Unoriginal Originals

As a story writer and comic artist, I can honestly say that creating Original Characters (OCs) is something that I take very seriously. An Original Character is exactly what it sounds like, a fictional figure where its whole life story is dictated solely on the creator’s imagination or desires. These characters are, technically, sort of like the writer’s own child except they don’t have to go through the exact same labors of parenthood because these ‘children’ are not real. OCs are extremely popular online in both the art and fanfiction community because it gives the fans a way to connect with their favorite fandom and feel like they’re actually a part of the story – whether it be based off a book, movie, game, and so on.

People create them either for plugging into on-going stories as a non-official character or as a person in their own written story. Either way, I try my best to appreciate every one of them as if they were my own. Sad to say, this appreciation has its standards and limits. With the ever growing population of OCs in the internet added to the amount of new shows being aired almost every day, it’s highly possible that one person’s ‘Original Character’ might look similar – or in some cases, exactly the same – as with another’s persons’.

It would have been fine if I came across two of the same OCs once or twice, but as time progresses, I’m starting to think that these people are deliberately doing this. It has come to the point that these characters are being grouped and characterized under multiple categories. Each of which have pre-dictated characteristic and personality sets that are being connected to each other stereotypically. Much like how people now hastily associate a character with pigtails as the childish type or those with short hair as the sporty-slash-tomboyish one without even getting to know the character first.

What’s even more surprising is that these categories are now becoming a norm when it comes to creating characters. Instead of moving away from this mindset of stereotyping physical attributes to a character’s personality, there are a lot of OC creators out there who use this as a basis. Heaven forbid that there are even Original Characters who are technically the official character of a show whose color scheme was simply changed. Rip-offs whose personality, pose and attire matches the original one but was just slapped with a sign that say, “My Original Character: Do not steal”. That’s basically like kidnapping someone’s baby then expecting others to acknowledge it as yours. I don’t think I even have to explain why that’s something you shouldn’t do.

Now begs the question, what is an original work? Is there really still such a thing as an original? Are we still capable of creating one?

First and foremost, it’s good to know that one person’s perception of originality may not be the same as another. Sometimes, if not most of the time, people quickly associate whichever is more famous as the original and disregards others that may have gone first. This may simply be because it was the first they’ve seen of something like it hence connecting the idea that what they just saw is the original. Another reason may be because it has been part of mainstream media and people are just going with the flow of the thought that what they just witnessed is the original.

To answer the first question though, as where the word ‘original’ is derived from, creators should first take a step back and review their own origin – which is life itself. If taken in a spiritual and more detailed context, I don’t believe there’s such a thing as an original because everything that we have now is basically inspired by our surroundings but just made better. Would that mean that we’re simply just copying God?

But disregarding all religious aspects, then yes, I believe that it’s still possible to create something original so long as the person veers away from the stereotypes. The problem with most of the so-called ‘originals’ we have now are actually just bits and pieces of other written works merged together into a blockbuster monster that media wants us to over glorify. Creators should take their time when creating their masterpiece and to base it off of their own experiences. Which is something no one person has the exact same one as another – making them unique and original as a person.

Another point to remember is that these people should not be plagued with the thoughts of whether or not others will react negatively to their work. It’s going to be your baby not theirs – raise it however you wish and had envision it to be; share with it your wisdom and knowledge, which do you want it to experience as well and which ones do you want to protect it from. For whatever happens, you know that it was your world first.

Isabel Escolar

By Isabel Escolar

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