Does whatever the author can

Enter the Author Character

He's shown up in nearly every one of these so far, but until now he's yet to say anything ridiculous enough to warrant a segue into this little diatribe. "Phant," which is what I'm calling him to avoid namedropping myself on the internet and because it's close enough to the name I've chosen for his re-imagining, was my self-insert of choice from 2006 up until about early 2013-ish.

He's not a particularly creative one - I just took someone else's OC, with his blessing. Minor adjustments to the design like changes to the eye color and the addition of a shirt came later, though that's not the point of this annotation. I'd like to talk a little bit about author characters.

First off, they're a fucking terrible idea. They're below the realm of creative thought. They're non-ideas. At least most Mary Sues have the dignity to disguise themselves as a character in the story. Your immersion in the story's still being broken, sure, but if you can buy into the character enough, you can find ways to look past it.

Harry Potter's a great example of this, to call back to some of the earlier strips. He's a Mary Sue, through and through. He's covered in plot armor, everyone's wondering where he is when he's not around, and his very existence is the thread that holds the world in the balance. It's not the best writing in the world, but J.K.'s billions can't go wrong. But if Harry was a direct insert for J.K.? If it was the story of Harriet Potter's adventures in this magical realm she wrote with this new-fangled pen invention? Nobody'd want that shit! You dig?

Second off, they can work. But only if you're clever, and 2008 me wasn't very clever. If they're used sparingly in service of a joke, they can work. If they're literally God and only show up when the characters have found God or need a Deus Ex Machina, maybe it could work. No promises.

So why is he here? Simple. When I wrote this, everybody who wrote webcomics on the internet did this, and that was the only experience I had to go off.

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