Good evening! Periodically, I choose a specific punk genre and discuss it thoroughly. The world is full of niche genres and most people aren't familiar with them. Today, I'm covering an obscure genre called gothicpunk, also spelled gothic punk. Some punk genres make more sense than others and this one could be a useful method for creative content if it builds some popularity. Let's take a look at this unusual subgenre of fantasy and science fiction.
What is gothicpunk? Basically, it's a dark, gritty, ominous, and urban setting that usually takes place during contemporary periods. The story and characters typically have a rebellious nature, especially against authority or corruption. Most importantly, supernatural creatures are heavily showcased in these stories. I'm not simply talking about vampire romances or supernatural dramas. The tone is often nihilistic or vengeful and it's not unusual to see apocalyptic themes. Ultimately, the main characters are rebelling against someone. For example, supernatural creatures might be rebelling against mankind. It can be the other way around with humans rebelling against an onslaught of monsters. Perhaps, a particular creature is rebelling against his/her own species. Overall, gothicpunk will be easier to understand if you take a look at some potential examples.
The Chronicles of Darkness and World of Darkness tabletop games are solid examples. In fact, the White Wolf Wiki website has a full page about gothicpunk and how it relates to the franchise. The World of Darkness is a role-playing series that features different types of creatures in urban environments. Vampires, werewolves, mages, demons, changelings, and other beings are common choices. Players can also choose to be hunters who battle these creatures. Several years ago, the franchise was relaunched as the Chronicles of Darkness. There are plenty of goth and punk elements in this series. It's broody, violent, and full of despair. Various factions or groups are pitted against each other. The guidebooks also have artwork that has a distinctly punk appearance. These tabletop games may have been the launching point for the gothicpunk genre.
I'm definitely including The Crow on this list. It's a series of films and comic books that feature a man who was murdered and returns as a supernatural harbinger of doom. There have been several versions of The Crow with different protagonists, but the main story is always the same. In the end, the guilty must atone for their sins, usually in the form of violent death scenes. The graphic design is dark and takes several elements from the goth subculture. It also features extreme violence, which is commonplace in gothicpunk fiction. In a way, the genre rebels against socially acceptable content, so bloody violence and strong sexuality are featured in many gothicpunk works.
The Underworld film series probably deserves to be on this list. It fits the cliche of one species fighting another, such as vampires and werewolves. Mankind doesn't know it, but vampires believe they should rule the world. The protagonist is a vampire named Selene who eventually becomes ostracized from her own species. Like the previous examples, the visual elements have a distinct punk and goth aesthetic. I don't find the Underworld series very good, but it fits in the genre.
I'm much more fond of the Blade comic books and movies. Blade is a hybrid with human and vampire DNA. He makes a living hunting down vampires, so they don't become a serious scourge against mankind. Our antihero is a troubled character who struggles to fight off his predatory side every day. Ultimately, he believes mankind is worth saving from a bloodthirsty race of creatures. Have you seen any of the Blade posters? Wesley Snipe's black costume with the leather coat and sharp weapons fit within the gothicpunk image perfectly.
The Anita Blake books seem to fit in the genre as well. Her work tends to have racier and more sensual elements. Anita Blake is also a vampire hunter, but she finds a lot of gray area in the supernatural world. Some humans are corrupt and evil whereas some monsters like vampires and werewolves have a legitimate moral compass. You'll find all kinds of factions in this book series with various antagonists. Sure, it's a vampire romance, but the series is more explicit and extreme than mainstream examples.
I would also include the Spawn comic books in the gothicpunk genre. The original Spawn character was a man named Albert Francis Simmons. He worked as a government assassin and was eventually murdered by his employer. Simmons was launched into Hell due to a lifetime of violence. He was resurrected as a supernatural being called Spawn and the character rebels against multiple factions. First, he seeks revenge against his murderer and anyone else who was involved in his death. Spawn also hunts down criminals to protect civilians. This antihero also rebels against the forces of Hell to prevent the Apocalypse. The series is a dark, urban fantasy with tons of graphic violence. It was also a series of films, but the comics are much better. You can also view the Spawn television series on HBO.
There's also a film called Daybreakers. It's an alternate version of the modern era where vampires took over the world and are harvesting humans for their blood. Unfortunately, the human race is dying out and the vampires don't have an alternate source for food. The movie includes a small rebellion of both humans and vampires who are trying to end the current world order. It's not a fabulous film, but the gothicpunk element is clear and the premise is interesting.
The Constantine comic books and short lived tv series is also a good example. It's a dark comedy with a supernatural detective named John Constantine who hunts demons. The comic books are violent, but also quite humorous in some ways. It's a dark, urban fantasy with quite a few punk elements. I would say it doesn't have a big emphasis on goth, but the snarky humor, supernatural elements, and gray moral area fits the punk image pretty well. There was also a film adaptation and it was okay, but the comics and television show is better.
At this point, the Supernatural tv show probably fits in this category. It began as a supernatural drama with a different monster every week, but it shifted to a darker and more nihilistic plot with demons and angels. The Winchester brothers are hunters who face all kinds of supernatural horrors. Their journey gets darker, more depressing, and weirder as the show progresses. Should you root for the angels or demons? That's probably not a good idea because both sides are evil and bent on destroying mankind. Nobody can win. I would say the tone and the feud between angels and demons fit within the gothicpunk genre. It's just one corrupt entity fighting another one. Supernatural airs on the CW, but you can also watch the series on Netflix.
The Devil May Cry video games are another great example. Dante is a half human and demon hybrid who destroys Hell spawn both for money and recreational purposes. The series has a long and complex plot about his entire family along with various demons who are trying to turn the earth into a literal Hell scape. It's a twisted and entertaining franchise with bloody violence, creative monsters, and dark antiheroes. Like my other examples, these games combine urban environments with dark fantasy elements. There's a very strong punk vibe in these games, especially in Dante's character development and the overall graphics.
HBO's True Blood works in the gothicpunk aesthetic as well. The show features a young lady named Sookie Stackhouse and she seems to be a magnet for supernatural creatures, including vampires, werewolves, shapeshifters, witches, and more. It's crude, lewd, bloody, and over the top. The setting is a small town in Louisiana that's hiding many secrets. True Blood doesn't have an urban setting, but it works nonetheless. In general, the characters, violence, and sexual content bring out the punk elements. There's also a new antagonist in every season. It's a route storyline. Everyone bands together to bring down the latest form of ultimate evil. True Blood isn't a masterpiece, but it's a lot of fun. This show was based on a book series, titled The Southern Vampire Mysteries, but I know very little about the source material.
I'll give a few examples that are vaguely gothicpunk. Maybe we can call them gothicpunk lite. Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel share a few similarities with the genre. There's a punkish appearance to the set design and fashion. The characters tend to be rebellious. You'll also find a plethora of vampires, demons, and other nightmarish creatures in an urban environment. But these shows are also commercially friendly and primarily geared to YA audiences. They're less violent, edgy, and provocative than other items on this list. Regardless, they fit within the genre to a certain extent.
Another iffy example is the Ghostrider comic books. The visual elements, violent nature, and urban locations probably work for the genre. However, I'm not sure if there's a message for rebellion in this series, especially against authority figures. Granted, I'm not an expert on the Ghostrider comics. It might have more punk elements than I realize. The film adaptation doesn't seem to fit the gothicpunk image though. Leather jackets and monsters aren't enough.
That's the end of my discussion about gothicpunk. Do you think gothicpunk works as a legitimate genre? Let me know in the comment section. I actually believe it could work, but hardly anyone knows about this genre yet. I'm going to leave a couple of links if you want to learn more. Enjoy the remainder of the Memorial Day weekend and I'll see you guys next week.
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