 04:49:27 AM »

Zack,

Excellent comic you have here.  Really really enjoy reading it and the daily update is insane, you must have a several week long comic buffer.  Been posting in the comments for some time now, migrated over to the forums for a spell.

The central theme to NofNA seems to revolve around a male protagonist developing some new-found power despite major odds and the scorn of his peers, which eventually leads him to conflict with his direct superiors over societal behaviors, all in a college based, classroom, competitive setting.  There is always a female character present as his friend and confidant, these two characters will always fight at some point, usually over perceived differences in the societal behaviors.  The new-found power of the male protagonist is always self destructive and eventually leads to his dissolution as a character and his eventual exile.  The female character usually parts on bad terms as well, always taking the side of authority and society.  The central moral of the story seems to be, personal victories aside, the law and society win out in the end and some semblance of order is maintained despite the changes to the characters involved.  This was the path of 10%+ and seems to be the way Secretary is headed.

Does this relate to your real life experiences with martial arts school and your renegade attitude to society?  Do the powers described in NofNA relate to your passions and hobbies which separate you from mainstream society and may be deemed "self-destructive" when compared to the norm?

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Stella
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Posts: 52


« Reply #1 on: July 24, 2009, 06:03:48 PM »

Hm.  Not sure I agree with your theories up there.  Mainly because there's only been 2 arcs.  I can definitely see some of the parallels you draw between Secretary and 10%+.

On the male protagonist: I remember Zack saying that he had an arc based around Fiat.  Also, I always felt that 10%+ was just as much Quintet's story as it was Meander's.

The female character takes the side of society:  For Secretary I agree with this, but not for Quintet.  Her values were aligned with society's, but she supported Meander (but maybe not his actions).  She remained loyal to him during the battle with the teachers and through the trial, all the way to the very end when she drives him away.

I definitely like the bit about developing a new found "power" though, it fits fine and I can see it playing part in later arcs.  It may not always be a power, or style, but it could be a philosophy or an understanding.  It'll be interesting to compare the next arc with your analysis to see what matches up!
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Zachary Braun
(Administrator)

Posts: 118


« Reply #2 on: July 24, 2009, 07:39:41 PM »

That's a good analysis; Because NofNA takes a lot of energy to make, some aspects of internal story structure may be reused. I agree with Stella though: in the future, different structures may emerge.

I do think it's interesting that, so far, the male leads have taken precedence in being the catalysts for the stories. I have a truckload of female leads for future stories. Let's see where they take us.

Personally, the only martial arts experience I have is book-studying some wu shu and wu shu theory, as well as having a friend who has been attending wu shu classes for many years. (I also took Tae Kwon Do twenty years ago, but it hardly counts as practically none of that has been committed to long-term memory). The gross majority for what you see in NofNA is my 10+ years of interest in psychology and neurology, and how those aspects of the mental landscape manifest in human behavior. Learning about psychology and its sociological counterpart gave me a real respect for the human brain that I don't quite have for other animal brains (yet?). It is a really incredible organ in us.

Through NofNA, I hope to continue to share what I've learned in an entertaining fashion. I think there will definitely be a running theme (or themes) that will become more apparent as more stories are added.
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Randomcuriosity
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Posts: 40


« Reply #3 on: July 24, 2009, 11:07:29 PM »

.... I like the phrase mental landscape. Smiley



on another notew, kudos to Dr.Mad for pulling that out of these storylines. I think there is a certain way of how both meander and SV both have a stranger way of thinking than the other animals. They both also seem to have drawn different conclusions from the rest of us as to what society is, what it wxpects from its members, and how we should treat others and be treated by others. ...Or maybe, its not different ideas. Its just the same ideas, but with an animalistic twist
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Dr. Mad
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Posts: 4


« Reply #4 on: July 25, 2009, 04:52:52 AM »

Ah cool, I have a friend who is a psychology degree; he is always interesting talking to.  I agree with the statement that our minds are an interesting organ, our brains are one of the most under appreciated resources we take for granted every day. 

The psychology aspect of your tales are neat, each character seems to possess some sort of mental "defect" (or at least it COULD be termed a defect in psycho-speak, depending on whether the individual was able/not able to cope with it and society each day), and definitely display oodles of personality, which is a far cry from many cookie-cutter webcomics out there.  Stephen King was one of the first authors I read that revealed to me without good characters and unique, individual personalities, your story isn't going anywhere.  Your stories are really good, it's gotten to the point where I'm now actively posting on the forums/comment log everyday, (heh, I'm not sure if I should call this a psychosis yet...)

Is Meander's metanoia resembling somebody with ADHD, possibly concentrating on too many things at one time and losing the big picture in the process?  Or that he's traveling down his own individual road so far with his mind splitting technique that the rest of his memories no longer mean anything to him?  One of the main reasons why human intelligence is so provocative is that we possess a sense of "Time", that there is/was a definite "Past" and will be/is a definite "Future" to our lives.  Has he split his thoughts up into so many sets of awareness that he's essentially given himself Alzheimer's, where his awareness essentially doesn't exist anymore?  I'm reminded of the speech Rabo Karabekian makes in Kurt Vonnegut's "Breakfast of Champions", in the scene with all the main characters at the piano bar of the Holiday Inn...  "All of us stripped of everything is a shimmering beam of light, representing our awareness." [This is probably mis-quoted, its something like that.  Where the hell is my copy of BofC when I need it?] Without awareness, all our actions, deeds, everything we can possibly do, is for naught.  So his own super ADHD technique (or maybe not, it might have been Rule's tech that finished him off, I forget) lets him win his current actions but costs him his overall awareness.

SV's story seems to concentrate on throwing that everything else away (i.e., his past and his potential future at the college) from the get go, and seeing how far down the rabbit hole he goes. Would this be more of an example of OCD, or possibly schizophrenia (though I think there is a touch of the schizo in Quintet for obvious reasons, so we may have already explore there), where one endangers life and limb in pursuit of a mad quest?  Ultimately, in SV's case, it seems he gives up even MORE than those who normally give up something for their passions (I thought TY's speech was SV lecturing the class around page 156 and that the comic was already over!  Thank god it wasn't  Smiley ).   Somehow SV came out the other side with a technique that isn't self-destructive, its the exact opposite (*supposed* to be constructive, LOL, good luck with that, SV.  TY seems not to be listening anymore in 188).  It seems even more so like OCD with SV, as soon as he finishes his first mad quest, he's not finished yet; he says: "A path that I must share with EVERYONE," segueing him into mad quest number 2!...  Throwing himself with heedless abandon into a deliberate fight with the number one student from his old class...  Wonder what mad quest number three will be?  Not get killed by furious college teachers?

So maybe that's part of the main difference here between 10%+ and Secretary... at least so far.  Covering different aspects of the mental landscape, as you put it.  I'm sure there are definite versions of our various psychoses in animals out there in real life; we are probably just too blase, taking our animals for granted, etc. to really see it.  Those who live with/understand their animal's personalities enough probably have a greater understanding of the human condition than they realize.
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Zachary Braun
(Administrator)

Posts: 118


« Reply #5 on: July 25, 2009, 11:51:07 AM »

Quote
Is Meander's metanoia resembling somebody with ADHD, possibly concentrating on too many things at one time and losing the big picture in the process?

According to my notes on this style, it is a representation of what ADHD has the potential to become given time for evolution. Those with ADHD and similar attention deficits cannot focus on any one task for very long, but those who have surmounted the negative aspects of short attention spans and mastered their ADHD are able to juggle many tasks at once. This neurological trait could become very useful in our increasingly complex and diversified world. It was Meander's misfortune that he was trying to apply this ability without the neurological structure required to support it.

As for SV representing an individual with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, I think that this is only partially true; he is more focused on the catharsis of his past, and whatever it takes to create that. He doesn't seem to be continually drowning in the details like a person with a truly debilitating Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Malice is a complex subject, and SV is avoiding breaking that down like how Meander had to break "intelligence" down into "attention". I think he bit off way more than he could chew. (pun intended)

Many years ago, NofNA was originally conceived to showcase a variety of psychological and neurological disorders, but it has since evolved from that and now showcases the stories and situations that surround and create people and history, disorders or none.
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Guilen
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Posts: 3


« Reply #6 on: July 26, 2009, 01:37:43 AM »

urm... if there's going to be something like 15 arcs someday, I might die happy
no pressure! Just now and then you make it sound like there is so much more you've got brewing. And that's exciting. Yes.

Also, there's a degree to which I don't think Zach should so much answer questions about which characters speak directly for him or not. From an artistic standpoint, I think it would be kinda limiting to have him pegged down, don't you? I think people might misuse that knowledge to tell him what he's writing, and that would spoil the spirit of it. But, that's just a thought really, your conversations are not mine Smiley
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Noctuidae
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Posts: 2


« Reply #7 on: July 28, 2009, 08:46:26 PM »

The female character usually parts on bad terms as well, always taking the side of authority and society.

Hmm... I don't think that Quintet really cares about society (in general) that much, in fact it seems that Meander cared and was more aware of their society, and the fate/aims of society especially, than Quintet. Meander seemed to extend his 'family' to other people very easily (Quintet, the coyotes, even Rule http://www.nofna.com/?T=1-1-50-207) and he always treated everyone well, which is why he had to go against certain ideas in society, to protect this family. Quintet, however, cares more about her family (Meander included) than society, which is why she tries to stop Meander from getting in trouble, and then goes against society to protect him. She's just as loyal to family, but Meander's idea of family extended to people outside of society.

Also I'd like to point out that this loyalty to family is exceptional for both their species, but it's confirmed that in Quintet's case it's also exceptional within society too. Although her father stayed around to raise the kids, her siblings are still quite ready to abandon her if she's found guilty (http://www.nofna.com/?T=1-1-50-166)...we don't know for Meander, not seeing a typical maned wolf family within society.

Personally I think that the characters motive's in 10% are concerned with family, with consequences that effect society as a whole, while SV's personal experience with his family has created a philosophy that he intends to use to change society/ college.
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Dr. Mad
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Posts: 4


« Reply #8 on: September 18, 2009, 05:54:45 AM »

Yeah, Guilen, it's definitely not fair to peg down an author/artist like that.  Read a lot of literature and you get to thinking they're all the same; storylines with stereotyped main characters in a fixed plot with a distinct beginning, middle, and end.  One should not and cannot get stuck into that line of thought (unless its paying the bills and it doesn't matter anyway, but that way lies conformity, inanity, and banality, think Garfield here) about artists involving their storytelling, and it's dumb of me to try to break down something as complex as NofNA into something commonplace.

Jesus, imagine the readership if you could get something as meaningful as NofNA into the newspapers... but it'll never happen, remember what happened to Calvin and Hobbes?  Newspapers kept cutting down on the comics size, Waterson had to increasingly curb his intellectualism as corporations complained, and in the end it just wasn't worth it as the stories were getting watered down to trash.  You NEVER see the half page features like Calvin and Hobbes used to enjoy anymore in the Sunday funnies.  Zach would not be happy being constrained to 3 panels daily with a corporate mentality to production, either.   (Probably the great political correctness of the modern age is what killed the newspapers; they tried TOO hard to conform when privately people WANT their information to be quirky and offensive, a purpose the Internet serves abominably well.)

I guess the Internet is the great new Medium of the aspiring artist nowadays, where one isn't constrained by paper limits, editors and censorship.  Unfortuantely, it's also a great big garbage heap with a ton of competition, which makes it all the harder for the real gems to stand out.  Don't let your fans get to you, Zach, just keep on doing what you originally set out doing.  Let Fame be its own reward.
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