Sunday, May 16, 2010

MBTI in writing

I recently became very interested in Meyer Briggs Type Indicator (also known as MBTI). It is based on a theory of pioneer psychologist Carl Gustav Jung that people have preferences on how they perceive the world and make decisions. The mother daughter team of Katharine Cook Briggs and Isabel Briggs Meyers began developing the personality inventory during World War II to determine what jobs would be the best fit for women going into the workforce for the first time.

According to the MBTI, there are four opposite pairs of preferences resulting in 16 different personality types. You can find a complete description of each type at the Myers & Briggs Foundation. I have taken this test multiple times and always come up with the same result. For me, the results are fairly accurate. There are no right or wrong types. Just because you are one type, it does not mean that you cannot or should not flex into another type. I admit, initially when I was introduced to MBTI training in my job, I had difficulty in determining an appropriate application. Upon revisiting it and having my team go through the training as well, I have a much clearer understanding of the benefit of the program and hopefully improve my communication skills and get improved results.

These personality types remain the same throughout your life and so theoretically you can predict how a person will probably react to certain situations. Which brings me to the point of this post. As a writer, if you determine the personality types of your characters, you can always make sure your characters act in accordance with their core values.

Why does that matter? Because when the characters do not act in accordance with their values, it can be very distracting and confusing to the reader. Recently, I read Batman: Cacophony written by Kevin Smith and illustrated by Walter Flanagan and Phil Hester. Kevin Smith is the super talented director (and actor as Silent Bob) of great movies such as Chasing Amy, Clerks, and Mallrats. He is also wrote some great comics books such as Daredevil and Green Arrow. In this book, his take on the Joker was vastly different than any version I had seen before and I found it to detract from the story (for me). There was one scene where the Joker offers his bum to the villain Onomatopoiea as a thank you for breaking him out of Arkham Asylum which is not in character for this sociopathic character. Did I mention this book is not for younger readers? I guess that is one of the challenges in writing well established characters and trying to put your interpretation of that character. Sometimes it works (like Heath Ledgers role in Dark Knight or Jack Nicholson in Burton's Batman) and sometimes it doesn't.

On of my favorite characters in comics is Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes. His type is one that is heavily debated. Most people consider him an INFP because of his only friend, the imaginary tiger Hobbes and his fertile imagination. However some consider him to be an ENTP because he is rude, outgoing, obnoxious and argumentative. A great resource to look up MBTI types for both real and fictional characters can be found here. As always, these are all debatable.

As for the characters in my book, Karate Dottie and Treacherous Treehouse. Karate Dottie is an ENTJ and her best friend Gordo is an ISFJ. Although Dottie does not have many friends, she is determined on her quest to become a samurai warrior and does not have any problem forcing her strong will on anyone who gets in her way. She is a force of nature. Another comic character who is an ENTJ is Lucy from Peanuts. Gordo, Karate Dottie's portly big hearted best friend, is the voice of reason. He strives to keep harmony which can be difficult since Dottie lives on conflict.

Comments are welcome and feel free to share your MBTI type as well if you know it.

Sunday, May 2, 2010


Had a great opportunity to go to Terrenea Resort in Palo Verdes, California and it was absolutely amazing. Would highly recommend this beautiful resort. It is located on the former site of Marineland where the TV show Sea Hunt was filmed (not to mention many other movies and tv shows including all three Pirates of the Caribbean movies)

What does this trip have to do with my art blog? Actually a little bit since I got to see a couple of friends who I don't get to see that often. The first was John Culbertson who co wrote the Spirit House webcomic with me and who shares my birthday on August Six.

I also got to see a friend of mine who I hadn't seen in over eleven years, Wade von Grawbadger. Many years ago when he lived on the East Coast, I worked as an inking apprentice for Wade. We both love baseball so we headed to Dodger Stadium for the Season Opener. It was sold out but we managed to get tickets. They do Season Openers right in LA. Leann Rhimes sang the Star Spangled Banner, Will I Am threw out the first pitch and Larry King declared the Season opened. Toss in a giant flag, fireworks and fighter jets for good measure. It was a great game and a lot of fun.

Wade has worked on a ton of comic books over his long career and he is considered one of the best inkers in the business. You can catch his work next on the highly anticipated New Avengers relaunch from Marvel Comics. The series is written by Brian Bendis with art supplied by fan fave Stuart Immonen and Wade. You can also buy original art from Wade through his exclusive dealer at Fanfare. Check out his work and pick up New Avengers in June.