Wayne Vansant’s KATUSHA GIRL SOLDIER OF THE GREAT PATRIOTIC WAR has been added to the popular fan-edited wiki tvtropes.com. A massive resource on all kinds of fiction, tvtropes.com describes itself as:
…a catalog of the tricks of the trade for writing fiction. Tropes are devices and conventions that a writer can reasonably rely on as being present in the audience members’ minds and expectations. On the whole, tropes are not clichés. The word clichéd means ‘stereotyped and trite.’ In other words, dull and uninteresting. We are not looking for dull and uninteresting entries. We are here to recognize tropes and play with them, not to make fun of them.
Here’s six ways tvtropes.com’s KATUSHA page shows what Wayne Vansant’s epic of the Eastern Front has in common with some of the most popular works of fiction:
1. Anyone Can Die – defined as “Anyone Can Die is where no one is exempt from being killed, including pets, children, the elderly, even the main characters (maybe even the hero)!”
The opening paragraph of KATUSHA BOOK ONE states “No one was safe.” Another example of Anyone Can Die: George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, the basis for TV’s Game of Thones (which actually featured Arya Stark stating “Anyone can be killed” in the second season trailer).
The Starks and the Tymoshenkos have more in common than they would probably wish.
2. Genre Savvy – a Genre Savvy character “doesn’t necessarily know they’re in a story, but they do know of stories like their own and what worked in them and what didn’t.” Tvtropes.com notes that Uncle Taras is genre savvy “in spades”.
Another example given of a genre savvy character: Roy Mustang of the anime Full Metal Alchemist
3. Too Dumb To Live – “The character who puts life and limb at risk by doing things that no sane human being would do.” TVTropes.com cites the Soviet officer who gets killed standing too close to the bridge he’s blowing up.
Another example of Too Dumb To Live: Almost every Red Shirt on Star Trek: The Original Series
Be it Soviet Red Army or Federation Red Shirt, just duck!
4. Shown Their Work – “…when the creators tweak their stories to show the viewer/reader what they have learned. The trick is to do it so this advances the story instead of stopping it cold. When it’s done right in a well-made work, awards for its educational value can be just as nifty as the artistic awards.” Wayne Vansant’s meticulous research definitely qualifies KATUSHA.
Another example of Shown Their Work given by tvtropes.com: the works of Frederick Forsyth
5. La Résistance – “A Ragtag Bunch of Misfits using the The Power of Friendship to fight against a tyrannical rule… always underdogs, they fight using guerrilla warfare and by raising the rabble of the people by revealing unpleasant truths about The Empire.”
In KATUSHA BOOK ONE, Katusha, her family, and friends form a partisan band to resist the German occupation. Another example of La Résistance: the kids of South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut
This may be the only thing that Katusha has in common with South Park.
6. It’s Personal – “this is where a character (or characters) has a highly close, emotional investment in the story’s conflict.”
There are many examples of this in KATUSHA, especially in Zhenya Gersteinfeld, who saw her parents executed by the Germans at Babi Yar. An example from fantasy literature cited by TVTropes.com: Harry Potter’s personal vendetta against the wizard who killed his parents, Lord Voldemort.
Zhenya only escaped execution herself with the help of her friend Vasily.
Altogether, tvtropes.com found twenty-eight popular fiction tropes identifiable in Katusha, but in a work as massive (over 500 pages) as Katusha there’s bound to be more.
In fact, Katusha creator Wayne Vansant has spotted a few more tropes that could apply to his graphic novel and webcomic series. Uncle Taras personifies the tropes The Charmer (“When he starts talking he can charm a crowd and it’s easy to see how he gets people to follow him”) and Badass (“a character who gets away with outright insane stunts”), a trait he shares in common with one of Vansant’s favorite TV characters: Boyd Crowder of Justified.
Wayne Vansant: “I suddenly thought of a very intelligent (although uneducated) person, who is philosophical and thoughtful, and loyal to his friends and those he loves, but can also kill at the drop of a hat. It is of course Uncle Taras, but another is Boyd Crowder of ‘Justified‘, to me one of the most complex fictional characters of recent times.”
KATUSHA GIRL SOLDIER OF THE GREAT PATRIOTIC WAR is a graphic novel trilogy by Wayne Vansant. Book One and Book Two are available in print and e-book format from Amazon.com, Comixology, and many other vendors. Book Three is expected to be published in 2015. Read the webcomic for free at katushagirlsoldier.com.