Explanation post: His Face Forever Red

Here, I extend the backstory of Emily Carroll’s “His Face All Red” and by doing so, attempt to humanize the anti-hero of the comic.

I was surprised at myself when I sat down to write this post and this story came out. I always appreciate films and books that try to humanize the anti-hero/sociopathic character (Frankenstein anyone?); I believe it is more interactive in the sense that the reader is forced to reflect on their interpretation of that character. There were very human reasons why the anti-hero killed his brother and I strived to highlight just an example of “why?” in my story. I also wanted to provide a bit of background to instill more emotion and to lengthen the brothers’ relationship. I didn’t feel like, in the original comic, that the main brother felt any malice or hate towards the more popular brother- it was outside sources that led him to madness. So, I introduced the father character.

I decided to go the demon route because of the line the “brother” says when he comes back from the woods, “Thank God my brother killed that devil”. I read that as words only the demon brother wanted the other brother to hear; he said the words aloud, but it had a double meaning. It was a way of communicating to the anti-hero that the “brother” knows what happened. Not only that, but he says it himself, a “devil”. Gods and demons in mythology have a grand time messing with the mortals- here I saw no exception. Also, I had a problem with the abrupt ending with the corpse being turned over, eyes open. I wasn’t sure how to interpret that so I expanded on the possibilities and made an ending I was happy with. Too much ambiguity can be annoying to some readers, but just enough is intriguing. I strived for the latter with the last line.

The punishment at the end very much reflects Greek mythology. Most punishments are extended and violent (Ex: Prometheus), but nonetheless get the message across.

The moral I wanted the reader to leave with is to appreciate who you have in your life and don’t let outside sources hinder your thoughts. This is the reason I put the flashback in the beginning- the brothers didn’t have a negative relationship when they were alone.

Make your own choices. If you are unhappy, reflect on why, and make the necessary changes. If you don’t, you will wind up shut in a hole with your dead brother for eternity.

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